Friday, September 28, 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and the Unyoung

Old people are a gift.  Seriously they are.  I know I have said this before, but I like to remind myself every once in a while because I forget.  They have so much wisdom and insight to share with us, if only we took the time to listen.

I don't know why, but for some reason I have been thinking about my Papa a lot these last few weeks.  Maybe it is because I have been craving pancakes for dinner all the time, or maybe it is because people keep randomly bringing up how good Community brand coffee is, or maybe it is because I have never gone this long without seeing my grandpa.  Irregardless of the reason, I miss him much.

An awesome photo my sister took of my Papa teaching my brother Gunnar and my brother in law how to correctly make a pancake about 3 years ago.  
"You have to wait for the bubbles to form on top before flipping the pancake over - be patient" - Papa

This month seems to be filled with encounters with elderly people, and also the passing of 2 elderly people who played a special role in my life.

First, I want to tell you about the sweet little 85 yr old woman I came across at Target the other day.

I was wandering the aisles aimlessly looking for a serving tray when this tiny little old lady asked me if I knew where the pie pans were.  I told her they were just 2 aisles down, and did she want me to show her where they were.  She said no, and that she could manage and walked away.  A few minutes later when I admitted defeat against the finding of the serving trays I saw her still circling the aisles.  So I went and pointed her in the right direction again.  

We got to talking about what kind of pies she was making...always an awesome topic with the ones of the gray hair.  She was making pies for her 24 year old grandson's birthday.  She said at every family gathering they always request her apple and also chocolate cream pies.  I asked her what she used for the apple filling thinking she was going to say the canned my delight she said she peeled every apple herself, and has been doing it that way for 85 years!  I can't even imagine how many pies she has made!  What a labor of love!  Then she said her grandson comes over every Sunday and makes pancakes with her.  My heart was happy as I told her that is what I used to do with my grandpa, and now I always think of him when I make pancakes.  She was so happy to hear this and said that when she dies she hopes her grandson will remember her with such fondness when he makes pancakes.  I assured her he would. : )

Now...obviously the perfect ending to this story would be her incredibly handsome and single grandson walked up and swept me off my feet.  We would get married and most definitely serve pancakes and pie at the wedding. : )  Instead she picked out her pie pan, I wished her luck with her baking adventures and she wished me luck with the life ahead of me.  It twas a happy encounter!

Now I really want to tell you about the 2 elderly people I know who recently passed away - but I feel as if they each deserve their own post - so I will save that for another day.

Until then you know what time of the year it is right?  Pumpkin time!  Oh yes, suddenly everything has that slight orange tint to it, that nice spicy bite, that fabulous fragrant smell of Fall goodness.  Show me a person who doesn't love pumpkin and I will do a back flip...wait no, that would be a bad about a somersault instead? : )

I made these cupcakes for an office party, and was delighted with the results.  This cupcake was moist, spicy, and a nice not too sweet maple frosting topped it off.  Sometimes when you eat a pumpkin cupcake the frosting is just so sweet that it hurts your teeth.  This frosting has a subtle sweetness to it, that really allows the cream cheese flavor to shine through.

Pumpkin Cupcakes With Maple Cream Cheese 


Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 17 to 18 cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350°  Line a cupcake pan with 18 liners.

Beat the following in a large bowl until smooth and creamy about 5 minutes:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS molasses
Scrape down bowl - mix again.  Then add the following:

2 large eggs

Mix until smooth.  At this point the batter might be a little broken looking - no worries, carry on.  Slowly add the following until combined.  Scrape down bowl and mix again:

1/2 cup buttermilk mixed 

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

In a separate medium bowl whisk together the following until combined:

2 cups cake flour (or 2 cups all purpose flour minus 2 TBS - and replace it with 2 TBS of cornstarch)

2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until combined.
Pour into muffin tins.  Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. 

Make the frosting

In a stand mixer beat all the following ingredients on medium until fluffy. 

Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Fill a piping bag with icing and pipe a nice swirl on each cupcake.  Leave as it, or dip in orange sugar or sprinkle with a little bit of cinnamon or nutmeg. 

Make these cupcakes, share them with a person over the age of 65, listen to this song, and remember - we are all young at heart!

Eat your heart out!


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