Showing posts with label autumn cupcake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label autumn cupcake. Show all posts

Monday, September 14, 2015

Ghosts and Goblins #bookclubweek

It's almost that time of year again. The leaves are turning and your book club might be thinking about ghosts and things that go bump in the night! So today I'm offering THE GHOST AND MRS. MEWER, which takes place at Halloween. That's right! I'm giving away a copy to one person who leaves a comment below.

A team of ghost hunters arrive in Wagtail to investigate the local ghost stories for a TV show. They're particularly interested in a legend that centers around a deserted hotel. But to keep things honest, a ghost debunker is part of the show to expose any fast tricks they might pull.

I have to tell you that researching this story was fascinating. I come from a no nonsense family that absolutely did not believe in ghosts. That is, not until my father died. Every single one of us saw or heard him after his death. So it was particularly interesting to me to delve into fact versus fiction. By including a ghost debunker in the story, I was able to explore both sides of the question do ghosts exist?

I'm including some book club questions here to get the conversation started. I think questions one and two could fill the entire evening and result in some fascinating stories.

Book Club Questions for

1. Do you believe in ghosts?
2. Have you ever seen, heard, or felt a ghost?
3. Have you ever taken part in a fake haunted house as a guest or a ghost?
4. Did Eva Chevalier expose some ghost hunting tricks you didn't know about?
5. How did you feel about Eva and her personal problems?
6. Do you have a cat? Would your cat have acted like Mrs. Mewer?
7. What was the spookiest moment in the book for you?
8. How did you feel about Mallory? Did your opinion change as you learned about her past?
9. Did you know who the killer was? Who did you suspect?
10. It has to be asked. What's your favorite Halloween treat?

It goes without saying that you're going to serve something at your book club meeting, so today I'm offering pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. These were so yummy that they started disappearing before I even frosted them. So if you're in a pinch, you can just dust some powdered sugar over them and they'll still be delish. But if my friend Betsy is coming, you'd better make the frosting. She claims "the cake is just there to hold the frosting." I bet some of you think so, too.

Krista's Pumpkin Cupcakes
 with Cream Cheese Frosting
(makes 12 cupcakes)

Pumpkin Cupcakes

3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspooon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cloves

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup regular sugar

1 large egg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 and place cupcake papers in the pan.

Mix together the first seven ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork. Set aside.

Cream the butter with the sugars. Add the egg and beat well. Add the vanilla and pumpkin and beat. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. The batter will be thick.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling each well about 3/4 full. (I spoon some into each well, then go back and top them all off.)

Bake 16 minutes. (The number one complaint about cupcakes is that they're dry. Don't over-bake!)

Cool on a rack. Eat plain (at brunch, maybe?), dust with powdered sugar, or top with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

Beat the butter with the cream cheese. Add the vanilla and beat. Add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating in between.

Thick batter.

After baking.

Don't forget to leave a comment if you would like to win a copy of 
Please include your email address so I can notify you. 
Good luck!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rrroaring Cupcakes

We all eat with our eyes first. Right? Especially kids. I would love to take credit for the decorations here, but these are the genius of Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. You may have seen their adorable book HELLO, CUPCAKE! If you're into decorating cupcakes, or even if you're not, the book is chock full of clever ideas. I was able to find all these decorating items at my local Walmart.

Twizzlers Pull and Peel red licorice
orange cereal Os (Fruit Loops or Apple Jacks)
blue M and M minis
pink or red jelly beans
(or small pink heart-shaped candies)
10 chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon butter

These would be so cute for a birthday party or slumber party, or just as an after school surprise. If you lose your mind and decide to make them for the whole class, it's do-able, but I would probably enlist some help. Imagine how fast these would go at a bake sale!

You can use your favorite cupcake recipe for this, or cheat and use (shh, we won't tell) plain (undecorated) store-bought cupcakes.

The recipe below is one of my new favorites. It just smacks of fall with all the right flavors -- cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. I've made it three times now, because one of my dogs saw fit to eat the better part of a batch (paper and all) before they were iced. I guess I'm not the only one who likes them.

I made these cupcakes in advance, photographed them for the blog, and then froze them for a cupcake tasting weekend. They survived beautifully in the freezer for six days -- except for the ears. The cereal turned soggy when it thawed. So if you freeze them, apply the ears after they thaw. To thaw the cupcakes, simply bring them to room temperature by letting them rest on a counter for about 45 minutes.

The instructions for the cute lion faces follow below the recipes.

Autumn Spice Cupcakes
(makes 12 regular cupcakes or 24 mini-cupcakes)

3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cloves

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup regular sugar

1 large egg (room temperature)
1/2 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 and place cupcake papers in pan.

Use a fork to mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a bowl. Set aside.

Cream the butter with the sugars. Add the egg and beat. Add the applesauce and beat. Beat in the flour mixture until smooth.

Fill cupcake papers a little over 1/2 full. Bake 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Caramel Frosting

1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter (room temperature)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar

Place first four ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. (I used a Pyrex 2-cup measure.) Microwave in short bursts from 20-50 seconds, stirring each time until it bubbles up and is hot. Set aside to cool. Must be completely cool to make the frosting. (After it cooled substantially, I placed it in the fridge for 1/2 hour while the butter came to room temperature.)

Beat the butter well, scraping the sides and beating again. Add the cream and the cool caramel mixture and beat. Add the vanilla and beat. Slowly add the powdered sugar until it reaches the desired consistency.

Lion Faces

Use a firm frosting. One that doesn't hold a shape well won't be strong enough to hold the licorice in place. The pieces will slide off.

In the book, they use food coloring to make the frosting orange. I think the color of the caramel frosting worked fine.

Using a knife or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes evenly, not heaping it or making it too thick.

Work on a tray large enough to give you room between the cupcakes so you won't disturb the ones nearby as you work. I used a large pizza baking pan, which worked nicely because I could rotate it to the next cupcake.

Cut the licorice in 3/4 inch pieces. Place them around the edge of the cupcake, taking care to make a little heart shape at the top of the face. They should be in a straight line right under the chin.

Place two orange fruit loops in the frosting at an angle for ears.

Add blue M and M minis for eyes. If you're into perfection and you have some white icing on hand, place a little drop of it on each eye. (I omitted that step.)

The nose was problematic for me. The book recommends a small pink candy heart but I couldn't find one and had to improvise. I cut pink and red jelly beans in half for noses.

Again, the book recommends using chocolate frosting for the mouth. I would probably make chocolate frosting for mouths if I were making 30 cupcakes. Instead, I melted 10 chocolate chips with about 1/4 teaspoon butter in the microwave and used the sharp end of a wooden skewer to "paint" the chocolate mouth. A toothpick would probably work, too.

Party time!