Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin "Trick or Treat" Cupcakes (GF)

It feels so nice to be posting again. I've had a really busy couple of weeks, including a work conference (for my 9-5 job, which is not nearly as interesting as pastry) in Palm Springs.

In addition to being busy, I've been feeling a bit like a scientist in the kitchen now that I've switched over to exclusively gluten free baking. It's so exciting, but so different! And so frustrating! I made about 4 attempts yesterday at the perfect GF yellow cupcake and have yet to have succeeded. Luckily, these pumpkin cupcakes turned out beautifully.

These cupcakes are pumpkin with brown butter frosting. They are inspired by a "trick-or-treat" pumpkin basket and when you look at them, you can't help but get nostalgic. I love Halloween and today I spent a full day of child-like fun with Mr. Pixie Crust painting pumpkins to put outside of our apartment. He is a true artist! I'm so impressed by his raven pumpkin!

Mr. Pixie Crust and I had a conversation today about Halloween and what we used to dress up as. Neither of us have ever had the inkling to dress up as anything too spooky. In fact, I pretty much only wanted to be "pretty" characters growing up- a princess, a fairy (I was a fairy probably about 7 times), a mermaid, Cleopatra, a ballerina, etc. I guess some things never change!

For the Pumpkin Cupcakes:
*For non-gluten free readers, you can try this recipe I used for my Harry Potter cupcakes.

1 cup superfine sweet rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup superfine brown rice flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks butter, unsalted at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Sift together the flours, corn/potato starches, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Set aside. Cream together brown sugar, white sugar, and butter. Add in vanilla extract. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients in two parts, alternating with water and pumpkin puree. Mix for 2-3 minutes.

Fill liners about 2/3 full and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

For the Browned Butter Frosting
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 sticks browned butter (see below)
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar (or more, depending on how sweet you like your frosting)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp Wilton Orange food coloring gel

Slice two sticks of unsalted butter and place in 1 qt sauce pan. Melt over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and continue to heat until bubbly and light brown (about 4-5 minutes). Be very careful in this step- the butter browns quickly and can burn if you don't watch it carefully.

Set melted browned butter aside to cool completely (I put mine in the freezer for a couple of minutes to speed the process).

Once completely cool, combine browned butter and one stick of regular butter with powdered sugar in a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until fully smooth and creamy. Add food coloring and mix until fully combined.

To Decorate:
-pastry bag
-small round tip (I used a Wilton 3 tip)
-Mini-sized candy of your choice (I used Nerds, Tootsie rolls, and Mini Reese's Cups)
-Small amount of orange or black fondant
-Orange sanding sugar

To decorate the cupcakes like pumpkins, I used this tutorial from the Hello, Cupcake! book.

To make the pumpkins, place a generous amount of frosting on each cupcake and smooth into a rounded top. Pour orange sanding sugar onto wax paper or a paper plate and gently roll each cupcake into it. You can sprinkle sugar onto any bare spots. Next, use a toothpick to mark indents on pumpkin and use a pastry bag fitted with small round tip to pipe lines onto indents.

Once you've made the pumpkins (minus the stems, unless you make them all into plain pumpkins, which is still adorable-see photo below for proof), cut out the pumpkin face from a piece of rolled out black or orange fondant. Use a bit of frosting to glue each piece on.

Next, place the candy on the top of each cupcake. Put the largest item as far back as you can and then add the smaller items in front. Use a whole piece of licorice for the basket handle by arching over cupcake and pushing each end into it.

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