Tuesday, October 23, 2007

the great pumpkin hunt

The blog entry that took two weeks to write!

This is a story about a sugar pumpkin. Actually, it goes further back than that. One sunny autumn day, I took my bike and cycled to the other side of the city to buy a can of pumpkin puree to no avail. On another sunny windy day, I took my bike and cycled to the other other side of the city to try to buy a can of pumpkin puree, also to no avail. Dear reader, I now currently live in Stockholm, Sweden, and canned pumpkin is nearly impossible to find. As grumpy as an American is able to be severely inconvenienced by the lack of availability of canned goods, I went to the dearest fanciest grocery store at the main department store. Did they have canned pumpkin? No. But they did have the above sugar pumpkin which I snatched up. I did question the sign in the store that told me to microwave the pumpkin for five minutes. Microwave? Pumpkin? I feel very similarly about microwaving potatoes. Sure, you could, but should you?

I love autumn. I didn't grow up with autumn, but after four years living in New England, I learned to appreciate mulled cider and pumpkin everything. While I was grumpy at making my own pumpkin puree, I couldn't help but marvel at the rich orange color.

While shopping for allspice I picked up yet another pumpkin, but one from New Zealand. That sucker I intend for a savory pumpkin soup, but that bad boy is for another day.

After carrying around six pounds of pumpkin that day, I had to take a respite before figuring out how to make pumpkin puree. Which involves scooping, baking, more scooping, and then draining the pumpkin puree.

Ah, here we are finally at the batter phase. I read over two dozen pumpkin bread, muffin, cupcake, poundcake recipe to arrive at this one.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
makes about 20 cupcakes
preheat oven to 350 F

If you're noticing I'm using maple syrup more often it is because I bought two huge jugs of it to last me this year abroad in Europe. I think maple syrup is ambrosia -- nectar of the gods. These muffins make the best use of all the delicious spices and formerly exotic spices: cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger.

1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar
3/4 c salted butter
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1 t vanilla extract

2 3/4 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t ground cloves
1 pinch all spice
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger

2 c pumpkin puree or 1 15 oz canned pumpkin

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, add eggs and egg yolk, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, spices. Mix the combined dry ingredients into the wet until well combined. Add pumpkin puree.

Bake in muffin tins. If you have not a full set, fill the empty ones with cold water. Bake for about 20 minutes. When pierced the implement should come out nearly clean. Ovens vary so much that one has to be pretty aware. Overbaking will dry out your cupcakes, and that is a less than desirable result!

Cool before frosting.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese
1/4 c butter at room temperature cut into small pieces
1 T maple syrup
1/4 c powdered sugar

Whip the cream cheese until fluffy, then add the butter at medium whipping speed. Fold in syrup and powdered sugar. Keep refrigerated.

I tried as much as possible to cut down on sugar, but as you can see, there is still quite a bit of sugar. The cupcakes have a wonderful tiny crumb and come out moist. However, I would definitely slot these cupcakes for sharing.

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