This is one that's been rambling around in my brain for a good few weeks; and I mean "driving in the car, creating ingredients in my head" kind of rambling.
Pumpkin meet cupcake form. Ever since I spied even one touch of red in the treetops this fall, this autumn flavor has been coming together in my brain. You see, fall in New England comes and goes in the blink of an eye. For the few weeks it's actually with us, I actually feel a strange sense of calm as the air gets crisper and the trees erupt in this mad dash of color before shedding their clothes for winter.
Pumpkin, maple, apple cider all show up and there's a few weeks where I barely eat anything else. I had fresh, roasted pumpkin leftover from Canadian Thanksgiving and I knew this recipe is for which it was destined.
You usually see a pumpkin cupcake with some kind of cream cheese frosting to accompany it. I love me some cream cheese frosting, but I wanted something smoother to go with this. I already had the maple taste in mind for it, but after tasting the brandied whipped cream that went along with the pumpkin pie this past week, well, I knew brandy had to be part of this excursion as well.
I hope you enjoy, my co-workers certainly did. As a side note - if you want more of a "spice" flavor to the cupcake, this recipe can certainly handle a bit more of the cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger if that's what you're looking for. It can also be easily doubled since this recipe only makes a dozen. The base recipes that I adapted for this creations are: Classic Yellow Cupcakes from Gas.tron.o.my and the Vanilla Buttercream from Beantown Baker.
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple-Brandy Buttercream
Makes: 12 cupcakes
1.5 cups cake flour (6 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (I always use table salt in baking)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 + 1/8 cups buttermilk
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1.5 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups Confectioners' sugar (5 ounces)
a little less than 1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 teaspoons maple syrup (I used Vermont Fancy, really light, if you use Grade A, you might want to cut back by 1/2 a teaspoon and add to taste)
1.5 tablespoons brandy
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat to 325 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl and set aside.
Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in white sugar until combined, then slowly whisk in brown sugar until combined. Whisk in the buttermilk.
Sift one-third of flour mixture over the batter and whisk it in until a few streaks of flour remain. Repeat twice with remaining flour mixture. Add pumpkin, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon and whisk until most lumps are gone. Do not over mix.
Fill the cupcake liners about two-thirds of the way full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. You'll be baking them about 18 minutes, remember to rotate the pan halfway through baking so it all bakes evenly.
Allow to cool on a wire rack, in cupcake pan for 5 minutes. Pop cupcakes out of pan and allow to cool on wire rack completely before frosting.
For the frosting - in a standing mixer with whisk or paddle attachment (original recipe calls for whisk, but I've never had an issue just using the paddle) beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.
Add confectioners' sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is combined, about 15 seconds.
Scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Add maple syrup and brandy, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.
Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!