Thursday, November 03, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes w/ Graham Cracker Crust & Cream Cheese Variations

This past October I wanted to find a really scrumptious recipe to really capture the "essence of Fall", into one recipe. I came across a few different recipes for a foreign flavor of Pumpkin Spice. I've never tried it so thought with the arrival of Fall, and Halloween nearby - it would be perfect for both. And not to toot my own horn, but I think this one calls for some "Toots" :) After a few corrections & changes, I had the final recipe made & a really beautiful & delicious cupcake as a result. If you like spice cake or spice "muffins" - this is perfect for you. I'm not a big fan of Pumpkin desserts, but this was really wonderful because the mingling of the spices in the pumpkin puree with the spices in the cake, came together quite nicely :)

I put this cupcake as my "Feature Flavor of the Month" on my website for my bakery. It was a pretty successful cupcake & I got a lot of great feedback from it. I also added a Graham Cracker Crust to the bottom & it really kicked up the flavors & textures. The blend of crunch, with the warmth & gooey-ness of the cake & then the cool frosting, was really nice. Then you add the essence of pumpkin, blend of warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger, and the creamy Cream Cheese frosting - and you have a pretty powerful cupcake. Definitely a crowd pleaser, and the best part is that it really is not hard at all to make! 

I'm really proud of this recipe, and really excited to share it with you. I hope you try it out, I promise you will not be disappointed. I also included a picture with some different "topping" options (based on your taste buds). 
Here it is: Hope you enjoy! Let me know how you like it :) 
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Frosting
& Graham Cracker Crust

I was surprised to find that this recipe will make between 3-4 dozen cupcakes, so if you do not want that many, cut the recipe in half and it'll give you exactly 2 dozen.
What you will need:
4 Cups of Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 T. + 1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 T. Ginger
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Cloves (ground)
1 Cup Unsalted Butter
2 1/2 Cups Light Brown Sugar
4 Eggs
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 1/2 Cups Canned Pumpkin (NOT the Pumpkin Pie Filling)

 & Here we go!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line your cupcake pans.
Sift the flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder & salt together. (Basically all of the dry ingredients, except for the brown sugar - that's for the next step).

In a separate bowl, Cream the butter & brown sugar until light & fluffy.
Add each egg to the butter & sugar mixture (1 egg at a time).
Then - ALTERNATING 3-4 times, add the flour mixture into the mix, and then the buttermilk into the mix, taking turns repeating about 3-4 times.
 NOW STOP.Before pouring batter into the cupcake liners, you want to make the Graham Cracker Crust to put into the liners BEFORE pouring the cupcake batter into them. 

Graham Cracker Crust: 
What you will need:
2 cups crushed graham crackers crumbs (about 12 crackers)
1/2 cup melted butter
 To make the graham cracker crumbs, mix the crushed up crackers with the melted butter and scoop into the paper liners.

 NOW: Time to fill the cupcakes!

Once you fill the liners with the crust & the batter (about halfway to top) - Bake them for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. You'll know when it's close because the house will smell pretty spectacular; My nose always seems to be the best timer for desserts.

Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting. If you'd like to cut the calories, or sugar intake - with these cupcakes (or any spice cupcakes in general), you really can eat them without frosting like a muffin or spice cake.  All the spices add a lot of flavor to the cake, that frosting isn't required and still tastes great
When cupcakes are ready to frost, grab your Cream Cheese Frosting (Store bought or Homemade) & frost away!
I kept my frosting white but you can always color them to decorate for the holiday or event your having. I decorated my cupcakes with assorted toppings (just to show some different ways you can do it)

Variations: The best toppings to "Sprinkle With Love"
---- I decorated some with Cinnamon & Nutmeg Spices (just a little so it doesn't overpower the frosting)
---- Some were decorated with Sprinkles
(I found some cute orange pumpkin sprinkles & they were fabulous seeing as how these were Pumpkin cupcakes!) ... It's the little things that you find the most joy in right? (LOL!)
 ---- I also decorated some of the cupcakes with freshly chopped Walnuts. That seemed to be the biggest hit because it added an extra crunch and additional flavor to the cupcake

 & you're all done! 
I hope you enjoyed the tutorial & hope you try the recipe! Stay tuned to see what November's "Feature Flavor of the Month" will be!
There's currently a Survey on the RoyaL Sweets & Treats facebook page if you'd like to participate in choosing the final flavor for November! & if you'd like to follow my desserts & monthly specials!
Thanks for reading & good luck with your next adventure in the kitchen!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Auntie & Ethan Day

For those of you who don't know, I have a confession. I have a nephew named Ethan Patrick, and I must confess - he is my very best friend. Not only best friend, he is the very best thing that ever happened to me. LOL. Yes I talk about him like he is my child, because there's not a whole lot of difference in the way I feel towards him if he were my own. I grew up as sisters with my cousin Karin, so naturally, what's hers is mine ;)

I could talk about Ethan for days, so I'll stop myself now because you'll get the picture as blogs go on and you see this love connection I have with him. He's quite amazing, as you'll see. 

Last year was Ethan's first real Halloween. He was born in May, so the year previous he was just an infant and really didn't know much of what was going on to enjoy it. So last year, was the first year in our "Auntie & Ethan Halloween Day". Last year we went to Fairytale Town & Funderland & then to a local Pumpkin Patch. He was just a year old but had so much fun. He looked so adorable in the Elephant costume I got him and we had the best day. Here's some pictures from our first year's trip

He was so little!!! & He could only ride about 2 of the rides there I felt so bad.
Didn't quite understand the fascination of the "Pumpkin" yet. But he tried.
Little elephant<3
THIS was the cutest part of the whole costume. His little tail ! Aw, he's so curious here I love it.
That year he was still so tiny he needed the stroller or to be carried because he'd get tired. And yes, he wasn't a fan of "cheesing for the camera" yet either. But he still had the cutest pictures :)

This year, he's two. And boy oh boy, two he is. He's so much fun & I just love how expressive & talkative he is at this age. I didn't really notice how much a year makes, until this year's trip to the pumpkin patch. For this year, we went to Bishop's Pumpkin Patch in Wheatland. & Then we came home and carved Ethan's FIRST Pumpkin. I bought a Sesame Street Carving Kit @Target a few weeks ago & just knew we'd have a really fun time with it.  I thought we'd do it big. Afterall, it is our one year anniversary of our special day together:)

As soon as I picked him up he started asking "auntie woya, we go punkin patch now?". Over & over that's all I heard until we got there. But it was so cute just because, I still cannot get enough of him calling me "auntie woya" at the start of every sentence. Melts my heart. We picked up Mcdonalds (yes I'm the irritating auntie who spoils him with chocolate milk & kids meals when I know I should be giving him healthy food) & we were on our way.   

SO MUCH BIGGER. Please, don't remind me. I'm still trying to come to grips with it.
As soon as we pulled up I asked Ethan what he wanted to do first: Pick our pumpkins, or do all the activities. He replied with "um.. lets do activities, then pick punkins last". So there it was; Our Itinerary for the day. Bishop's was so great, especially for kids. Between the candy stores to train rides to acres of pumpkin patch to pick (after the big tractor drives you out to the fields of course) and countless things for kids to do. To put it lightly, Ethan had a blast. First things first, he wanted to fill his bucket from Mcdonalds (which he decorated with their stickers on the way - thanks Mcdonalds for his car-ride-entertainment!) Then our day of activities started. From "choo choo twain" rides to "ice-creeam" to "auntie woya take picture of that" - all the way to spending over an hour in the pumpkin patch picking the perfect pumpkin that was up to Ethan's standards (he's pretty picky I'll say) - the day was completly full of fun.

Picking out his candy! Gave him a bucket and he was off. Even picking candy out for daddy & mommy :)

YES - he LOVES posing for the camera now & everything is "take picture... I wanna see!" It's so awesome. And makes photo memories that much more fun to look back on :) This is him and his bouncy ball he picked out at the Candy Shop. He seen this truck and said "that's big truck like my daddy's - take a pictwure"

Corn maze!! We bought our tickets and he lead us through the whole thing. It made for a bit of a longer maze than expected, but he had fun getting lost & us found in the big "forest". He even threw a couple cornstocks (little rebel)

LOL! Had to.

This is my most favorite picture of the entire day. I didn't even say smile or cheese. We got seated in our seats for the train ride around the Pumpkin Patch and this was his reaction to hearing the train start. Um, can you say Priceless.

This was him directing me to the prettier pumpkins because that one was "ugly". You can already see how much more fun he had this year with the Pumpkins than last year. We spent close to 2 hours finding the perfect pumpkin for him, but he was quite happy when he found it :)

There it is! "That's the one" He said. & I (while totally struggling) carried it to the tractor and we took it to our car :)

This is our tractor ride back to main part of the park. He was so proud sitting with his pumpkin. Then, it wasn't so much about the pumpkin patch as it was about when we got to carve it

LOVE that he poses!

He couldn't stop laughing at this picture when he seen it. "I ride big bus, see" <3
After our long day at Bishop's, we loaded up the car with our Pumpkin (and 7 little ones we bought up front because they're hand-picking was far better than ours), our gallon of apple cider (BEST part of Pumpkin Patches I say!) & our treats & goodies - and we were on our way home. Oh yeah, this was about 5 minutes after buckling him up. We didn't even make it out of the parking lot before I looked back and seen this sweet face.
Once we made it through traffic and got back to my house, Mommy was off work and met us there to watch us carve our pumpkins! I got our matching Skeleton aprons (Thank you $1 store for hooking us up with cutest Carving apparel ever!) and we were on our way. Now, this was the first Pumpkin I've cared in close to 10 years, and first solo - so, that being said, I think we did a pretty good job :)

Kids & Adult Skeleton Aprons for $1 - CANNOT top that :)

He was pretty proud of himself when he pulled that out (No one ever needs to know we loosened it for him)
Once he wasn't grossed out anymore by the "guts" he was all for it !
My little helper :) He seriously held his finger on the cutter the whole time and just followed my hand as I carved it. It was pretty stinkin cute, I must say.
Elmo!!! This is Ethan's most FAVORITE character! I tried to convince him to do the Cookie Monster (because I really wanted to carve the little cookies on the side) But - his pumpkin, his rules. It's really dark but can you see how happy he is with it? He was so proud of it once we lit the candles.
 And there it was. The most fun day I've had all year long. And in one day I realized how much a year really makes in little kids. They grow so fast & sometimes we get so busy and things get so normal, we forget how far they've come in such a short time.. That being said,  I'm so excited to see what our day is like next year. But then again, let's not get ahead of ourselves. As is, he's growing up too dang fast!

Halloween trick or TREATS

This Halloween I really got to play around with the normal cupcakes & cakes and decorate them for Halloween. Halloween isn't a really big holiday for our family anymore, however, this is the first year the bakery is really up & running & I was pretty busy this month with some fun Halloween orders. I must admit, it was nice playing dress-up with the treats & seeing all the kids faces when the "Cupcake Lady" would arrive with the treats for the party. It's those moments that I remember why I love doing what I do, and it's those days I remember the fun in Halloween. Anywho, here's some treats I got to make this year for Halloween orders I had :)

Caramel Apples with Halloween Sprinkles

Rice Krispy Treat Pumpkins!
I must admit, since seeing these on Pinterest I've been dying to make these & was so happy I got an order of them. Any excuse to make Rice Krispy Treats - is good enough for me :) & yes, I made plenty extra for myself & house

Halloween Cupcakes! These were lots of fun & so easy thanks to Michaels & they're always-fabulous holiday decorating aisles. It's a wonder I don't invest stock in that company yet for how much money I put into them weekly..

I got asked to make some goody bags for a Harvest Festival Bake Sale. It was fun & I got to play around with packaging & (for some odd reason) that's my most favorite part about the "treat" business. The bags were full of funfetti cookies (YUM!) Also a first making those & definitely had to run to the store afterwards to make some for my house!

Graveyard Cake! This was super fun and so simple!! The cookies were Milanos & I just wrote on them and froze them overnight so the writing wouldn't bleed. Then stuck on some Spooky Ghost PEEPS & wiggly worms and crushed up lots of oreo cookies to give the "dirt impression". It was chocolate cake with Oreo Cookie filling :)   

After this year of making treats & having Halloween orders, I'm really looking forward to next year and all the fun I get to have with the next would of tricking & TREATING! :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Most Important Calendar a Baker Can Possess

Thanks to our friends at Best Friends For Frosting, and (our forever favorite dessert-blogger) Sweetapolita for reposting - I've come across this FANTASTIC Directory List of National Dessert Days!! As a baker myself, and dessert-lover to my core - I find this to be the MOST important list of dates a girl could have. So, naturally, I had to share. Enjoy! I better start the workout routines now, because I'm seeing a lot of "Celebration Desserts" in my near future ;)

January 2 National Cream Puff Day
January 3 National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day
January 5 National Whipped Cream Day
January 6 National Shortbread Day
January 8 National English Toffee Day
January 9 National Apricot Day
January 10 National Bittersweet Chocolate Day
January 12 National Marzipan Day
January 13 National Peach Melba Day
January 15 National Strawberry Ice Cream Day
January 16 National Fig Newton Day
January 20 National Buttercrunch Day
January 21 National Granola Bar Day
January 22 National Blonde Brownie Day
January 23 National Pie Day
January 23 National Rhubarb Pie Day
January 24 National Peanut Butter Day
January 25 National Irish Coffee Day
January 26 National Peanut Brittle Day
January 26 National Pistachio Day
January 30 National Croissant Day
February 1 National Baked Alaska Day
February 3 National Carrot Cake Day
February 8 National Molasses Bar Day
February 10 National Cream Cheese Brownie Day
February 11 National Peppermint Patty Day
February 12 National Plum Pudding Day
February 14 National Cream-Filled Chocolates Day
February 15 National Gumdrop Day
February 16 National Almond Day
February 17 National Indian Pudding Day
February 19 National Chocolate Mint Day
February 20 National Cherry Pie Day
February 21 National Sticky Bun Day
February 23 National Banana Bread Day
February 24 National Tortilla Chip Day
February 25 National Chocolate-Covered Peanuts Day
February 26 National Pistachio Day
February 27 National Chocolate Cake Day
February 27 National Strawberry Day
February 27 National Kahlua Day
February 28 National Chocolate Souffle Day
March 1 National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day
March 1 National Fruit Compote Day
March 2 National Banana Cream Pie Day
March 4 National Poundcake Day
March 6 National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day
March 8 National Peanut Cluster Day
March 10 National Blueberry Popover Day
March 13 National Coconut Torte Day
March 15 National Peanut Lovers Day
March 15 National Pears Helene Day
March 18 National Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day
March 19 National Chocolate Caramel Day
March 24 National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day
March 26 National Nougat Day
March 28 National Black Forest Cake Day
March 29 National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day
April 2 National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day
April 3 National Chocolate Mousse Day
April 5 National Raisin & Spice Bar Day
April 6 National Caramel Popcorn Day
April 7 National Coffee Cake Day
April 9 National Chinese Almond Cookie Day
April 10 National Cinnamon Crescent Day
April 12 National Licorice Day
April 13 National Peach Cobbler Day
April 14 National Pecan Day
April 18 National Animal Crackers Day
April 20 National Pineapple Upside-down Cake Day
April 21 National Chocolate-Covered Cashews Day
April 22 National Jelly Bean Day
April 23 National Cherry Cheesecake Day
April 25 National Zucchini Bread Day
April 28 National Blueberry Pie Day
April 30 National Oatmeal Cookie Day
May 1-7 National Raisin Week
May 1 National Chocolate Parfait Day
May 3 National Raspberry Popover Day
May 3 National Chocolate Custard Day
May 4 National Candied Orange Peel Day
May 6 National Crepe Suzette Day
May 8 National Coconut Cream Pie Day
May 12 National Nutty Fudge Day
May 13 National Apple Pie Day
May 17 National Cherry Cobbler Day
May 19 National Devil’s Food Cake Day
May 22 National Vanilla Pudding Day
May 23 National Taffy Day
May 26 National Blueberry Cheesecake Day
May 31 National Macaroon day
National Candy Month
June 1 National Hazelnut Cake Day
June 2 National Rocky Road Day
June 3 Donut Day (1st Friday in June)
June 3 National Chocolate Macaroon Day
June 5 National Gingerbread Day
June 6 National Applesauce Cake Day
June 7 National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
June 9 National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day
June 11 National German Chocolate Cake Day
June 12 National Peanut Butter Cookie Day
June 13 Kitchen Klutzes of America Day
June 14 National Strawberry Shortcake Day
June 16 National Fudge Day
June 17 National Apple Strudel Day
June 17 National Cherry Tart Day
June 21 National Peaches & Cream Day
June 22 National Chocolate Eclair Day
June 23 National Pecan Sandies Day
June 24 National Pralines Day
June 25 National Strawberry Parfait Day
June 26 National Chocolate Pudding Day
June 29 National Almond Buttercrunch Day
National Ice Cream Month
July 1 National Gingersnap Day
July 3 National Chocolate Wafer Day
July 5 National Apple Turnover Day
July 7 National Strawberry Sundae Day
July 7 National Macaroni Day
July 8 National Milk Chocolate with Almonds Day
July 9 National Sugar Cookie Day
July 10 National Pina Colada Day
July 11 National Blueberry Muffin Day
July 12 National Pecan Pie Day
July 15 National Tapioca Pudding Day
July 17 National Peach Ice Cream Day
July 20 National Ice Cream Day
July 20 National Lollipop Day
July 21 National Creme Brulee Day
July 22 National Penuche Day
July 23 National Vanilla Ice Cream Day
July 25 National Hot Fudge Sundae Day
July 28 National Milk Chocolate Day
July 30 National Cheesecake Day
July 31 National Raspberry Cake Day
August 1 National Raspberry Cream Pie Day
August 2 National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
August 2 National Ice Cream Soda Day
August 3 National Watermelon Day
August 4 National Chocolate Chip Day
August 6 National Root Beer Float Day
August 7 Raspberries ‘n Cream Day
August 8 National Frozen Custard Day
August 9 National Rice Pudding Day
August 10 National S’mores Day
August 11 National Raspberry Bombe Day
August 14 National Creamsicle Day
August 15 National Lemon Meringue Pie Day
August 17 National Vanilla Custard Day
August 18 National Ice Cream Pie Day
August 19 National Soft Ice Cream Day
August 20 National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day
August 21 National Spumoni Day
August 22 National Pecan Torte Day
August 23 National Spongecake Day
August 24 National Peach Pie Day
August 25 National Banana Split Day
August 26 National Cherry Popsicle Day
August 27 National Pots de Creme Day
August 28 National Cherry Turnovers Day
August 30 National Toasted Marshmallow Day
September 8 National Date-Nut Bread Day
September 12 National Chocolate Milkshake Day
September 14 National Cream-Filled Donut Day
September 15 National Creme de Menthe Day
September 16 National Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Day
September 17 National Apple Dumpling Day
September 19 National Butterscotch Pudding Day
September 20 National Punch Day
September 21 National Pecan Cookie Day
September 22 National White Chocolate Day
September 26 National Pancake Day
September 28 National Strawberry Cream Pie Day
September 30 National Mulled Cider Day
National Apple Month
National Caramel Month
National Cookie Month
National Cookie Month
National Dessert Month

October 9 National Dessert Day
October 10 National Angel Food Cake Day
October 13 National Peanut Festival
October 13 National Pumpkin Festival
October 18 National Chocolate Cupcake Day
October 20 National Brandied Fruit Day
October 22 National Nut Day
October 23 National Boston Cream Pie Day
October 26 National Mincemeat Day
October 28 National Chocolate Day
October 29 National Oatmeal Day
October 30 National Candy Corn Day
National Fun with Fondue Month
National Georgia Pecan Month
National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month
National Raisin Bread Month
November 1-7 – National Fig Week
November 4 National Candy Day
November 5 National Doughnut Day
November 7 National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day
November 10 National Vanilla Cupcake Day
November 13 National Indian Pudding Day
November 15 National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day
November 20 National Peanut Butter Fudge Day
November 23 National Cashew Day
November 25 National Parfait Day
November 26 National Cake Day
November 27 National Bavarian Cream Pie Day
November 28 National French Toast Day
November 29 National Chocolates Day
November 30 National Mousse Day
December 1 National Pie Day
December 2 National Fritters Day
December 4 National Cookie Day
December 5 National Sacher Torte Day
December 6 National Gazpacho Day
December 7 National Cotton Candy Day
December 8 National Brownie Day
December 9 National Pastry Day
December 12 National Ambrosia Day
December 13 National Cocoa Day
December 15 National Lemon Cupcake Day
December 16 National Chocolate Covered Anything Day
December 24 National Egg Nog Day
December 25 National Pumpkin Pie Day
December 26 National Candy Cane Day
December 27 National Fruitcake Day
December 30 National Bicarbonate of Soda Day