Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Nutmeg Cream Cheese Frosting

I have more than a slight obsession with nutmeg. Good friends of mine will tell you that I like to drink my eggnog with the nutmeg shaker close by- and regularly give it a good dose. I also think that besides the eggnog application, nutmeg is rather undervalued. It is often added to recipes alongside loud cinnamon and pushy ginger; it's quiet voice lost.
No more- in this treat it is nutmeg's turn in the spotlight. I think it pulls off quite a performance.
The pumpkin cupcake recipe is from Martha Stewart. com. The Cream Cheese frosting is in Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook - the nutmeg is my addition.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (pre-ground is just fine)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.

3) Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

4) When cooled completely, frost with nutmeg cream cheese frosting (see recipe below). Add a dash of nutmeg to the top of each.

Nutmeg Cream Cheese Frosting

1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners sugar, sifted
1/4-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (to your taste- Of course I go for the 1/2 teaspoon)

1) Blend together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and nutmeg.

2) Add the confectioners sugar and mix until smooth.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is from my Grandma Irene. She is a fantastic cook, collector of recipes and the classiest woman I know. As a kid, I saw a picture of Jackie O and thought it was my Grandmother. She is that classy.
I love how a particular recipe can make me feel connected to people. For example, this recipe came to me via my sister but it is originally my grandmother's. My family and I are spread out around the country, but anytime I make these cookies, I feel what it is like when we are together. Today, when I was talking to my mom, I told her I was making these cookies. I could hear that collective nostalgic sigh- for comfort and love and how that is all wrapped up in this spice laced cookie.
These cookies are fun because they are just a little bit different than the standard pumpkin treat. They also keep beautifully. The chocolate chips are my addition. I love the combination of chocolate and pumpkin, but if you don't, feel free to leave the chips out.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
2 cups quick oats
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

1) Preheat the oven to 350.

2) Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy.

3) Mix in pumpkin, egg and vanilla.

4) In a separate bowl, wisk the dry ingredients together. (I usually sift my flour before adding because I am paranoid about lumps, but please don't feel it's a requirement.)

5) Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until blended. (Yes, it is a huge batch of cookie dough. Good luck stirring. At this point, even my stand up mixer is complaining.)

6) Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

7) Drop by tablespoons on to an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. Let the cookie sit for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring them to cool on cookie racks.

I do not technically know how many cookies this recipe is supposed to yield. But I almost always get about 4 dozen.