pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

I can’t get enough of fall baking, and nothing screams fall baking quite like canned pumpkin! I have been dumping it into bars, smoothies, cakes, loaves and everything else I can get my hands on — because I know that before long, I will have to move on to gingerbread, peppermint and Christmas cookies.

I was planning on making pumpkin spice latte cupcakes; however, something didn’t seem right about pumpkin cupcakes without cream cheese frosting. So I ditched the whipped cream frosting and used my absolute favorite cream cheese frosting recipe. I left the espresso powder in the cupcakes — and it added a subtle, warm flavor to the finished product. The pumpkin, cinnamon, and clove create a tickling, spicy aroma that is uniquely autumnal.


I frosted them with a cute little swirl, and garnished each one with a candy corn. I plan on bringing these to my first baking club meeting on Thursday!
What’s your favorite fall flavor?
With love, Erica

pumpkin spice cupcakes
 
2 2/3 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Tsp baking soda
2 Tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp espresso powder
1/2 Tsp nutmeg
1 Tsp cinnamon
1/8 Tsp ground cloves
1 Tsp salt
1 Cup brown sugar
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
1/2 Cup (1 Stick) butter, melted
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
4 Eggs
 
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 24 cupcake tins with paper liners.

Whisk the flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon,
nutmeg, cloves and salt together in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a
stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the pumpkin, both
sugars. melted butter and the oil. Beat on medium-low speed until well incorporated
and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each
addition. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 2
additions, beating just until incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly among the liners, filling each about 3/4-full.
Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back
when lightly pressed, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out
clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for
5-10 minutes before removing them to the rack.

my favorite cream cheese frosting

  • 1/2 cup of shortening
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter @ room temp
  • 1 8oz bar cream cheese @ room temp
  • 1 Tbs. white vanilla extract
  • 2 lbs powder sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

Instructions

Cream together shortening, butter, and cream
cheese until nice and smooth. Add vanilla and vinegar into mixture and combine. Sift
together sugar and salt, and slowly add to shortening, butter &
cheese mixture. Make sure that all sugar is incorporated. Enjoy!

cream scones

I had half a carton of heavy cream in the fridge. Although I was tempted just to pour it over cereal, I decided to bake it into something. I’m glad I did, I’d choose these scones over cereal any day.

These scones are all over the internet — and I can see why. They are moist, tender, and a cinch to make.

For the longest time, I did not like scones. I thought they were quite boring compared to fluffy muffins and buttery pastries. Coffee shop scones often resemble heavy, dry hockey pucks. These scones are different. And although they are simple, there is nothing borning about them.

Because this recipe uses heavy cream instead of butter, there is no need to whip out the food processor, or crumble butter with your fingers. With a quick stir of a fork, the scones are nearly done. They go into the oven looking like sad, little bricks, yet emerge as lofty scones with a sweet, golden crust.

Hot from the oven, these scones melt in your mouth. I left mine plain, simply brushing them with melted butter. They would be wonderful sprinkled with raw sugar for some added crunch, or with dried fruits, nuts, or chocolate mixed into the dough. My family is not a fan of the traditional raisins and currents, but I think that dried blueberries or apricots would be a hit.

Of course, these go wonderfully with your favorite jam or honey — and they reheat beautifully.

What do you like in your scones?

With love,
Erica

Makes 12 scones (recipe halves nicely)

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sugar1
1 1/4 c. heavy cream (perhaps a bit more)
optional: 3/4 c. dried fruit, nuts, or chocolate chips

Glaze
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. sugar
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Use an ungreased baking sheet.
Combine
the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl, stirring with a
fork to mix well. Add the dried fruit. Still using a fork, stir in the
cream and mix until the dough holds together in a rough mass (the dough
will be quite sticky; drizzle in a bit more cream if it seems too dry).
Lightly
flour a board and transfer the dough to it. Knead the dough eight or
nine times. Pat into a circle about 10 inches round. For the glaze,
spread the butter over the top and sides of the circle of dough and
sprinkle the sugar on top. Cut the circle into 12 wedges and place each
piece on the baking sheet, allowing about an inch between pieces.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Adapted from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham

peach cobbler ice cream

I don’t have an ice cream machine, and have always shyed away from any ice cream related recipe. However, when I saw this easy method to make ice cream without a machine on Kevin and Amanda, I decided to give it a go… and it has changed my life forever. This method is so easy (just pop it in the freezer and forget about it) and so rewarding (we’re making our own ice cream people!). My family couldn’t get enough of this stuff, its so smooth and creamy that no one would ever guess that it’s not churned. There’s no doubt that homemade ice cream is the supreme summertime treat, and there’s also no doubt there will be many more ice cream recipes to come now that I have this awesome method up my sleeve!

The peaches at the Farmer’s market are perfect this time of year — sweet, juicy, and not at all mealy. I think we bought around 20 of them! I was planning on making a peach cobbler, but then decided that ice cream would be a happy substitute since these days its (almost) too hot to bake. Instead of plain peach ice cream, I jazzed it up a bit with graham cracker crumbs and a healthy dash of cinnamon to simulate the warm flavors of peach cobbler. It’s basically summer in a cone.

Needless to say, this peach ice cream is a new favorite recipe of mine, and will always be special to me as it is the first ice cream I have ever made. This is the perfect way to celebrate the rich, festive flavors of summer. I encourage all of you who, like myself, stay away from the homemade ice cream scene to hop on over and give this recipe a go 🙂
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
With love,
Erica

Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 peaches, diced
1 cup graham crackers, crushed (I used cinnamon grahams, of course)

Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks in large bowl. Whisk sweetened
condensed milk, butter, vanilla and cinnamon in large bowl. Stir in peaches and graham cracker crumbs. Fold in whipped cream.
Pour into a 2-quart container and cover. Freeze 6 hours or until firm. Store in freezer.

perfect cream puffs

My mom has a thing for cream puffs. That is why I chose to take on the challenge of making my own fresh cream puffs at home for Mother’s Day.
Whenever we go to visit family in Hawaii, we always set aside a moment to share a delicious Beard Papa’s puff together. When we were in New York City this past Spring, we savored some of the most delicious cream puffs ever — made by a little Japanese woman behind at a tiny counter in a busy market. I guess you could say that sampling the world’s cream puffs has become one of the special things that we do together.
When I took on this challenge of making these simple puffs at home, I realized that a lot of the recipes out there were quite complicated, with various rituals such as leaving the oven open to let the puffs dry out, or with complicated recipes for french pastry cream. However, cream puffs don’t have to be this complicated — with a good pate a choux recipe up my sleeve, and a fool-proof recipe for fresh whipped cream, I was able to create these beautiful, fluffy, eggy pastries with ease.
With love,
Erica

after being popped out of the freezer
fresh from the oven, before being piped with cream

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting) 

Recipe Notes:
You can freeze the piped dough rounds on the baking sheets, then transfer to resealable plastic bags and freeze for up to 1 month. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing apart (do not defrost) and continue with recipe (brushing with egg wash and baking at 375F). This is especially helpful because cream puffs are best when freshly baked, and do not keep very well after being piped with cream.  

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit 1 large pastry bag with plain 1/2-inch tip (I usually use a plastic freezer bag with 1/2-inch cut from one bottom corner.



Bring milk, butter, 1 tsp. sugar, salt, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium sauce- pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add flour all at once; reduce heat to medium-low. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a dough forms and pulls away from sides of pan, 1–2 minutes.
Continue beating vigorously for about 1 minute. Transfer to a medium sized bowl.

Add 1 egg and stir vigorously with wooden spoon until egg is incorporated and dough looks dry again, about 2 minutes. Repeat with 4 more eggs, adding one at a time and stirring vigorously to incorporate before adding the next. Dough should be smooth, shiny, and thickened.

Scoop dough into prepared pastry bag; pipe out rounds about an inch high and with a 2 1/2 inch diameter on prepared sheets, leaving 2 inches between rounds.  (now would be the time to freeze the rounds if you plan to bake them later)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk remaining egg with 2 tsp. water and brush each puff all over with egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes until puffs turn a deep golden brown.



Prepare a second bag with 1/2-inch open-star tip. Beat heavy cream and remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar in a large bowl until soft peaks form (I flavored the cream with a fresh vanilla bean, but feel free to flavor it however you please). Place whipped cream into prepared pastry bag. Puncture a small hole in the side of each puff, and fill each puff with cream. Dust tops of cream puffs with powdered sugar.

The Perfect Cream Puff

Sometimes, the best baked treats come not from the popular, hip bakeries of the city (ex. Georgetown Cupcake and Magnolia Bakery), but rather come from those little specialty stores that may not even have a name. I had the honor of discovering one of these places today in New York City. After having a quick shot of espresso at Café Zaiya, I ventured next door, to a little Japanese grocery store that I think is called Yagura. In the front of the store, there was a little lady set up with a stand, selling fresh cream puffs. They were so fresh, she piped the cream into the puff right as you ordered it. Simple as that. There were only two things that one could order at this little stand – plain, and azuki cream puffs. But this lady sure knew what she was doing! I ordered the plain cream puff, and it was the best cream puff I have ever tasted. It had a thin, crispy, lighter –than-air puff, with a delicate, eggy flavor filled with flawlessFrench pastry cream with just the perfect amount of vanilla. Delicately dusted with just enough powdered sugar – this cream puff was a work of art. I hope that next time you find yourself in the city, this little lady will still be whipping up her delicious, perfect cream puffs. 
With love, Erica
 
Freshly baked choux, before being piped with pastry cream

The simple beauty of the cream puff

Look at that light and fluffy texture!