The experience of living in another country give you new perspective and understanding but also has a way of helping you appreciate your own country. One such appreciation came to me by surprise while living in Northern Ireland. Autumn arrived rapidly, and with it my desire to bake pumpkin bread, pumpkin cupcakes and pumpkin scones. So, off to the grocery store I went to get that necessary staple of pumpkin recipes: a can of pureed pumpkin. It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
Well, I soon realized that pureed pumpkin is right up there with baseball and sweet tea: something uniquely American. I did, in a moment of pumpkin desperation roast a fresh pumpkin, scrape out the fleshy part and puree it as best I could. The result was, honestly, disgusting.
I am so delighted to be in the land of canned pumpkin once more, y’all. The next time you walk through the grocery store, grab a can of that pureed perfection, because you can! That pumpkin puree is best celebrated in the form of fluffy, light cupcakes, generously swathed in heavenly cream cheese frosting and topped with toasted pecans.
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 10 cupcakes.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1-1⁄4 cup pumpkin puree
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup of vegetable oil (such as canola, not olive oil)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes
Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla and pumpkin puree, then add sugars and oil. Whisk well until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture and whisk until combined. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spoon batter into each liner until 3⁄4 full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While waiting, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Using a spatula, smoosh (technical term) the cream cheese a bit and add the butter pieces, continuing to smoosh until smooth. Sift in the confectioners sugar, whisking until smooth. Finally, add vanilla and mix well. Spoon into a plastic food storage bag, snip the end off and pipe frosting in a circular design onto the top of cooled cupcakes. Generously sprinkle toasted pecans on top.
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The Rev. Whitney Wilkinson is pastor of Cameron Presbyterian Church.