Along with blonde hair, a boatload of allergies, and a strange sense of humor, my mom also passed a dislike of Halloween down to me. She was never a fan of the holiday, and put an end to trick-or-treating when I was maybe seven or so. Instead, my brother and I got to pick out three king sized candy bars each, and then we stayed home giving out candy to the other kids that came to visit our neighborhood. Sounds mean, right? Truth is, I didn’t really care. I’ve never liked seeing people in masks, the feeling of being scared, or knocking on stranger’s doors. And, as Halloween involves all of these things, I am more than happy to not participate.
This year, I guess I was feeling a bit more festive than usual, and decided to make cupcakes to celebrate. I’ve had a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Latte cupcakes bookmarked since September (along with a million other pumpkin and apple recipes that I just know I’ll get around to. Someday.), and this seemed like the perfect time to try them out. They were pretty easy to make, and tasted exactly like my favorite Starbucks’ beverage. The combination of espresso powder in the batter and brewed coffee brushed onto the cakes while they are still warm lends a rich flavor to the finished product. The batter also includes canned pumpkin, which makes for an extremely moist cupcake. I omitted the cloves, but added a bit more cinnamon and nutmeg than the recipe called for, because I like an extra hit of these flavors in my pumpkin flavored treats.
So, you should probably skip the trick-or-treating and just stay home and make these cupcakes. But, if Halloween is your thing, hope you had a great one. I’ll probably celebrate tomorrow by hitting up the big candy sale at my local CVS to get a Reese’s variety mix (the one with the Fast Breaks, Peanut Butter Cups, etc.) for me and a bag of Indian corn for Chester.
Now, bring on Thanksgiving and Christmas–those are the holidays that really matter!
Makes 2 dozen cupcakes
What you will need
For the cupcakes:
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp. espresso powder *
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup coffee or espresso, for brushing
* If you can’t find espresso powder, you can use instant coffee. You’ll probably need to use about 50% more than the amount of powder that the recipe calls for if you go this route).
For the whipped cream frosting:
- 2¼ cups heavy cream, chilled
- ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
For the caramel sauce:**
- 1 cup sugar
- 1¼ cups heavy cream
- ¼ tsp. coarse salt
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract (the original recipe also calls for vanilla bean, which I didn’t have. It was fine without it.)
** Try not to get the melted sugar on your fingers. It will burn like hell and leave an ugly blister.
Ground cinnamon to garnish
What to do
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tin.
- In a medium bowl, combine the first eight ingredients (flour through salt). Stir to combine.
- Using an electric mixer, blend pumpkin, sugars, and oil. Add eggs one at a time and blend after each addition until fully incorporated.
- With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour until combined.
- Fill cupcake liners ¾ of the way and bake for 18 to 20 minutes (or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for ten minutes in pans, and transfer to wire racks. Brush cupcakes with brewed coffee two or three times. Allow to cool completely.
- To make whipped cream for frosting, beat heavy cream using whisk attachment of electric mixer, until stiff peaks form. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar.
- To make caramel sauce, spread sugar in the bottom of a saucepan and place over medium-low heat. When edges begin to liquefy, use heatproof spatula to move it towards the center of the pan. Keep stirring until sugar is completely melted. Once the sugar reaches a deep amber color, take off heat. Stir in half of the heavy cream (the mixture will bubble like crazy) until fully incorporated. Whisk in the rest of the cream, along with the salt and vanilla. Allow to cool before using.
- Use pastry bag and decorative tip to frost cooled cupcakes. Drizzle with caramel sauce and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Refrigerate cupcakes (if you have any leftovers).