Friday, September 16, 2011

Busy Cooking: Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Living in a country where Halloween isn't celebrated, means you go without certain staple fall items, such as Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  Two years ago, when I was really missing them, I had my mom send me over a bottle of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice syrup so I could make my own- they just never turned out the same.  Now that I'm back in the US and pumpkin spice lattes returned last week, I have no need to buy the syrup.  I do have to say though, once you have experienced the consistent goodness and perfection of your coffee order at a japanese Starbucks, it's hard to come home and get a drink.  Don't get me wrong, the pumpkin spice lattes I've had this week have been good, just some better than others.  (I'm fearing the release of gingerbread lattes because the ones in Japan were so delectable, in fact, I got one EVERY day last winter, knowing that the ones in the US could never compare).

I saw this recipe come up on Annie's Eats last week and I immediately had to make it, like that night had to make it.  I have a friend in Japan that has an affection for pumpkin spice lattes like myself.  I thought if I made the cupcakes and taste tested them, I could let her know if it's worth her time to make them.  I may have surpassed my chance to fit into my pre-baby winter jeans in this round of cupcake making.  I tried the cupcakes before each phase to see which way tasted best (plain, with espresso brushed on, frosted, frosted with cinnamon sugar, frosted with pumpkin spice topping- multiple of those) to come up with what I think any expat without the luxury of a Starbucks serving pumpkin spice lattes this year would enjoy.

Adapted from Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes by Annie's Eats.  I cut down the amount of espresso she recommends in her recipe because both Dave and I thought it overpowered the pumpkin taste in the cupcake, I omitted the caramel topping because I've never had it on a pumpkin spice latte, and I added a sprinkle of straight pumpkin spice to the tops. (I also am mentioning here the recipe for a half batch).
Oven: 350'

1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 TBSP espresso powder (I cut open an espresso pod- you can also finely grind coffee or espresso)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/16 tsp nutmeg (pinch)
1/16 tsp ground cloves (pinch)- I omitted because I didn't have them
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
7.5 oz pumpkin puree (1/2 jar)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs

1/4 cup brewed coffee or espresso for brushing

1 1/8 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/8 cup confectioner's sugar

pumpkin spice for dusting

1) Preheat oven and prepare cupcake pans with liners.

2) In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, set aside.

3) In bowl of mixer, with paddle attachment, combine pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, and oil.  Scrape down sides, add in eggs one at a time, scrape down sides after mixing.

4) Slowly add flour mixture, scrape down sides, mix until just combined.

5) Add batter into cupcake liners about 3/4 full.  Bake until stick inserted in center comes out clean.  For minis, approximately 14-17 minutes, big ones about 18-22 minutes.  This made 6 large and 22 minis.

6) Let cool, then brush tops with 2-3 coats of the brewed espresso or coffee.  Let dry. (You can leave some plain if you have crazy kids that don't need any extra energy ;))

7) For the icing, beat heavy cream on high (with hand mixer), once it begins to thicken ~2 minutes, add in confectioner's sugar, continue to beat on high until it thickens.  You will notice it gets thick enough that it keeps its shape when you move the mixers around, about 4-5 minutes.  Don't overmix or it will appear slightly lumpy.

8) Frost cupcakes, garnish with pumpkin spice, and enjoy with your favorite hot beverage!

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