Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

I think one of the greatest things about this time of year is the feeling of giving that seems to be everywhere. From the bell-ringers in front of the stores to toy drives at local businesses, I just want to give dang it! One of my favorite things to give other people is the gift of food. I'm not super crafty and I don't have a lot of time to donate (with four small kid I don't have time for anything lately!) but I can whip up something delicious while the baby is napping or when Ben 10 on TV is "babysitting" my boys.

These cupcakes are perfect for making and delivering to your neighbors, teachers, friends or family. You can find the cutest cupcake liners at your local grocery store or craft store (seriously, I could spend a month's worth of income on all the cute cupcake liners available today!) and put them on a pretty plate and ta-da! Instant gift that is sure to please anyone! They are simple to make and the flavors of pumpkin spice and caramel and cream cheese blend together awesomely (totally a word by the way). And don't forget to keep some for yourself!

FOR THE CUPCAKES
Here's what you need for the cupcakes. See the little baggie by the canned pumpkin? It's pumpkin spice from the bulk section of Winco. It's way cheaper to buy your spices this way. The bag of pumpkin spice cost me 21 cents.
Get one cup of pumpkin. I bought a large can so I can save the rest in a separate container for another recipe (like Kelli's pumpkin bread!). Did I also mention that when we bought our first house I was so excited to paint with color that our bedroom was this color orange? Needless to say, the walls literally glowed.
Mix cake mix, pumpkin, oil, eggs, milk, and spice together in a large bowl.
Mix with an electric mixer. By mixing it for a couple of minutes you allow air bubbles to form in the mix which makes your cupcakes light and fluffy.
These taste yummy even without frosting!

FOR THE FROSTING
For the frosting - I have a caramel packet from a pie company in Washington. You can use any caramel you have, like caramel ice cream topping.
First mix the softened cream cheese (microwave for about 10-15 seconds if it's not soft enough) and your stick of butter (NOT margarine!! please people!)
Mix in the powdered sugar a little at a time. If you dump the whole thing in you will end up with a dusty white powdery mess all over your kitchen. Then mix in your spice and caramel.
Isn't it pretty? Before you put it on your cupcakes you are required to take a spoonful and eat it. Required.
Doesn't it look yummy? I dusted mine with a little bit of cinnamon to make it nice and pretty.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
Submitted by Celeste - Girls in Aprons

Cupcakes:
1 pkg. yellow cake mix (2-layer size)
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
4 eggs
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 19-21 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting:
1 cube butter (1/2 cup), softened
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 lb (16 oz) powdered sugar (or 3 3/4 cups)
Splash of vanilla (about 1 tsp.)
1/4 caramel topping (I may have used 1/3 cup - just whatever tastes good to you)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice 
Cinnamon (for optional garnishing)

With an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter. Mix well. Slowly add the powdered sugar, mixing between each addition. Add vanilla, caramel, and pie spice. Frost cupcakes and dust lightly with cinnamon. Refrigerate any leftovers (as if there are going to be leftovers!)

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