Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve got to say it: I don’t like Pumpkin Spice, the flavor. Doesn’t matter if it’s in a latte, a candy bar, ice cream… I tend to stay away.

But pumpkin, spiced? Now that’s a flavor. It all comes down to ingredients, and where the “spice” is coming from. When you take actual pumpkin and punch it up with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, you get magic. When you dilute it all down to some Pumpkin Spice syrup, you really just get the sugar.

The Pumpkin Spice Cupcake recipe I’m sharing today adds buttermilk into the mix for even more flavor. It’s a smart move, giving the cake more depth than pumpkin could contribute on its own.

IMG_0387You’ll top these cupcakes with a simple-but-awesome Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. You could omit the cinnamon if you want something simpler, but I highly recommend keeping it in there. It’s the perfect complement to the spiced cupcakes and makes for an all around awesome treat.

This recipe means serious spice business, so make sure you have everything on hand before you start. It’s a good amount of measuring small bits of spices, but I promise it’s worth it! I turned a bundt cake recipe into cupcakes since I don’t own a bundt pan. If you’re interested in other sizes, check out the reader comments on Cozycakes Cottage.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Original recipe: Cozycakes Cottage. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: ~26 cupcakes

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~2 hours

Cook Time: ~18 minutes

Ingredients

For your cake

  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tps baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/3 cups canned pumpkin (you’ll need one 15 oz can)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (I used dried buttermilk. If you do the same, follow the instructions on your can!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs

For your frosting 

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk

Instructions

Make your cake batter 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Mix your flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt in a large mixing bowl, then set it aside. If you’re using dried buttermilk, mix that in too.
  3. Mix your pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl. If you’re using dried buttermilk, make sure to add water at this step!
  4. Use your mixer to beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until they’re fluffy. It’ll take a few minutes.
  5. Add your eggs, and beat until they’re totally incorporated.
  6. Turn the mixer speed down to low. Add your flour and pumpkin mixtures in there, alternating between the two until you’re out of both. Make sure everything is mixed together before moving on—sometime dry ingredients hide in clumps at the bottom of batter!
  7. Line your cupcake tin, and fill each tin about 2/3 of the way full.
  8. Bake 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Mine took exactly 18 minutes.
  9. Let the cupcakes cool in their tins for about 10 minutes, then remove and cool all the way on a wire rack. Make sure they’re completely cooled before you frost them!

Frost your cupcakes

  1. Use your mixer to beat the butter and cream cheese until they’re fluffy. It’ll take a couple minutes on medium speed.
  2. Add your vanilla and cinnamon, and beat again.
  3. Lower the speed, and gradually add your powdered sugar. Mix until it’s smooth and fully combined.
  4. Add the milk, and mix again.
  5. Frost your cupcakes, and enjoy!

 

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Apricot White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes I go a little crazy and stock up on WAY too many baking supplies. It’s usually because things are on sale…or because I’m trying to hit a free shipping minimum.

It’s not a huge deal, because I bake a lot. But sometimes I go extra overboard and run out of pantry space.* Right now, I’ve got extra caramels, semolina, M&Ms, rye flour…it’s quite the diverse list of impulse baking buys, and I’m on a mission to use it all up!

IMG_0290First on my list: These Apricot White Chocolate Chip Cookies. My leftover apricots met leftover white chocolate chips in a perfectly spiced, chewy cookie. Oatmeal and fruit cookies are some of my favorites but they’re often overlooked in favor of flashier flavors. Don’t underestimate the power of a good spice combo, and fruit. These star cinnamon, nutmeg and dark brown sugar for the perfect flavor combo.

Of course, the whole reason I made these was to use up leftover white chocolate chips. But honestly, I don’t think they even needed the white chocolate chips at all. Next time, I might add in a second kind of fruit instead, or swap in some dried peaches for the apricots and call it a day.

Apricot White Chocolate Cookies

Original recipe: The Redhead Baker. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: ~3 dozen cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~An hour

Cook Time: ~12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp sinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup dried apricots, diced
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (if you want them!)
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Use your mixer to cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar until it’s light and fluffy
  3. Add your egg and vanilla, then beat until the mixture is well-blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl before you move on
  4. In a separate bowl, stir your flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder and nutmeg until it’s mixed together
  5. Add in your dried apricot pieces, and toss with the flour mixture. This keeps the apricots from clumping together in the dough
  6. Add the dry ingredients to your mixer bowl. Mix until combined
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips and rolled oats by hand. You just want to get them distributed throughout the dough—don’t overmix the dough
  8. Line baking sheets with parchment, and place balls of dough about two inches apart. Dampen your hands with water, and press down on each dough ball before you throw the sheet into the oven
  9.  Bake your cookies 9-12 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when the edges begin to turn dark brown
  10. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on their pans, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

The cookies keep well and freeze well, but be careful transporting them because they can get a little crumbly!

Cornflake Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies

Back in 2010, I spent a whirlwind winter weekend in NYC. I don’t remember many details about that trip—but I do know it was the first time I went to Milk Bar.

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Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar is a NYC institution. Tosi is famous for her treats like Cornflake Cookies, Cereal Milk Soft Serve and naked Birthday Cakes. I’d heard rave reviews from friends who lived in NYC, and couldn’t wait to try it for myself. So we ordered a lot: some soft serve, a couple cookies and a truffle on the side. Everything was great, but the cookies stood out the most. Over the years, I tried more flavors whenever I happened to pass by a Milk Bar. And then I found this recipe, and decided to recreate the Milk Bar goodness for myself.
These Cornflake Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies are truly something else. My
 tasters compared them to a caramelized Rice Krispie treat—but better! They’re salty but sweet, chewy but crunchy…and highly addicting.
I used an adapted recipe from Butter with a Side of Bread, and my cookies turned out great. Note that they spread a lot while baking, so make sure to allow space on your cookie sheet!

Cornflake Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original recipe: Butter with a Side of Bread I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~36 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: 3.5 hours, including chill time

Cook Time: ~15 minutes

Ingredients

Cornflake crunch

  • 5 cups cornflake cereal
  • 1/2 cup milk powder (I got mine from Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 9 tbsp butter, melted

Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups cornflake crunch
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows

Instructions

Make your cornflake crunch

  1. Preheat your oven to 275F
  2. Pour your cornflakes into a medium bowl, then use a cup to crush them into bits
  3. Add the milk powder, sugar and salt
  4. Toss the whole mixture
  5. Add your melted butter, and toss the mixture again. As you mix, you’ll bind the ingredients together into little clusters
  6. Line a cookie sheet with parchment, and spread your cornflake clusters onto the pan
  7.  Bake for 15-20 minutes. Start checking around 15 to see how things look—you don’t want burnt clusters! When they’re ready, they’ll smell buttery and look toasted. They’ll get a bit chewier as they cool
  8. Let the crunch cool completely before you use it in your cookies. You can make the crunch ahead of time, too. It will stay fresh at room temp for about a week, and will last about a month if you put it in the freezer or fridge.

Make your dough

  1. Use a mixer to cream your butter, sugar and brown sugar. Use the medium-high setting for about 2-3 minutes
  2. Scrape your bowl, then add in the egg and vanilla. Beat again, 7-8 minutes
  3. Turn down your mixer to low. Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix only until it comes together as a dough—should be about a minute
  4. Stir in your cornflake crunch and mini chocolate chips by hand
  5. Portion your dough into 1/4 cup balls
  6. Flatten each dough ball, and place 2 mini marshmallows in the middle.
  7. Refrigerate your dough balls for at least an hour. This keeps the dough from spreading, so don’t skip this step!

Bake your cookies

  1. Preheat your oven to 365F
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  3. Place your dough balls at least 4 inches apart on the cookie sheet
  4. Bake your cookies 11-16 minutes. Mine took 13. You’ll know they’re done when the cookies are puffed, crackled and spread out
  5. Cool completely before serving. These will keep well for a few days in an airtight container

 

Milky Way Chocolate Chip Blondies

For friends’ birthdays, I like to ask about their favorite flavors and surprise them with a special treat. Sometimes I try to fly under the radar and just pepper food questions into normal conversation so they don’t suspect what I’m up to. Other times…I’m way more obvious about it and literally ask people to send me their favorite flavors.

DSC07981That’s the kind of questioning that led to these awesome blondies. One of my friends said she really loved Milky Way candy bars–and I couldn’t resist finding a way to bake with them.

Lucky for me, Crazy for Crust had already thought about this. I used her recipe for Milky Way Chocolate Chip Blondies, but cut the caramel chips. I’m a huge fan of recipes that use a ton of flavors but for some reason, the caramel chips felt like too much going on.

These bake up beautifully, with a classic blondie top and a really nicely textured middle layer of caramel, chocolate and nougat. The Milky Way candy bars melt into a wonderful flavor combo and take these bars to the next level.

I never would have thought to bake with Milky Ways since I don’t really eat them–so thanks to the friend that inspired this!

Milky Way Chocolate Chip Blondies

Original recipe:  Crazy for Crust. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~30 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~1 hour

Cook Time: ~25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed firmly into your measuring cup
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 15 Fun Size Milky Way candy bars, chopped into pieces

Step by Step Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Line a 9×13 pan with foil and spray it with nonstick cooking spray
  3. Use the paddle attachment on your mixer cream your brown sugar and butter
  4. Add eggs and vanilla, then beat until combined
  5. Add baking powder, salt and flour. Mix until combined
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped Milky Way bars
  7. Press your dough into the prepared pan. The dough can get sticky, but you can spray your hands with cooking spray so the dough doesn’t stick as much while you’re trying to spread it
  8. Bake for about 22-25 minutes. Keep a close eye on these blondies–you don’t want to overcook them! The center will still jiggle a bit when the bars are done, but they’ll firm up as the bars cool
  9. Let the bars cool completely before slicing them into pieces

These keep for a few days in an airtight container, or you can freeze them to save the goodness for longer.

 

Cinnamon Cayenne Brownies with Cinnamon Buttercream

This might be the perfect spicy sweet treat. First you make rich, fudgy brownies, slightly spiked with a bit of cayenne. Then you add a smooth, cinnamon-tinged buttercream. The finished dessert is chocolatey, spicy and sweet all at once. It’s pretty incredible!

IMG_7222I’ve made other spicy chocolate recipes in the past, but think this one’s my new favorite. There’s a really great depth to the brownie recipe: it’s a satisfying, deep chocolate, and the spices bring out more flavor. The cinnamon buttercream adds yet another layer of flavor, and complements the brownies in a really unique way. I used a pretty thin layer of buttercream compared to the original recipe, and felt good about the frosting/brownie combo. You could also cut the frosting altogether if you’re short on time or watching your decadence–the brownies definitely stand on their own!

Several coworkers declared this recipe their favorite thing I’ve baked. I’ve brought quite a few things into the office over time so…that’s quite the declaration!

Cinnamon Cayenne Brownies with Cinnamon Buttercream

Original recipe: Garnish with Lemon. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: ~25 brownies

Suggested equipment: Mixer optional

Total Time: ~2 hours, including cooling time

Cook Time: 27-32 minutes

Ingredients

For your brownies

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

For your frosting

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 16 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk or heavy cream (I used milk, it’ll be a little thicker if you use cream)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

Make your brownies 

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F
  2. Whisk your flour, cinnamon and cayenne in a small bowl
  3. Place the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a large microwaveable bowl. Heat in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment. Repeat this process until the butter is fully melted, then put the mixture aside so it can cool a bit
  4. Stir your vanilla and eggs into the cocoa mixture. Your batter should be thick and shiny when you’re done
  5. Add the dry ingredients, and stir again until just mixed
  6. Beat the whole batter vigorously for about 30 seconds
  7. Line a 8×8 pan with parchment, leaving a little hanging over the edges so it’s easier to pull the brownies out later
  8. Pour your batter into the pan
  9. Bake for 27-32 minutes. Mine took the full 32. Stick a toothpick in the middle to check for doneness. Your toothpick should have just a few crumbs sticking to it when these are done
  10. Cool the brownies in the pan for 15 minutes, then lift them out to cool completely before frosting. You don’t want to frost hot brownies–the frosting will just melt all over the place!

Frost your brownies

  1. Put your powdered sugar and butter in a mixer bowl. Beat them for about 2-3 minutes, until it’s totally smooth
  2. Add salt, vanilla, milk or cream and cinnamon. Mix it altogether until the frosting is thick and smooth. Taste the frosting before declaring it done–sometimes I add a little more sugar or salt depending on how things are coming together!
  3. Frost your brownies, then cut them into squares. I found these a little harder to cut than some other brownie recipes, so definitely use a sharp knife!

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Olive Oil Chocolate Cake (Dairy-Free)

I’ve never been one to use the word “unfussy” to talk about food. And yet, here we are: let’s talk about this unfussy cake. It’s rich and delicious, but also really simple. It’s great on its own–but also easy to dress up with mix-ins, toppings or ice cream.

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I also love that this recipe is dairy-free, because I have several friends who avoid dairy. Olive oil gives the cake a great texture, and also brings out richness from the cocoa. The cake is light, airy and the perfect ending to a dinner with friends.

I opted to use regular flour in this, but the original recipe gives you substitutions if you want to make it gluten-free.

Olive Oil Chocolate Cake (Dairy-Free)

Original recipe: Nigella Lawson. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: One 9-inch cake

Suggested equipment: Mixer; food processor if you need to grind sugar

Total Time: 1.5 hours

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup olive oil, plus more to grease the pan
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (You can find this at some stores, usually called superfine sugar, baker’s sugar or caster sugar. Alternatively, you can just use your food processor to grind up standard granulated sugar. I followed The Kitchn’s advice, and ground up 1 cup plus 2 tsp of sugar in the food processor for roughly 30 seconds.) 
  • 3 large eggs
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F
  2. Sift your cocoa into a bowl
  3. Whisk in your boiling water until it’s a smooth paste. It will still look a little runny
  4. Whisk in your vanilla, then let the mixture cool for a bit
  5. In a separate bowl, mix your flour, baking soda and salt
  6. Use your mixer to beat the sugar, olive oil and eggs. You should beat them for about 3 minutes until it’s a thickened, yellow-ish cream
  7. Turn the speed down on your mixer, and add in your cocoa with the mixer still running. Stop to scrape as needed
  8. Use a spatula to mix in the flour. When you’re ready to bake, your mix should look dark and liquidy
  9. Grease a 9 inch cake pan (or springform if you have it!) with oil and line it with parchment
  10. Bake 40-45 minutes, until the sides are set but the top still looks a little damp. Use a toothpick to check for doneness–it should be mostly clean with just a few crumbs
  11. Let the cake cool in its tin for 10 minutes
  12. Remove the cake from its pan
  13. Dust with powdered sugar right before serving

 

 

Recipe roundup: Valentine’s Day

I loved Valentine’s Day as a kid. It was an excuse to eat lots of candy, wear lots of pink and tell people nice things. What’s not to like?

I wish we did Valentine’s Day mailboxes at work, like we did as kids. Maybe I should make that happen next year. But in the meantime, I’m sitting here daydreaming about pink cupcakes and heart-shaped cookies and all the other lip-smacking Valentine’s Day desserts.

Here’s a roundup of the Valentine’s Day recipes I’m most excited about this year, plus some recipes from my blog that just might do the trick for your V-day needs.

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From Jo Cooks

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Scones: Start your day with a dash of red and a bit of sugar. These scones from Jo Cooks sure look scrumptious.

Olive Oil Cupcakes with Berry Buttercream: The base cupcake is an intriguing mix of almond, orange and olive oil. Top that with a mixed berry buttercream, and you have yourself a Valentine’s Day winner. These come from Molly Yeh, so you know they’re good!

Blackberry Lemon Cake: This cake from Natasha’s Kitchen gets its flavor from blackberry frosting and lemon simple syrup. It’s simple, sounds delicious and the blackberries make it a lovely shade of purply pink.

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From Bakers Royale

Watercolor Heart Cookies: I saw these gorgeous cookies from Bakers Royale in my Pinterest feed yesterday and can’t stop thinking about them!

Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting: I love frosted brownies, and this recipe from The Recipe Critic looks delightfully rich.

M&M Cookie Bars: A simple cookie bar recipe, jazzed up with seasonal pink and red M&Ms by No.2 Pencil.

Strawberry Thyme Cake: One last cake option for you, because I can never resist a bit of herbs with my dessert. This combo from The Cake Blog sounds delicious and looks great!

Conversation Heart Cookies: These cookies are so fun, especially because I Am A Food Blog strayed away from traditional V-day colors. As much as I love red and pink, it’s nice to have some other colors in the mix, too!

Recipes on this blog:

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Craving more ideas? Check out my Valentine’s Day Pinterest board.