Pumpkin Ginger-Spiced Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting (And. . . Water Aerobics for The Pale)
I'd like to be the official spokeswoman for pumpkin. Forget the milk ads with mustache-laden celebs, let's start a campaign for pumpkin people! Any time I whip up a pumpkin creation--like these cupcakes, I find they have a very short stay in my kitchen. Remember last fall there was somewhat of a pumpkin shortage. I mean, can you imagine fall without pumpkins? Oh the horror! I've been buying up cans of pumpkin like, well, like a person with a pumpkin hoarding problem. But I will be using every single bit of it!
By the way, to all my wiccans: Happy Fall! I am celebrating this changing of the seasons by enrolling in a new excercise class: water aerobics. But first let me talk about my pumpkin cupcakes a second. I am very proud of this latest confection. I have none left after three days and sharing some with my neighbor, and will be making more today.
The aroma of this cupcake is what first grabs you. Why spend $25 on a candle that says "Pumpkin Spice" when all you really have to do is get baking! I added crystallized ginger to these babies taking the spice flavor factor up about tenfold. Then made them even more incredible by topping with a cinnamon buttercream frosting. Ttrust me on this one--the frosting is the deal breaker here. Don't just do your typical buttercream, it would be a sin to skip the cinnamon. Also, don't get your crystallized ginger from the "regular" grocery store and have to mortgage your house to pay for it-- go find a really good international food store and check out their bulk area--the cost difference will astound you. I have a huge container of the stuff and it will probably last me another year. (I also like to take a piece out here and there and chew on it once in a while--good for the mood, good for the tummy.)
So, I enrolled in this water aerobic class yesterday. I'll keep this brief and offer you the highlights of my latest excercise endeavor. Running has taken a bit of a back seat lately because I am scared to death of suffering through another "running" injury and though I still will do a few miles here and there, my OCD on the matter of running has simmered down a bit. I think once our weather stays consistently in the sixties, my running will return. But right now--St. Louis is again in the high eighties to nineties today so my running impulses are not what they usually tend to be. Okay, so I used to be a YMCA aerobic instructor. I even still carry my credentials with me in my purse in the event I am "found" tipped over in my car on the side of the road. The ambulance and rescue people, upon finding my wallet in an attempt to identify me will all look at one another and say, Oh wow, she was an aerobic instructor. . . such a sad loss.
I ran into my neighbor yesterday morning in my PJs (my usual morning wardrobe--until about ten on some days)--when she said she had enrolled in this water aerobic class. I was like, whoa--that sounds like a blast. But then visions of "much" older women than she and I crept into my memory, flapping around in waist deep water with wings and such strapped to their arms, splashing and making waves. . . are they really getting a workout? Is this what the end for me will be--amongst those who splash? I am proud to say YES! All except for the blue rinse hair, I am One with the splashers now! I. loved. splashing!
Now, it wasn't a pretty sight, okay? Here I am in a bathing suit from over ten years ago. (I rank swim suit shopping, jean shopping and bra shopping as the "trinity of humiliation"--so I try not to partake in unless absolutely necessary.) I have a "onesie", black--very cute, at least I thought back then. But here I am today, all. . . well. . . all Almost Fifty, quite pale in the lower extremities, and a little, uh, a little more here, a little more there. I'll leave it at that. I had a blast though! I was so smitten with the flapping and splashing--I had memories of being a kid playing in Lake Michigan (minus the smell of steel mills and dead fish floating around me)--and was completely taken aback by how much aerobic one can actually accomplish in the confines of a rec center indoor pool. This was the change I needed to fight off the excercise routine fatigue I had been having since running sort of had to decrease a bit. Boredom will kill anyone's desire to stay active. You must change it up. You must step away from the comfort zone of sameness. That is exactly what I did yesterday and by nine last night, every single muscle in my body felt the difference. I have another class today, then plan to bake more cupcakes!
Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and sugar on top to give them a little extra boost. These will impress everyone, trust me!
A quick update: My butterly bushes are just running over with monarch butterflies right now. They are desperately trying to find enough nectar to get them to Mexico. It's so fun watching them. They are shy creatures and very jittery. I took about two dozen photos trying to capture them in action--this is one of my better.
Pumpkin Ginger-Spiced Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
(Adapted from Martha Stewart "Cupcakes")
*This recipe made ten large--sized cupcakes, will make appx. 15 of regular sized--but watch the baking time if you make smaller size!
1 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup unsalted vegan margerine
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer: 3 teaspoons mixed with 4 tablespoons of warm water)
1/8 cup crystallized ginger cut up into small diced pieces
Preheat oven to 325. Lightly spray your cupcake tins. Again, I used the larger, Texas-sized cupcake holders. If you use regular sized, your baking time may be shorter by a few minutes. Mix together all dry ingredients--flour, baking powder, salt and seasonings in a medium mixing bowl--I used the scoop and scrape method to measure the flour. Whisk together well. Next prep your wet ingredients. Mix your Ener-G Egg Replacer together and set aside. Then, take your margerine out and cut it up into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl--or in the bowl of your kithen stand mixer. First cream your margerine, then add the brown sugar and finally add egg replacer, pumpkin, and vanilla extract. Next, add the crytallized ginger and use a spoon to fold into the wet mixture. To this, add the dry ingredients in thirds--turn mixer on just to incorporate each addition of the dry stuff. Once all dry has been added, give it another good mix--about ten seconds on medium speed, until the mixture is a bit smooth--but it won't be like cake batter and you DON'T want to overmix this. The batter will be thick. Now, spoon enough of the batter to fill each cupcake holder about two-thirds full. If you have empty cupcake holders--fill them about half way with water and be careful placing into the oven! Bake for about 20 minutes. Use the toothpick test to check for doneness--but only after the full baking time of 20 minutes has passed--if you open the oven door too soon, your cupcakes will fall. (Adding the water to the empty cups helps the cupcakes rise a bit more--but these don't rise a lot--well, mine didn't which was fine--they are very good regardless!) Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan about five minutes, then remove from cupcake pan. Gently pour the water out from the empty tins. Then turn it upside down and the cupcakes should pop out. Then, place cupcakes on cooling rack for remainder of cooling time. Cool fully before frosting! Prepare the frosting while they bake.
Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
1/4 cup vegan margerine
1/4 cup vegan shortening
2 cups powdered sugar (or more--depending upon "fluff" factor)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon soy milk
1-to-1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (or more depending upon your cinnamon factor)
*a little bit of cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling on top
Place the margerine and shortening in a large mixing bowl and cream together. Add the remaining ingrdients and mix until creamy. Just add more or less of liquid or dry ingredients depending upon how it tastes as you go. (This is the way I make my frosting, so it's hard for me to tell you "exactly" how much powdered sugar might be required.)