Friday, November 9, 2012

Chocolate Spice Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Pudding Frosting

I wish we really got to feel the different seasons here in Texas, but unfortunately it just doesn't really happen. Oh sure we have had a "cold front" come through now and then, but it only drops into the 50's for one maybe two days and then jumps right back up to the 80's again. So we have to use other things to make us feel like it's fall. I have been waiting for it to get cold enough to go and enjoy my first pumpkin latte of the season, but it never did so I decided to go anyway. I sure am glad I did because the winter flavors are already out and I almost missed it!

I absolutely love fall baking. I love the flavors and the smells of all the spices, it makes a home feel so warm and comfy. That was what I was trying to recreate when I came up with these cupcakes. I have had spice cake before, but never a chocolate spice cake. I knew chocolate and cinnamon went wonderfully together so I knew it would be good. Bake a Holiday Spice Lindor Truffle in the middle of it and top it with Pumpkin Spice Pudding Frosting and you have a winner.

I am always on the hunt for a not-so-sweet frosting. The other half hates frosting, I know such a strong word for a sugary topping, but he just will not eat it. I have to agree with him on the sickening sweet buttercreams, I really can't stand those either, but I sure do love a swiss meringue buttercream. So I'm always trying new frosting recipes to prove him wrong and show him how great it can be. This one did the trick, I got two thumbs up from the non-frosting lover of the house, so you know it's good. I found it on The Hungry Housewife and knew I had to try it right away. For the cake I spiced up my go-to chocolate cake recipe.

Chocolate Spice Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Pudding Frosting 

Chocolate Spice Cake
2 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup of cocoa
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup of boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Line two cupcakes tins with liners.

3. Place all the dry ingredients (except for cocoa) into a large bowl and combine.

4. Then add the eggs, buttermilk, and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients.

5. Add the cocoa and the vanilla extract to the boiling water and add the mixture. (I usually let my mixture cool a bit before I add it to the mixture)

6. Mix everything together at medium speed until everything is combined.

7. Pour into prepared tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. (I used a measuring cup with a spout and poured my batter into the liners and mine baked perfectly at 23 minutes and I baked a few mini cupcakes and they baked for 17 minutes)

***Now I added a little something extra by baking a Lindor Holiday Spice Milk Chocolate Truffle in the middle of my cupcakes, but you can add any filling you would like or leave it out all together.***

8. Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes before removing from pan and cooling on baking rack.

Pumpkin Spice Pudding Frosting
2 3.4 oz package Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding Mix
3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
2 cups Cold Whole Milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
16 oz. Cool Whip, thawed

1. In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, mix together the pudding and meringue powder.

2. Add the milk and vanilla extract.

3. Beat for about 1 minute or until the mixture becomes thick.

4. Beat in the Cool Whip and beat until just combined.

5. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill and set.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fall Pantry Granola Bars

Every single year maybe about two or three times throughout the year I go through a "healthy phase." I try to be somewhat healthy year round but I always feel like the sweets that I bake and eat are packing on too many pounds and I need to drop the calorie count. I vow to bake a great "healthy" dessert that will taste delicious. I have to say these healthier versions taste good, but are definitely not comparable to their butter, sugar, and chocolate filled counterparts. If I had the two to choose from I would take the latter every time with a side of guilt. Well, I've been in that phase. After being on vacation and eating loads of deliciously bad things and then the 1/2 marathon coming up I felt like I should make an effort. I've always loved granola bars, but have never tried making my own. I thought it was about time and after searching through recipes I found one that I liked that looked like a good start.

Fall Pantry Granola Bars

3 1/4 cups traditional rolled oats
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar splenda
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 apple sauce
1/4 honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup mixed nuts (I used nuts from a trail mix that had a lot of pumpkin seeds, had to pick out the raisins though)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8x8in baking pan with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper and set aside.

2.  In a large bowl whisk together the oats, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.

3.  In a medium bowl whisk together the brown sugar splenda, pumpkin, applesauce, honey, and vanilla extract until combined and smooth.

4.  Pour the mixture over the oats and use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to mix until all the oats are moistened, then stir in the chocolate chips and mixed nuts.

5.  Evenly press the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure not to underbake. Remove from the oven and cool on wire rack. Cut bars and serve.

*Leftover bars can be individually wrapped in plastic wrap or stored in and airtight container and kept at room temperature.

Recipe reprinted from Brown Eyed Baker with a few small changes.


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