Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy 50th Birthday Peace Corps! This Cupcake is for you!

At 2:00 a.m. on October 14, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy addressed students on the steps of the University of Michigan Union. In his speech, he challenged the students to give two years of their lives to help people in countries of the developing world. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer myself, it is a very exciting time to be part of the Peace Corps community. So, in honor of the 200,000+ volunteers who have served or are currently serving, this recipe is for you!

It is autumn in NYC…finally. The leaves are falling from the trees, the air has that cool, crisp bite to it, and you can see pumpkins being sold at all of the markets and kiosks around the city. With this in mind, I am making a Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcake with a Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting for my coworkers tomorrow. This cupcake is a perfect balance of all things delicious, and a great way to honor Peace Corps!

Pumpkin Peace Cupcakes

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or you can buy this in the spice aisle not fresh)
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Start of by preheating your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line muffin tins with paper liners. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown. Once the butter is brown, skim the foam from the top, and remove from heat. So not to burn the butter, next pour it into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind and let cool (I recommend using a strainer of some sort to get rid of any burnt sediment that may have been left).

In one bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves until thoroughly combined. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs, and brown-butter mixture. Add the dry mixture, and stir until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the lined cups, filling each three-quarters full and put them in the oven. While baking, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes depending on the oven. Transfer the tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, frost cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (see below for recipe).

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

First, beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes and reduce the speed to low. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then cinnamon and vanilla. Keep mixing until smooth.

This cupcake smells absolutely amazing when it is baking. The spices mix together and it is all you can do to not eat them right out of the oven (not that doing that would be a bad thing....). Enjoy the smells AND the taste!!

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