Halloween baking: mini spiced pumpkin & chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing…

Now, if I’m honest I’m not a big fan of Halloween. Being a complete scaredy cat isn’t particularly conducive to any sort of Halloween activity. However, I love an excuse for some good old themed baking and made it my mission to use the pumpkins that arrived recently in my veg box to do just that!…

I find that pumpkins are a lot less tasty than their butternut squash brethren and need a lot of spice/ cream/ sugar adding to make them taste of anything at all, which set me another challenge, to find a recipe that does justice to the humble pumpkin.

After a bit of online trawling, I found a couple of tasty sounding recipes which called for pumpkin puree. So, I set about making my pumpkins into puree…

To do this you need to halve your pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits and throw them away. Place the empty pumpkin halves face down on a baking tray…

Bake it at 180 degrees for 45 mins to 1 hour until soft (you can test whether they’re ready by inserting a knife into the skin, it should slide in with no resistance)…

Let them cool a bit before scooping the flesh into a bowl…

You need just 1 cup’s worth for this recipe but I recommend measuring the remaining pumpkin puree into cup portions and popping it in bags or containers in the freezer for next time you fancy a bit of baking.

Now the first time I made this recipe I followed advice on the ‘how to cook good food’ blog and used dark brown sugar and added a tablespoon of rum along with chocolate chips and the results were divine…a deliciously moist loaf cake with a subtle rum kick…what’s not to like!

In my mission to theme it up even more I decided to make the recipe into cupcakes.

To make 1 loaf cake or 12-14 cupcakes you’ll need…

1 cup (240ml) pumpkin puree

120ml sunflower oil

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp mixed spice

200g plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

200g dark brown sugar

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100g dark chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin or line a 12 hole cupcake tin with cases in preparation.

Mix the cooled pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, water and spices together. I used an electric mixer but it would definitely be easy enough to do by hand.

Sift in the flour, salt, sugar and bicarbonate of soda and mix until it’s all combined but be careful not to over mix. Finally add the chocolate chips (and 1 tbsp rum if you’re feeling frivolous :).

Pour the cake mixture into the loaf tin or fill each cupcake cake until two thirds full and pop in the oven.

The loaf will take 50 minutes to 1 hour and the cupcakes will only take about 30 minutes. You can check whether they’re ready by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean it’s ready. If not, pop it back in for a few minutes before checking again.

When your cake(s) are ready leave them to cool on a wire rack…

I used orange cupcake cases and decided I was going to turn my cupcakes into mini pumpkins by topping them with an orange coloured cream cheese icing…

To make the cream cheese icing you need…

450g icing sugar, sifted

75g butter, softened

200g cream cheese

Food colouring

Beat all of the icing ingredients together well and add as much or as little colour as you wish to get your desired effect. Then transfer the icing into an icing bag (I use disposable wonders, which are available in all good supermarkets) and using a large star shaped icing nozzle, swirl the icing onto the top of your cupcake. I finished my pumpkins off with a stalk made out of a chunk of dark chocolate.

And there you have them, the cutest little spiced pumpkin and chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing…

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