Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pumpkin Cupcakes and a bit about honey

So what I have I done with all that pumpkin? My friend Diana's birthday was last week, and since I hadn't seen her several MONTHS, I wanted to do something extra-nice and decided to make cupcakes for her party. I thought my cupcakes would be THE birthday cake, but actually another guest made an awesome cake - a vanilla layer topped with chocolate cake cut into letters that spelled out Diana's name - how could anyone top that? So my little cakes were woefully upstaged but still all gone by the end of the night nonetheless.

I figured my bourbon cream cheese icing recipe would be the perfect accompaniment to pumpkin, but upon tasting, I decided the icing needed some more sweetness and added a tablespoon or so of maple syrup, which was perfect. I think these cupcakes could also serve as light little muffins, if you added in some chopped nuts or chocolate chips and forgot about icing. Ignore the dark cupcake edges in the photo - I accidentally left these in the oven too long.

Also, you may notice a pattern in my recipes by now. I always cut back the sugar and replace a portion of it with honey. I do this because honey is a local, natural, less-processed alternative to sugar. In addition to containing vitamins and minerals, honey has a lower glycemic index than sugar, so it is absorbed more slowly and healthfully. I also appreciate that I can get my honey from local farmers at the Greenmarket, unlike sugar, which is grown far, far away. However, I don't completely replace sugar with honey because most honeys have a strong flavor that can overwhelm baked goods. One of these days I'll give it a try and see what happens, though. Who knows, I might be pleasantly surprised!

Some notes about baking with honey: Because of its strong sweet taste, you can use less of it than you would sugar. It's not a 1:1 substution but more like 1/3 cup honey for every 1/2 cup sugar. In addition, because it's liquid, you can cut back slightly on the other liquid ingredients in a recipe. In this case, the honey helps make up for the fact that I cut the butter down to 6 tbsp from a full stick, or 8 tbsp.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
bourbon cream cheese icing recipe, halved, with addition of 1 tbsp of maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350. Grease two muffin tins*. Cream butter and sugar. Whisk in honey, then eggs, vanilla, pumpkin puree, and finally milk. Dump in flour and spices and beat until batter is combined and smooth. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes until toothpick or fork inserted comes out clean. Let cool (in fridge or freezer if you need to save time!) before icing. Makes about 20 cupcakes.

*Or should they be called "cupcake" tins if you are making cupcakes? Why don't these things have a universal name?


  1. yum! I have also replaced honey for sugar... but never that thoughtfully (i'm a little chaotic when it comes to baking).

    Thanks for the wonderful tips!

  2. oh. my. gosh.

    those cupcakes look delicious!!!

  3. Those cupcakes look GOOD. I'm salivating a little, on this side of the screen!

    I sometimes replace some sugar with maple syrup or molasses. I wish you could get local sugar or molasses! It does make me wince to think about the unpleasant journey these foods make to us.