Sunday, November 15, 2015

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

Cupcakes with icing   

When I was seven, I received a copy of Cricket’s Cookery from my Uncle Matthew. Inside the front cover, he penned the following directive in a curly-cued script:

“To Susan, help your Momie in need. Here is a good cookbook for you. Hope you will make some of the recipes.

Christmas 1977”

Measure and mix together wet and dry ingredients

Cricket's Cookery turned out to be the perfect gift for me - a child who was enthralled by her mom's sorcery in the kitchen and eager to enter its culinary fold. At a half inch thick, it was easier to hold than the culinary tomes that anchored our book shelf. Inside it offered recipes for Roly-Poly Pancakes, Mighty Meatballs, Yum-Yum Stew, and other inviting dishes. 

Cool baked cupcakes

The instructions for many of the recipes were meant to be sung out loud, which was a bonus for a child apt to break into song. The underlying message being that cooking could be loads of fun. 

The Rainy Day Popcorn, for example, was to be prepared “…to the tune of Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” 

Its instructions began like this:

“Put oil and corn into the pot.
Cover pot and heat till hot.
With a Pop! Pop! here and a Pop! Pop! there.
Here a Pop! There a Pop! Everywhere a Pop! Pop!”

Whip together frosting_edited-1

With my mom's help, I baked through all of the desserts, including Oh, My Darling Sugar Cookies, Sugar Crumb Pies, and Apple Doodle, greasing pans and whipping butter along the way. I cracked open eggs, occasionally fishing out fragments of eggshells from waves of fluffy batter.

Over time, I became the baker in the family, freeing my mom to rely on palm fulls and pinches instead of carefully measured ingredients. 

Garnish with candied pumpkin seeds

I have rolled out thousands of cookies and baked hundreds of cakes since unwrapping Cricket's Cookery's under a tinsel-laden tree. Its cover is bandaged with scotch tape and the back pages have buckled from being doused with water. As haggard as it may be, the book continues to be one of my most treasured culinary companions.


Makes 12

If you're looking for a delicious holiday dessert, try making these moist, perfectly spiced little cakes! This recipe calls for many of the techniques I learned cooking from Cricket's Cookery. Trader Joe’s carries candied pumpkin seeds, which add a lovely bit of crunch. If you can't track them down, use salted pumpkin seeds instead. 


2 eggs
3/4 cup sunflower oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup butter
4 ounces cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
Candied pumpkin seeds


Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the eggs, oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and pumpkin puree in a medium bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined. 

Place the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves in a medium bowl.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. 

Fill 12 cupcake liners 3/4 way full. 

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely. 

Place 1 teaspoon vanilla, butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar in a standing mixer and beat until fluffy. 

Frost cupcakes and top with candied pumpkin seeds.
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