I have been on a cooking spree lately. I've made this absolutely insane chicken chili verde (with green chiles and tomatillos, cilantro and white beans....so good!) this unbelievable butternut squash soup--there was truffle oil involved--and, due to the many fall birthdays of people I work with/call friends (ahem, including mine on Monday!!, ahem), an awful lot of cupcakes.
Now, I'm terrible with recipes--I play and adapt and tweak, but for the pumpkin cupcakes with pumpkin buttercream frosting (the orange ones in the pics), I followed the recipe (for the cake, at least) pretty closely.
I made it for cupcakes, obviously; I added more coconut because the bag was almost empty and it seemed like a waste; I added extra pumpkin because I detest dry baked goods; I nixed the currants. Overall, delicious. For the frosting I just added a TON of pumpkin to my favorite buttercream recipe and it tasted like pumpkin pie. On top of pumpkin cake. It was pumpin' out pumpkin.
I also had left over apples from apple picking, so I decided to make this recipe for apple cake. I used twice as many apples; vanilla extract instead of Calvados (because who has apple brandy kickin' around?) and a bunch more cinnamon. Like three times as much, I think. Then I used the same super sekrit buttercream recipe, and I made these wreaths on top of the cupcake, leaving a hole in the center--to be filled with what was my BEST CARAMEL EVER.
Yes, I make my own caramel. It's a new development, and a work in progress, but I'm happy to say I'm no longer scared of it, which I think is the key. I think I actually shrieked a few times the first time I made caramel. Basically, you put sugar and water in a 2-1 ratio in a pan, add a big dollop of light corn syrup (which prevents the caramel from going grainy afterward), and stir with a WOODEN spoon until the sugar is dissolved.
Let it boil away happily on high heat until the color gets to be just golden. Then toss in as much cream as you did sugar (so if you put in 1 cup sugar, you'd need a 1/2 cup of water and 1 cup of cream) and a splash of vanilla and a few tabs of butter, and then BACK THE HELL AWAY. This is the scary part because the whole thing becomes an evil, hissing, globby mess and it looks totally ruined--BUT IT ISN'T! Wait for the hissing to stop, stir until everything melts back down, and take it off the heat. Then toss in another splash of cream, a tab of butter and a sprinkle of salt, and voila, you're super impressive.
Oh, and FYI, the pumpkin cake is DELICIOUS all by its self, and it's not even that bad for you at all. Muffins!