Spooky Pumpkin Cupcakes

Spooky Pumpkin Cupcakes

I love Halloween. I love that it’s becoming more popular over here (even if it is met with a bit of resentment over the over-commercialism) and that my kids now have this as an annual tradition.

I used to be the only crazy lady on the block who bothered to put a pumpkin out. It didn’t take the neighbourhood kids very long to realise that the Canadian at number 20 was giving out FREE CANDY. It also didn’t take them long to realise that the lady at number 20 was most certainly not giving out free candy to teenagers, let alone teenagers who didn’t bother to dress up.

Now, the entire neighbourhood takes part. Last year, a house on our road had a guy dressed up as Dracula in an upper bedroom window, waving at the kids. The kids were hysterical and I couldn’t stop laughing. It was just so brilliant to see the community taking part and chatting to passing friends and neighbours.

Our kids love dressing up and making decorations, and it’s a great excuse to make more things out of pumpkin puree. I found this pumpkin cupcake recipe in one of the millions of cookbooks I own (I really do have issues): http://www.marthastewart.com/317069/pumpkin-cupcakes For reasons only known to my brain, I decided to top them with meringue ghosts to make them “Halloweeny.” I probably saw it on television or something. At any rate, this recipe looks a little more complicated than it is. You can make the ghosts well in advance (you could do them today for the 31st, in fact) or leave them off completely if you’re not having a fit of insanity like me.

For the icing, just use your favourite recipe. I used a very soft cream cheese icing with a little orange food colouring chucked in, but use whatever you’d like.

Spooky Pumpkin Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • For the cupcakes:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • For the ghost meringues:
  • 4 large egg whites , at room temperature
  • 200g caster/fine sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and the allspice.

In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs until fluffy.

Add the dry ingredients and combine until smooth. Stir in the pumpkin puree.

Divide batter evenly amongst lined cupcake tins, filling each about halfway.

Bake until tops spring back when touched and a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean (about 20 to 25 minutes.)

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

For the Meringues:

Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.

Line two baking sheets with a on-stick liner or parchment paper.

Tip the 4 large egg whites into a large clean mixing bowl and beat on low speed until the whites begin to go bubbly and start to form soft peaks.

Switch to medium speed and beat until the egg whites are stiff.

Turn the speed up to high and add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time.

Continue beating for 3-4 seconds between each addition.

When all the sugar is added, the whites should be thick, stiff, and glossy.

Sift one third of the 115g icing sugar over the mixture, then gently fold it in with a big metal spoon or rubber spatula.

Continue to sift and fold in the remaining icing sugar a third at a time.

Put the meringue mixture into a piping bag fit with a large round nozzle, or put it in a large plastic bag and snip a hole in the corner (around the size of a dime.)

Hold the bag straight up and pipe the meringue to make a round body, lift a little, then make another round head shape and pull away slowly to make a ghost “curl”  on top.

It really doesn’t matter if they are perfect or not –  you’re just really aiming for white blobs that are vaguely snowman-shaped.

Put the meringues in the oven and immediately turn it down to 275F/140C.

Cook for around 30 minutes, turn the oven off, and leave the meringues in the oven until it is cold (about 4 hours.)

 

 

You can leave your ghosts as is, or you can draw faces on them with edible pen.

The meringues can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for a month.

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