Pumpkin Cupcakes with Almond Buttercream Frosting

All year long, I look forward to pumpkin. It’s such a seasonal flavor that only seems fit for the fall season. I wait until October to start baking with pumpkin – just like I have to wait until the month of Halloween to watch horror movies excessively.

So, the Friday before Halloween becomes a crafty day of finishing my homemade Poison Ivy costume to accompany boyfriend Bane to a Hallowbash that night, while baking Homemade Pumpkin Cupcakes with Almond Buttercream Frosting to contribute to the party’s feast.

I clipped this recipe out of Better Homes & Gardens, where they were originally called Football Cakes. But because I’m going to a Halloween party, not a Super Bowl party, I’m ditching football from the title.

Pumpkin Cupcake Recipe
2 cups flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Stir together these dry ingredients in one bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine:
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Add flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, one-third at a time, stirring each time just until combined. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into paper-lined muffin tins. I baked these at 325 degrees for just shy of 15 minutes, but my oven tends to run hot. The original recipe called for 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Just check on them every 5 minutes or so until the toothpick test comes out clean.

Almond Buttercream Frosting
1/3 cup butter, softened
3 1/2 to 4 cups powered sugar
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp almond extract (the original recipe called for vanilla)

Beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add a couple cups of the powered sugar, beating well. Beat in milk and vanilla. Gradually, add in as much of the remaining powered sugar needed to reach desired consistency. Spread it on!

To turn seasonal fall pumpkin cupcakes into spooky Halloween cupcakes, specifically, I used matching black and orange bat liners and decorative picks that I found on clearance. These cupcakes don’t taste too pumpkin-y at all; it’s almost more like a spice cake.

Molasses Crinkles

For nine weeks of nothing but book writing, I had to ignore the urge to bake. People at work started to ask when the cookies were coming back. I finally had a free night, with Halloween just around the corner, and pumpkin cookies would be perfect.

Unfortunately, it’s one of those weeks where I’ve already been to the grocery store twice for necessities, and pumpkin must have slipped the mind. My favorite seasonal baking ingredient must wait. What’s just as autumnal for the mouth? Cloves, cinnamon and ginger. Therefore: Molasses Crinkles.

My recipe is the same as this one on AllRecipes.com:

Molasses Crinkles Cookie Recipe - Allrecipes_com

Into the pan goes 3/4 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 egg, 1/4 cup molasses. And then the flour…where’s the flour? There’s always extra in the fridge…there’s none in the fridge. How in the world did I, the baker, run out of flour without realizing it? Probably because I haven’t been able to bake for months.

So, a trip to the grocery story the next day after work. Flour and pumpkin both, and more brown sugar.

Back to the kitchen. Now, the 2 1/4 cup flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ginger.

These are the kind of cookies you roll into a ball and dip in sugar before baking (for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.) So you know they’re going to turn out nice and thick — hearty cookies you can sink your sweet tooth into.

And, with the spicy flavor, these were the perfect snack during the decoration of the Haunted Hall. Every year, several of us at the office help the nonprofit organization down the street put together its annual Halloween party for the disabled children it provides services for. The cookies were gone long before any of the kids arrived.