I don't mind one bit.
My husband on the other hand, is already sick of pumpkin - and we haven't even reached November! Thankfully, I found a recipe where I could sneak pumpkin in a recipe with one of his all-time favorites: Cheesecake. Win win for all, I must say.
I made these little guys last night, and frosted them this morning. The cupcake itself is ridiculous. The pumpkin pie flavors with an extra dose of cheesecake cream? Holy smokes. However, the frosting needed some love. The original frosting recipe called for way too much butter, so I had to make some serious modifications. I know, I know - it's buttercream, but 1.5 cups of butter seemed like overkill.
Other than that, these cupcakes were heaven. Last night was a late night again for Ryan (studying at the law school). I put the Manchild to bed, turned up The Civil Wars, and threw these in the oven. The comforting smell of pumpkin + cheesecake was more than enough to open the flood gates of memory. I can't wait for Fall to progress, and the leaves to cover the ground once again.
Growing up, my dear friend Elaine had giant trees in her backyard. The tree's thick branches were covered with an overwhelming plethora of huge leaves. I'm talkin' face-sized (or perhaps they seemed that way to our little noggins). In our elementary school years in Autumn, those leaves would fall to the ground, covering the backyard. You couldn't see a single patch of grass; creating a wonderland of color. Her Mom (one of the nicest ladies I've ever met) handed us the rakes and sent us into battle. We'd anxiously pile up as many leaves as we could, only to dive-bomb through them moments later.
Press repeat for hours and hours on that one.
With our front yard trees barely starting to change color with the season, I can't wait to press play again.
Cheesecake-Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting
8oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 C powdered sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 C flour
2 t pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 C canned pumpkin puree
1 C granulated sugar
1/2 C vegetable oil
1 C light brown sugar
4 large egg whites
1/4 t salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces and chilled
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
2 C powdered sugar
splash of milk (optional)
black crystal sprinkles (optional)
1. To make cupcakes: Place rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with baking liners (I ended up using another 6-cup muffin tin in addition to the 12-cup muffin pan).
2. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar for 3 minutes. Beat in 2 egg white and 1/2 t vanilla.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, 2 eggs, granulated sugar, oil, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Whisk in the flour mixture.
4. Layer each muffin cup with a little pumpkin batter, then the cream cheese mixture, then more of the batter. Bake until springy to the touch, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
5. To make frosting: Using an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar, 4 egg whites, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
6. Fill a medium saucepan with about 1 inch water. Bring to a boil. Place the mixing bowl on top of hot water. Whisk the mixture until it registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
7. Transfer the bowl back to the mixer, and beat at high speed until fluffy. Lower speed and beat to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, then beat at high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and almond extract.
8. Slowly add in powdered sugar until you reach a desired consistency. If still too buttery, add more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add a splash of milk.
9. Pipe frosting with large star tip onto cupcakes. Dump sprinkles into a shallow bowl. Lightly dip cupcakes into sprinkles (careful not to press too hard).
Recipe adapted from: Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine, November 2009 Issue