The Perfect Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes!!

Take one bubbling cauldron, chocolate as dark as the night and a spoonful of freakishly good frosting. Stir and smile and make a wish for perfect pumpkin patch cupcakes.

Halloween baking is always a favourite in our house. With a wooden spoon we mix our potions. Pecans and pumpkin purée, maple syrup, chocolate upon chocolate and just the right amount of spooky.

One particularly moreish little monster recipe is for my dark chocolate cupcakes with ‘pumpkin’ frosting. Displayed together they look just like a little pumpkin patch. Even better, they taste scrumptious and are great to make with children.

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Ingredients (makes 12 muffin sized cupcakes)

100g dark chocolate. Try to aim for 70% cocoa or above for a rich flavour.
200g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
3 medium (free range!) eggs
1/2tsp baking powder
175g plain flour
25g cocoa powder (Bourneville or similar.)
100g chocolate chips, dark or milk.

For the frosting
50g unsalted butter
200g cream cheese
700g icing sugar
1/2tsp orange gel food colouring
Orange edible glitter
Green sweetie pencils

Preheat your oven to 200/180 fan or gas mark 6. Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with brown or black cupcake cases. Muffin-sized.

Break the dark chocolate into a heatproof bowl with the butter and melt over a pan of simmering water until completely melted. Allow to cool slightly for a couple of minutes.

Stir in the caster sugar, mixing well. Then add the eggs mixing them in one at a time. This will make a smooth batter.

Add the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and mix until smooth. Then gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon evenly between the cupcake cases and bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes. The sponges should be springy and bounce back when baked. A skewer would come out clean from the centre. Leave the cupcakes to cool completely before decorating.

Frosting.
Now, I like to get my frosting ready at this point (mainly so I can have a cheeky lick of the spoon!) So you are going to need 50g of unsalted butter and 200g of cream cheese. Mix these slightly to soften before adding 700g of icing sugar, mixing well. The frosting needs to be quite thick to hold its shape, but not too thick that you can’t pipe it. If it seems too runny, just keep adding some more icing sugar in small amounts until you reach the right consistency. Finally add your orange gel colouring. This is a concentrated colouring and can be found in most supermarkets or cake supply shops. Try not to use the watery colouring as it won’t give a vibrant finish and it will soften your frosting.

Decorating.
Spoon your pumpkin-tasted orange frosting into your piping back, fitted with an inch round nozzle, or simple cut the end of the bag to this size and shape. Pipe a thick swirl from the outside inwards on top of each cake. Don’t worry about making it look good, because things are about to get squishy! Empty the orange sprinkles onto a flat plate evenly, then take an iced cupcake, tip it upside down and press gently onto the sprinkles. Abracadabra! Little orange rounds. Snip your green sweetie sticks into 2cm pieces and push one into the top of each pumpkin to finish.

A quirky way to display these is on a wooden board, or even better in a wooden crate with dried Autumn leaves for your very own pumpkin patch.

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Sophie Johnson, 28, Proud mummy of Bea, 4, Expert Baker, loves all things cake, UKE’s resident baker.

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