Monday, November 19, 2012

pumpkin cupcakes with brown butter icing and candied walnuts

this past weekend was the fourth meeting of our girls book club. carly hosted an amazing brunch at her place; there were breakfast quesadillas, almond flour waffles with cinnamon apple slices, bacon and egg bundles, LOTS of cheese, bread, and crackers (courtesy of jade and steph), and a super boozy apple cider. 

to round out the menu, i decided to bring some speculoos macarons and seasonal cupcakes :) pumpkin, brown butter, walnuts. mmm mmm, hello, fall!

:: pumpkin cupcakes with brown butter icing and candied walnuts ::
(recipe from shutterbean)

for the cake:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (i used cardamom instead)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup warm milk

1. heat the oven to 350F. butter a 9 x 2 inch round cake pan. line pan with parchment, and butter the parchment. coat pan with flour, and tap out any excess. (i used a muffin pan to make one dozen cupcakes and lined them with cupcake liners, no butter or flour. also had enough batter for a mini 6-inch cake but ran out of icing :P)
2. in a large bowl, sift flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
3. in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. add eggs, and beat until combined. add pumpkin puree and milk; beat until combined. add reserved flour mixture; beat on low until just combined.
4. pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 55 minutes (20 minutes for cupcakes). transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool. let cake rest 20 minutes.
5. unmold cake. using an offset spatula, spread icing over top of cake, and decorate with caramelized walnut halves.

for the icing:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

1. in a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat until nut-brown in color, about 10 minutes. remove pan from heat, and pour butter into a bowl, leaving any burned sediment behind.
2. add sugar, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon milk; stir until smooth. if the icing is too thick, add the remaining tablespoon milk, a little at a time, until consistency is spreadable. let cool 5 minutes. use immediately.

for the walnuts:
1/2 cup sugar
10 well-shaped, large walnut halves

1. in a small skillet, melt sugar over medium-high heat until medium golden, about 3 minutes. remove skillet from heat. working quickly, drop walnut halves, one at a time, into the melted sugar. if the sugar hardens, return skillet to low heat, and stir several minutes. using a fork, turn walnuts until they are evenly coated. (work FAST; the sugar hardens and gets really tricky to work with.) transfer walnuts to a wire rack to cool completely. use to decorate cake.

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