Yesterday’s Saturday afternoon baking project afforded me the opportunity to do two things I’ve never attempted in the the kitchen before, and I can assure you it wasn’t “clean as you go” or “don’t drink and bake”…because we all know those two things are NEVER going to happen!
For one, I finally used a fresh pumpkin to bake. No canned pumpkin anymore, unless they are out of season and it’s purely an emergency. And two, I used a vanilla bean to flavor my swiss meringue buttercream and cupcakes. I’m not sure why I’ve waited so long to do this. It really brought the flavors of the cupcake and SMB (I’m too lazy to type swiss meringue buttercream) to life.
An added bonus to the whole baking experience was my stand mixer was back in business. It’s been out of commission because of a damaged worm gear. Luckily, I saved a video that I came across some time back on the number one problem that occurs with KitchenAid Stand Mixers. My boyfriend watched the video, found the problem, and ordered the gear. I’m pretty sure he was impressed that I even knew what a worm gear was, or what the problem might be.
Back to the cupcakes. These cupcakes could possibly be the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. They will surely become a seasonal favorite around this household. I’m not sure which was the star of this cupcake. The cinnamon vanilla bean SMB or the pumpkin vanilla bean infused cupcake. All I know, is when I bit into one for the first time, it was Heaven on Earth! The flavors were a marriage made in heaven. In one word…INSANE.
- IMPORTANT ITEMS YOU WILL NEED
- Candy thermometer
- large stock pot with lid for steaming pumpkin
- Stand Mixer (or heavy duty hand mixer)
- One small Baking/Sugar Pumpkin
- Heavy duty knife
- SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
- 5 egg whites (or ¾ C + 3 tablespoons organic pasteurized egg whites)
- 1¼ cup Sugar
- 1½ cup unsalted butter cold, cubed (I use grassfed Kerrygold Pure Irish butter)
- 1 vanilla bean- scraped
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 1 Cup sugar
- 1 Cup + 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1 Cup warm milk
- ½ Cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons miracle whip light (*optional)
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 Vanilla bean- scraped
- Please refer to blog tutorial.
Let’s start with the baking pumpkin shall we? This is probably something you can do ahead of time or the night before, as it can be refrigerated and quickly added to the recipe. You’ll need a sharp heavy duty knife and a steady hand. Place 1′ of water in a large stock pot, cover with lid, and put on stove over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
Wash and dry your pumpkin. This is so you don’t contaminate the inside when you cut into it. In the photo you will see I used two, but I had more than enough left over from one. With it being my first time, I had no idea how much it would yield. Baking or Sugar pumpkins- are simply smaller pumpkins which have a firm sweet flesh. They are much better for baking or using in soups.
Slice your pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. So nothing goes to waste, bake the seeds if you want. Cut off the stems and slice your pumpkin into quarters. Make sure all the pieces are approximately the same size. Place in pot, replace lid and steam for about 25 minutes or until the skin easily pulls away. You don’t want any firmness of the flesh left.
Once steamed strain and cool, use a large spoon and scoop pumpkin into a bowl. It should easily pull away from the skin. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Put aside or place in plastic container in refrigerator if preparing ahead of time.
Time for my favorite part. The Cinnamon Vanilla Bean SMB. I can barely stand it! ( a quick tutorial on how to cut a vanilla bean… cut off both ends of the bean, cut bean in half, slice bean carefully down the center, spread open and scrape with a knife or spoon.)
This part is a bit labor intensive the first time you try it, but I promise you, it is worth every step. I will direct you over to where I learned how to make a delicious swiss meringue buttercream. I cut the recipe in half because my cupcake recipe yields one dozen.
Once you have your basic SMB mixed and fluffed back up, add your flavors. Which in this case are cinnamon and vanilla. Incorporate well on low. Scoop into plastic container, cover and set aside or place in fridge. Make sure it’s somewhat cool when you pipe it. I usually give mine a fluff up once more on low speed with the paddle attachment in the stand mixer just before piping onto cupcakes.
Time for the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together your butter and sugar on low speed with the paddle attachment. This might take up to 5 minutes. Then add all your dry ingredients.( *Make sure you don’t add your pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg just yet.*) Add vanilla bean seeds, egg, and milk. Mix on low until well incorporated.
Scoop out about 1/3 of batter into glass and set aside. Now add pumpkin puree to remaining batter along with pumpkin pie spice and nutmeg. Incorporate on low speed.
Place your cupcake liners in cupcake tin and fill the bottom about 1/3 full with pumpkin batter. I used a small melon baller and then placed a scoop of vanilla bean batter in the middle. Next, top off with another scoop of pumpkin batter. Don’t fill more than 2/3 full.
Place in oven on middle rack at 350 degrees and bake approximately 20-25 minutes or until cupcake springs back. Cool cupcakes and when ready pipe on SMB. I used a large French Tip from Bake It Pretty. Begin on the outside of the cupcake and swirl towards the middle.
What’s that you ask? You want to see what it looks like in inside?
The great thing about not so perfect cupcakes, is you can hide imperfections with frosting ;). The reason for the crater is not so I can add more delicious SMB on top, as much as I would LOVE that. No. I took these out of the oven too soon and they sunk. Clearly, a sign they were not done baking.
However, they were very moist. I think you can see just how moist they are. More importantly, they were a burst of spices in your mouth. If you also look closer, you can see the fusion of the pumpkin and vanilla. I love how you can see the cinnamon and vanilla seed specs as well.
*Deep breath* Annnnywho, I’m throwing this shot in just because I love the mini sugar pumpkin squash. How cute are these?
This is a fusion of fall flavors that will warm your tastebuds and soul.