Recipe Tested: Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

The Premise

My in-house editor loves him some Pumpkin Pie. But I’ve never been a particular fan of it. And he’s one of those guys who feels guilty if he’s nomming on a yummy dessert all by himself. So I’m always on the look out for pumpkin desserts that I’ll like too to replace his pie. What seems to end up happening is I merely have a cache of pumpkin desserts to make in addition to the pies.

In any case, I saw this recipe a few months ago back when our air conditioning was out and we were sweltering here in the Midwest. So when the opportunity to cook for a group presented itself this weekend, and the high temperature was only supposed to get to 74F, I decided to pull this little baby out of the stack and try it.

The Findings

Wow. These cupcakes are good! But it’s not the cupcake that I adore, its that icing. I think lovers of spice cake and pumpkin bread would love the cupcakes themselves but I’m neither. However the sweet, sweet, yummy frosting with just the right amount of saltiness makes up for it.

How Hard Is This?

I had help making the cake but it was fairly easy. The recipe I used claimed it makes “~18 cupcakes”. We ended up with 24 and extra (enough to fill two large mugs halfway).

The icing was difficult for me. I won’t lie. I botched my first two batches of homemade caramel (yes, homemade!). The third batch was passable but not great. My guy declared that next time I made it, we’d be buying Smucker’s Caramel. (He’d claimed to have a 40 page how-to on how to create homemade caramel that included such things as needing to have the correct barometric readings for ideal caramel making.) I think if I’d had store bought caramel this would have been a simple process.

Getting Fancy

For this batch I decided I wanted to get a little fancy with my icing. I’d considered tossing it in a ziplock bag, cutting a hole and icing them that way but I’d seen the results of this at work and it had reminded me of dog poop! So I decided to check Teh Walmart for an icing kit. I bought this Wilton Decorator Plus kit because at $12.50 it was only a few dollars more than the package with three metal tips and 12 bags. I liked that this was reusable rather than having to buy bags every time I wanted to decorate something. It claims it will use those Wilton metal tips too but the five plastic tips that came in the box are plenty for me because I’m not heavy into decorating.

So I loaded up the tube with my icing and went to town. The only problem with doing it this way is that the icing goes fast (and a good-sized dollop is unusable inside the tip section). I probably needed a batch and a half to do all of the cupcakes I had. However a little of this frosting goes a long way because it’s very sweet.

What People Said!

The comments I got over and over about these was that “they were evil” or I was “evil evil” for making them. No one could eat just one. So be prepared to have some whining people if you run out 🙂

Get the recipe at Made in Melissa’s Kitchen.

October Update

So I made this recipe again two weekends ago. And this time without making caramel from scratch.
After looking at the ingredients and consistency of the caramel available to us at the store, AND noting they all said “caramel flavor” rather than caramel, I decided to use the bottle of Hershey caramel flavor topping I already had on hand (yes, the bottle one not the jar).
I started off with 1/4 cup then tasted to check. It needed more so I poured some extra directly in the bowl. I’d guess I used anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 a cup but you’ll want to stir and check for yourself. The consistency was a little bit different this way. I’d say it was actually firmer than the original batch. This is definitely the way to go in my mind. Far easier, less mess and it’s much harder to screw up the frosting.
Happy baking!

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