Baking Days: Super Bowl Cupcakes and Pumpkin Muffins

Strangely enough I did not bake during our snow day yesterday. My mom threw together brownies and my stepfather made odd-tasting sweet and sour meatballs, but I had no burning desire to make my own contribution. Whenever there’s leftover treats on the kitchen counter, like the brownies, I tend to hold off.

I also baked twice over the past few days. My best friend’s family throws a Super Bowl party every year, so I wanted to make cupcakes for the occasion. I’d like to clarify that I barely understand football – baseball and basketball, sure, but football remains a mysterious combination of “downs” and tackles. I go for the company and the traditional pizza during halftime. It’s a small party by their standards, more like a dozen of us sitting around my friend’s attic, but we have fun. After showing up for party after party over the years I’m more like the cousin who’s always around.

Anyway, this counts as the first time I’ve made cupcakes for an occasion. I wasn’t too nervous since these people are like family, but I still wanted them to be good. I also wanted to use peanut butter.

Now, my mom and her twin sister have a serious peanut butter aversion. They’re not even allergic but neither of them can stand the taste or the smell. This has come up often, because who can hate peanut butter? It’s like how my Italian aunt and cousin can’t stand garlic in their food. My cousin’s been known to tell restaurants she’s allergic just to make sure they don’t put it in.

Since my mom is typically one of four people eating the stuff I make, I’ve steered clear of peanut butter as an ingredient. But these cupcakes were going out of the house. Let the peanut butter fest begin!

I chose Peanut Butter Cupcakes from the cupcake book I got for Christmas. They turned out…okay. Of course my friends said they were delicious but I have my doubts.

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I added an extra quarter-cup of peanut butter just to make sure you got the flavor. The book said to decrease the amount of butter and add peanut butter to their standard yellow cake recipe. Logically, I decreased the butter a little more to make up for my twist. The cupcakes tasted a little dry to me but were okay with store-bought chocolate frosting. Peanut butter is drying on its own, right?  I also think I overmixed them since I’m still adjusting to my grandmother’s stand mixer.

So at the Super Bowl party, my friend brought over a bunch of extra non-perishables she had. She gave me some organic pumpkin since she figured I could bake with it. One of the containers was a box that had a recipe for Pumpkin Muffins on the back. My mom saw this and commissioned me to make them using the spice cake mix she had in a cabinet. All it required was the pumpkin, a package of spice cake mix, an egg, and a cup of chocolate chips.

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Same thing, they were okay. I’m not a fan of spice cake. Still we liked them enough to have them for breakfast or a snack. My mom and I brought some to her aunt and uncle’s house when we went over for tea during the week. I recommend using mini-chocolate chips since the muffins are so small.

Better luck next time! I’ll probably bake more than once next week since my knee surgery is Friday the 17th. After that I won’t be able to get around as much for at least a month. I was nervous as hell last time – which you can read about in my old posts – but now I’m just eager to get it over with already. I know exactly what to expect, and my quad muscles are stronger, so recovery should be much shorter.

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Baking Day 3: Easy as Pumpkin Pie

I made these cupcakes last Thursday, but since I’m an expert procrastinator, I’m only getting around to this post now. Tomorrow’s “Baking Day #4” so I’d better write up #3 first.

This Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcake recipe won me over last week. I’m picky about selecting recipes since I’m well aware of my beginner status. First I make sure there aren’t too many ingredients, and that they’re all “normal” versions (like all-purpose flour instead of cake flour). Then I scan the directions so I know they’re quick/easy and don’t require equipment I don’t have (like a stand mixer). Given these requirements and my own taste preferences, it can take a while before I stumble across a winner. I went with this particular Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcake recipe because there’s only eight ingredients, and all I had to do was dump everything in a bowl.

I also chose the recipe because it’s fall and I wanted baked goods with pumpkin in them. Pumpkin Spice Latte flavoring was a natural leap from there. (Oddly enough, while I love both pumpkin and coffee, I am not a fan of the average PSL.)

Everything went smooth for the most part, though as usual, I can never follow all directions. The recipe says to brush the coffee on the cupcakes after they’ve cooled. This didn’t fit one of my aforementioned requirements because I don’t have a pastry brush. I made an exception though and added the coffee into the batter. I figured it’s better that way since if I did try to brush the coffee on, some cupcakes would be overflowing and some wouldn’t have any.

Here’s how they turned out. I loved the batter’s orange color:

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(Yes, courtesy of Instagram’s layout app. Formatting images on WordPress is annoying.)

These weren’t so successful. They tasted good as pumpkin cupcakes, and actually reminded me of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Loaf. The other two “spice” and “latte” flavors didn’t quite make it through. There was some spice, but I couldn’t detect any coffee at all. I blame myself for this since I strayed from the recipe on both counts. For one, the leftover pumpkin pie spice container in my cabinet didn’t have exactly what the recipe called for. And I’m sure the coffee flavor would be more prominent if I’d brushed the tops with it as instructed. Maybe next time I’ll add 2/3 cup of coffee to the batter instead.

They’re darn good pumpkin cupcakes though.

Continuing my coffee theme, I’m making mocha brownies tomorrow. To be continued!