Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes & Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting

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“Pumpkin spice and everything nice”

Hello all! Hope you’ve been enjoying your Fall time. Here is another Fall recipe before all the Winter-y holiday baking fun ensues. If your family is not a fan of pumpkin pie, but you still want some sweet pumpkin at your Thanksgiving dessert table, try these cute mini pumpkin cupcakes, topped with a delicious pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting! They’re so small and fluffy – they go fast – so you might need to make extra!

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Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes

2.5 cups  flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
 pinch of salt
1 and 1/4 cups white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup champagne
3/4 cup buttercream
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place cupcake liners in pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine vegetable oil, champagne, pumpkin puree, buttermilk, and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients. In 4 parts, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing in between.  Now pour the batter into the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake 10-14 mins (depending on your oven), or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
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Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes
8 oz. cream cheese, cold
 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 tbsp. pumpkin puree
4.5 cups powdered sugar ( depending on desired frosting consistency)
Place butter in stand mixer and beat until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin puree, and powdered sugar and blend until combined. Add more sugar for a stiffer frosting. Mine was still pretty soft, but stiff enough to pipe. It hardened a bit after setting in the refrigerator for an hour, which made it easy to serve.
Enjoy!
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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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“I never met a pumpkin I didn’t like”…to bake with.

For all you Fall lovers – this is for you! What could be better than combining a classic chocolate chip cookie with Fall’s best accessory – pumpkins?! These cookies are soft and chewy and everything you’ve been waiting for!

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Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cloves

1 cup butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

7 tbsp canned pumpkin

2 cups chocolate chips

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Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Meanwhile, in the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together butter and granulated sugar until well combined. Add in brown sugar and mix. Next add in eggs and vanilla while mixing. Lastly, mix in the pumpkin. Now add your dry ingredients into your stand mixer in 4 parts, mixing just enough to combine. Toss in the chocolate chips and mix until evenly distributed. Place your cookie dough in the fridge for 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F. Remove dough from refrigerator and place onto parchment paper lined baking sheets using tablespoons. Flatten a bit. Make sure to leave enough space for the cookies to spread. Bake for 15-17 minutes total. I baked at 375F for the first half of the time, then finished baking at 350F. Cookies are done when edges are golden brown.

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Tiramisu and Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake

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“Happiness is knowing there is cake in the oven”

Who likes tiramisu? Mascarpone frosting? Chocolate Mousse? Chocolate Ganache?? If you like at least one, or all of these – you will love this cake! This is a little 6-inch cake, perfect for your little birthday needs.

Tiramisu Cake (2 6-inch cakes)

4 eggs, separated

1/2 cup +2tbsp sugar

1/4 cup espresso

2/3  cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks with electric mixer and half of the sugar. When frothy, add in 1/4 cup of cooled espresso. Continue mixing until it thickens and color becomes off-white. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites until frothy and then add in  the rest of the sugar. Beat until you get stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the yolks. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Sift dry ingredients into the egg mixture until you do not see any loose flour. Do not over mix. Spoon batter into two well-buttered baking pans and bake at 350F for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven – cakes should spring back when touched (this is a sponge cake). Let cool completely.

Mascarpone Frosting

8 oz mascarpone cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp Kahlua

2-3 tbsp. heavy cream

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine cheese and powdered sugar until thickened, add vanilla, Kahlua, and heavy cream and mix well. Refrigerate frosting until ready to use.

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Chocolate Mousse

1.5 tbsp water

1.5 tbsp sugar

1.5 egg yolks

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Combine water and sugar in saucepan over medium heat until boils and becomes a bit thicker. Remove from stove and turn off heat. Meanwhile, beat egg yolks in a large bowl until frothy and then add in the sugar mixture while whisking. In a separate bowl, microwave the chocolate until it melts, in about 30 second intervals. Combine the slightly cooled chocolate with the egg-sugar-water mixture. In a stand mixer beat the cream to soft peaks. Fold this into the chocolate-egg mixture.

Chocolate Ganache (make after cake is assembled)

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

Heat cream on stove until it starts to just bubble a bit. Turn off the heat and remove from the stove, pour over the chocolate in a separate bowl. Mix until combined and smooth.

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Assembly

Place 1 tiramisu cake into a 6-inch springform pan, and line the sides of the pan with an acetate cake collar. Spread the chocolate mousse out evenly over the tiramisu cake layer in your cake pan and refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Remove from refrigerator and remove side of cake pan as well as acetate collar. Spread a thin layer of mascarpone frosting over the mousse layer, and then top with second tiramisu cake layer. Now frost whole cake with mascarpone frosting (this is thinner than a buttercream frosting, and the cake will appear somewhat “naked” frosted, but you will still have the great mascarpone taste – don’t worry!) Now make the chocolate ganache and let it cool a bit. Pour over the cake evenly with a spoon, and top with desired fruits/meringues/berries. Enjoy!

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Key Lime Pie

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“Pie makes everybody happy”

Squeezing the last bits of summer out with this key lime pie – kinda literally. The only key limes I could find were so tiny I had to squeeze a ton of them to get my key lime juice! But it was totally worth it! This pie is perfect part tart and sweet – you won’t regret making it this weekend!

Crust

2.5 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350F. Chop graham crackers in food processor until you get smooth crumbs. Add the brown sugar and continue to process for about 30 seconds, or until the mixture is smooth. Pour this mix into a large bowl and add melted butter and mix. Use a spoon to press this crust into a 9-9.5 inch pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Meanwhile, make filling.

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Key Lime Filling

8-10 key limes (depending on size)

1/3 cup Key lime juice

3 large egg yolks

14 oz sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Zest limes in one bowl, and then squeeze zested limes to collect juice in a separate bowl. Set aside. Beat egg yolks in your stand mixer until the yolks become thickened and pale. Mix zest in, then add in the condensed milk and beat for a couple minutes. Now mix in the juice for another minute.

Pour filling into the cooled crust. Bake pie for about 15 minutes –  do not let the top brown! Let cool completely to room temperature before topping with meringue and little lime slices.

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Meringue topping

3 egg whites

3/4 cup granulated sugar

¼ tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Place a large metal bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water. In the bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Transfer this to your stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment to firm peaks. Add vanilla and beat to stiff peaks. Pipe the meringue onto your cooled pie. Next use a kitchen torch to brown the tips a bit. Make sure to always hold the torch at a safe distance and turn it off when you’re all done. (Follow the directions that come with your torch.) Top your finished pie with some zest.

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Cherry Clafoutis

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“Life is just a bowl of cherries”

Time for a yummy cherry-centric dessert. Imagine a bunch of cherries piled into a dish, then covered with batter and dusted with sugar – and voila! You have cherry clafoutis! An easy dessert for a nice warm day.

Cherry Clafoutis

2 cups of cherries, pitted

3/4 cup flour

1 cup of milk

4 eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

Powdered sugar for dusting

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Preheat oven to 350F. Butter or spray with non-stick spray a baking pan or pie pan. Place the cherries into the pan. In a stand mixer, combine the milk, eggs, and sugar. Next mix in the almond and vanilla extracts and salt. Add in the flour and stir. Pour this over the cherries and place in oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Once cooled, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

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Banana + Strawberry Bread

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“As long as you know how to bake…life is sure to be sweet!”

Here’s a little bit of a twist on classic banana nut bread. It’s summer so we’re lucky to have lots of strawberries! Why not add them to the banana bread and make your sweet treat a little sweeter?! This banana strawberry bread is super moist and the perfect breakfast treat or easy dessert.

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Banana + Strawberry bread

4 bananas

5 large strawberries

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup butter

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

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Preheat oven to 350 F. Mash the bananas in a bowl and set aside. Dice up the strawberries into little squares.  Melt the butter in the microwave. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Combine the bananas, melted butter, whisked egg, and vanilla – mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until just combined, then mix in the strawberries.

Butter your loaf pan and pour the batter in. Slice the last banana lengthwise and lay both sides on top of the batter. Sprinkle the banana with a little extra sugar. Place in the oven for 60-70 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Mini Pavlovas with Blackberry Sauce

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“Too much of a good thing is wonderful” …. hmmm… like dessert!

Yay for easy summer desserts! And these are naturally gluten free! These desserts are great because you can make most of it a day ahead – so they are perfect for your summer soirées – when you have too much to prepare and not enough time.

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Mini Pavlovas

4 egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 225F.

For the next part you can use a double boiler or a large metal bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water. In the bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk until the sugar dissolves.

Next transfer this to your stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment until frothy. Add vanilla. Beat to stiff peaks. Use a large round tip to pipe out a tiny bit of the meringue under each corner of the parchment paper to keep it form moving while you pipe the pavlovas. Pipe out the meringue in 6 circles on each baking sheet, leaving space in between them. It’s ok if your circles aren’t perfectly neat. Alternatively, if you like the more rustic look (as I did in this case), use large spoons to dollop out semi-round pavlovas. Use the back of one spoon to create a nest at the top of each pavlova – where you will place your filling.

Bake for about 1 hour – or until pavlovas are dry to your touch. (Do not open the oven until the hour is up).Once they are done, turn off the oven and leave the oven door slightly open for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.

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Whipped cream topping

 1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tbsp. sugar (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat heavy cream in your stand mixer with whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add vanilla. You can also add sugar if you prefer a sweeter cream. Beat until stiff peaks form.

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Blackberry sauce

2 boxes of fresh blackberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/8 cup water

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Lower to simmer and allow to cook for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain the sauce. Let cool. Save some of the whole cooked blackberries to add to your pavlovas as well.

Assembly

Pavlovas

whipped cream

blackberry sauce

fresh berries

mint leaves (optional)

Chopped pistachios (optional)

Lemon zest (optional)

Remove Pavlovas from parchment paper and place on plates you would like to serve them on. Fill nests with dollops of the whipped cream. Add some of the cooked blackberries and fresh berries on top of the cream, as well as pistachios. Pour on the blackberry sauce. Top with mint leaves and lemon zest. Ready to serve!

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