Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pumpkin-Brown Butter Cupcakes

I suppose it's not really the season for pumpkin, but I personally don't believe that pumpkin-flavored foods should only be consumed in October and November. Pumpkin is delicious (when combined with butter and sugar) and should be enjoyed the whole year through. So, Martha... bring on the pumpkin-brown butter cupcakes (this is not the exact recipe from the cookbook, but it's the closest thing Martha has on her website)!

What is pumpkin puree? Great question. I don't know either. I hit my first road block before I even really got started. While looking over the ingredients I saw pumpkin puree (not pie filling) listed. My first thought was crap... is pumpkin puree different from what I buy when I'm going to make a pumpkin pie? Where am I ever going to find that? I actually had a can of Libby's pumpkin on hand that was leftover from a pie I didn't make for Thanksgiving (oops) so I was excited that I wasn't going to have to buy it. But first I wanted to make sure it was what I needed. I did a little Google searching to ensure that what I had was not pie filling and in fact pumpkin puree. After some research I decided that what I had was what I needed and if it wasn't, oh well. The only ingredient I opted out of was fresh sage leaves, cut into chiffonade. I had no idea what that meant and Martha said it was optional (hooray!) so I opted out.

First thing to tackle was the brown butter that was going into the cupcake batter. I also made brown butter icing for the cupcakes, but we'll get to that later. I remember the last time I had to brown butter when I made icing for these cupcakes and I wasn't sure of what I was doing that time around. But now, after having made it once I was feeling confident that I would know what I was doing. I was wrong. I was still unsure of what I was doing and worried I was going to burn the butter. So I stared and swirled, and stared and swirled some more until I felt confident that the butter was sufficiently browned. While I was staring and swirling the browning butter I put together the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. After the browned butter had cooled I mixed it in with the wet ingredients and then mixed the wet and dry ingredients together.

The batter was tasty! For the first time during this little project of mine I haven't used cupcake liners. I instead buttered and floured the tins. I don't really like this method because it's much messier than using a paper liner, but I wanted the full pumpkin-brown butter cupcake experience. At first I thought I was going to be able to use my Pyrex measuring cup to fill the tins, but as I continued to mix in the dry ingredients I realized that dream wasn't going to come true. I broke out my trusty tablespoon and as always used about 1 1/2 scoops to fill the liners.

I baked these cupcakes a little longer than 20 minutes. I think I made them a little larger than I was supposed to so it took a couple extra minutes for them to be done. I would say each batch got about 22 minutes with a turn halfway through the baking time. Before I tried to remove the cupcakes from the pans I let them cool completely. In my experience if things are still warm, it's harder to remove them from the tins and they can often stick in the bottom. Since I only yielded 15 cupcakes from the whole batch, I didn't want to lose any in the process. Once they were cooled some cupcakes popped out right away, others were a little more difficult to remove. I used a knife to help get some out, for others I flipped the tins over and knocked on the bottom to pop them out. Worked like a charm.

I put the cupcakes in a tupperware overnight (not the Cadillac) and made the brown butter icing the following day. One reason was because I didn't have enough confectioner's sugar on hand (I know, major dropping of the ball by me), and I just didn't want to make any more of a mess since I had already finished washing one set of dishes. Sometimes I just don't have the energy to clean up all my messes and I didn't want to leave a mess overnight. I felt a little better about browning the butter this time since I had just done it for the cupcake batter. I would dare to say I am becoming a pro but we all know that's not true. This icing typically sets pretty fast so as soon as everything was combined I started dipping the tops of the cupcakes in it. It's a pretty easy method and I like how the finished product looks. I had a little icing left over, but not too much. I managed to hold myself back from scraping the bowl clean, but it was hard. It's really good. As were the finished cupcakes. I just had to keep reminding myself about the wedding dress I'll be wearing in about 6 months, and all the work I've put into shedding for the wedding up until this point. It's amazing what one single article of clothing can keep you from doing.