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.