Oh yes, another pumpkin recipe! This time, it’s for Cupcake Hero. As soon as I saw that this month’s ingredient was pumpkin I knew I had to participate and came up with this idea really quickly. Honestly, I had a candied pecan craving and was just looking for an excuse to make them.

The cake part of the cupcake is a soft, spicy pumpkin cake. The frosting, oh the frosting, I sent out an “OMG, I need help!” email to Pam because I wanted a light frosting that would still hold it’s shape and she came through as usual. It’s a whipped cream cheese frosting that’s made the same way as regular cream cheese frosting but then has whipped cream folded in. It’s heavenly, ya’ll. The caramel sauce is just your basic sauce. And the nuts! I made them awhile back with my bourbon banana pudding and they are seriously delicious and so easy! I doubled the batch so I could snack on some. ;)

Forgive me for all these recipes, but trust me, they’re worth it.

Pumpkin Turtle Cupcakes
cupcakes from Martha Stewart
For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
For the whipped cream cheese frosting:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
For the caramel sauce:
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
For the candied pecans:
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon water
  • 3/4 cup pecan halves
To make the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 cupcake cups with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.
  3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.
To make the whipped cream cheese frosting:
  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar salt and vanilla until smooth. In a small bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cream cheese mixture.
To make the caramel sauce:
  1. Heat sugar on moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart or 3-quart saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. You can swirl the pan a bit if you want, from this point on.
  2. As soon as all of the sugar crystals have melted (the liquid sugar should be dark amber in color), immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.
  3. Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. Count to three, then slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate. Note than when you add the butter and the cream, the mixture will foam up considerably.
  4. Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then pour into a glass mason jar and let sit to cool to room temperature.
To make the candied pecans:
  1. Warm brown sugar with honey and water in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Stir in pecans, tossing to coat, then transfer to a lightly oiled 4-sided sheet pan.
  2. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and shiny, about 15 minutes. Transfer pecans with a metal spatula to a rack to cool.



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