Cocoa Pumpkins

I recently read on the Cupcake Project that because I have a food blog, I can do whatever the heck I want involving food. Given this permission, I thought it’d be a good time to start the pumpkin season (I’m aware it’s only August, but I love pumpkin the way I love peanut butter…and also, I can do whatever the heck I want involving food). I also prepared pumpkin pancakes for our guests last weekend, and I couldn’t bear to let the remaining pumpkin puree go to waste. I had a small portion of chocolate ganache left over from my Peanuts cake so I figured I’d try a little experiment-cocoa and pumpkin.

No, no, that’s Coco and pumpkin.

This is cocoa and pumpkin. Two fabulous ingredients blended together into one delightful little cupcake…that I hated. As you can see from the picture above, the cupcakes look lovely, and they’re moist and fluffy and pumpkin. Something was just off for me….

Mmm chocolate!

…I even dipped them in chocolate ganache…

Ooh whipped cream frosting!

…and topped them with a fabulous cinnamon whipped cream cheese frosting…

…and still nothing. I just couldn’t fall in love with these. Why am I still posting them, you ask? Because someone once told me that just because I don’t like it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t good. I thought some of the more adventurous bakers out there may enjoy this because surely I do not. Anyway, I’ll pumpkin-up in the next few months with some fabulous, delicious things 🙂

Cocoa Pumpkin Cupcakes

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

For the Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 batch of chocolate ganache

For the Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

How to Do It

  1. Line two muffin pans with paper liners, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a small mixing bowl, and set aside. Lightly whisk the pumpkin, buttermilk, and vanilla extract together in a separate bowl, and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugars together using the whip attachment in a stand-mixer or whip with an electric hand mixer. Gradually add the eggs one at a time, and add the yolk. Once the eggs are blended, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Add approximately 1/3 of the flour mixture to the bowl, and whip at low speed. Alternately add 1/2 of the pumpkin mixture and 1/3 of the flour mixture until all the ingredients are combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  5. Use and ice cream scoop to scoop the batter into the prepared pan, filling each liner no more than 2/3 full. Bake the cupcakes for 28 minutes, rotating the pan once at the halfway point, or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed.
  6. While the cupcakes are baking, make the frosting. Whip the heavy cream and granulated sugar at high speed until stiff peaks begin to form, and the whipped cream is heavy and thick. Set the whipped cream aside. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese with the paddle attachment of a stand-mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend the confectioner’s sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon in a small bowl, and begin adding the mixture to the cream cheese 1/4 cup at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary, and when the ingredients are fully combined, remove the bowl from the mixer and begin to fold the whipped cream in with a sturdy rubber spatula. Chill the frosting in the refrigerator in a stainless steel bowl while the cupcakes finish baking and cooling.
  7. Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and let them cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling. When the cupcakes are cool, dip the tops in chocolate ganache. This is easiest when you dip the cupcakes upside down into a shallow bowl of chocolate ganache, and spin them until they’re completely covered. Chill the dipped cupcakes for 15 minutes or until the ganache layer has hardened. Top with cream cheese frosting, and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from

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Pumpkin Cupcakes

Hawaiian Pumpkin Bread

I know it’s not technically pumpkin season anymore…and technically this is a breakfast recipe, not a dessert…and techinically, I don’t care because it’s delightful. This recipe is vegan-friendly, but you can make it with real eggs if egg replacer freaks you out or if you can’t locate it. The bread is really soft and moist so I feel the addition of real eggs may toughen it a little…but again, if you can’t handle the idea of egg replacer, by all means, give it a shot. Don’t alter the chocolate though. Milk chocolate won’t enhance the pumpkin flavor but instead make it too sugary while semisweet or carob chocolate chips will give it a rich, sinful taste. I’m not even sure how this is a (healthy) breakfast recipe because it feels like I’m cheating every time I indulge in it early in the morning.

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 8-10 servings

  • 2 cans pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, or 2 eggs’ worth of egg replacer
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 cup safflower oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups spelt flour
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup semisweet or carob chocolate chips
  • 1 cup whole macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional, but lovely)
  • 1 13″ x 9″ cake pan

How to Do It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and lightly grease a 13″ x 9″ pan.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips, and the macadamia nuts in a large mixing bowl, and set aside. Whip the pumpkin, sugar, eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract in a separate mixing bowl until the ingredients are blended.
  3. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until just combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the greased cake pan, and spread evenly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips and the coconut flakes over the top of the batter.
  5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when pressed lightly.
  6. Remove from the heat, and cool in the pan for 15 minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack.

Recipe adapted from Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet.

Tip: The ingredients are the key to this recipe. Spelt flour is much finer than all-purpose flour so it produces a softer product than the same amount of white flour would so don’t try to replace it with an equal amount of all-purpose. Plus it’s healthier with fewer carbs. 🙂

Extra Tip: For a little extra indulgence, add some whipped cream or ice cream.

Pumpkin Mousse!

At this time of year, I can’t help it. I need to indulge in pumpkin in any way possible, and the thought of it always makes me very excited. Hence the ! after the title for every pumpkin recipe. It just makes me excited for the chilly nights, and I love that one ingredient can be used in every type of dessert to make something delicious.

This next recipe is a little creation of my own. I searched for pumpkin mousse recipes in a variety of places, but I couldn’t find any to my liking. Most of them involved some combination of sugar-free instant pudding, cream cheese, or some other non-mousse related ingredient. I wanted the more traditional route. Mousses can cover a broad range of creamy, fluffy desserts, but generally, they always have whipped cream, meringue, or both folded into them. I decided to make a basic pastry cream and add some pumpkin goodies and whipped cream to make it a mousse.

Pumpkin Mousse

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 6 1 cup servings

  • Whipped cream (8oz heavy cream : 2oz sugar)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tsp corn starch, sifted
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp allspice

How to Do It

Start by setting up your kitchen for what’s most comfortable for you. This is not a difficult process, but timing is everything. It will help if you have your ingredients readily available and can do everything in a streamline fashion. This is how I set up my counter to make the mousse.

Measure out what you can ahead of time.

Now, let’s get into creating!

  1. First, make the whipped cream, chill, and set aside. It may be helpful to divide it in half as you’ll be folding half into your mousse and using the other half to top the mousse.
  2. Dissolve the first 1/4 cup plus 1/2 Tbsp sugar into the milk in a sauce pan, and set over medium heat. Bring just to a boil.
  3. While the milk is heating, combine the eggs, the cornstarch, and second portion of sugar into a mixing bowl or stand mixer. Using the whip attachment, whip the ingredients until bright yellow and creamy.
  4. Temper the egg mixture by slowly and steadily pouring the hot milk in a thin stream into the mixing bowl while continuing to beat the eggs. Do this until the entire amount of milk is whipped in, and remember: if you add the milk too quickly, it will start to cook the eggs!
  5. Transfer the mixture back into the hot saucepan, and place over medium heat while continuously stirring.
  6. Add the butter and vanilla extract, and continue stirring. The mixture will begin thickening quickly. When it comes to a boil, remove it from the heat.
  7. Stir in the pumpkin and spices until fully blended.
  8. Cool the mixture quickly by putting the pan in an ice bath, or transfer it to a smaller bowl or pan and refrigerate. Be sure to cover with plastic wrap so the cream doesn’t develop a crust on the top. No one likes crusty mousse.
  9. After the mixture is completely cooled and chilled, fold in half of your whipped cream. A rubber spatula works well for this. The texture will begin to change from a pudding-like texture to a creamy mousse.
  10. Divide into six serving dishes (I used ramekins), top with additional whipped cream and a ginger snap, grab a spoon, and enjoy!

Pumpkin Cupcakes!

New England fall is absolutely my favorite time of year. I love when the days cool down and when the nights get crisp, I love the array of earthy oranges, reds, and golds the leaves turn, and most importantly, I LOVE fall baking. Especially pumpkin, and especially these cupcakes. These little cuties have become a staple dessert for me, and they represent the kickoff of the fall and holiday seasons. I have not altered the ingredients in the cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart because I think they’re perfect, but I’ve perfected baking times and a cream cheese icing recipe that never fails.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Makes 24-30 small cupcakes

Stuff You’ll Need

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp ground ginger
• ¼ tsp ground allspice
• 1 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
• 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree

Tip: Make sure that the butter is cooled. You will be adding the butter and eggs to the recipe at the same time, and if the butter is still hot, it may partially cook the eggs and leave small pieces of egg in your batter. It makes a not-so-pretty batter.

How to Do It

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together your flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
2. In a large bowl or stand-mixer bowl, whisk together your brown sugar, granulated sugar, melted butter, and lightly beaten eggs. Gradually add dry ingredients, and whip until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, and whisk until blended.
3. Divide batter among liners, and fill each cup no more than half way to two-thirds. Bake until cake tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans once if necessary. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Recipe courtesy of

Tip: Use a small to medium ice cream scoop to measure out your batter when filling the cups. You’ll always have a consistent size, which will guarantee even baking, and cleanup will be easy.

Extra Tip: I’ve found that these cupcakes bake perfectly at 22 minutes in my gas oven. I let them bake for 11 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake another 11 minutes. They are perfect every time. For those of us who don’t have convection ovens, it bakes the cupcakes more evenly.

Why is it best to cool on a wire rack instead of a sheet pan? By cooling your goodies on a wire rack, you’re encouraging air to circulate all around the treats. This helps the treats cool faster, and as a result, you can eat them sooner.

Cream Cheese Icing

Frosts 3-4 dozen cupcakes


• ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
• 2 8 oz containers of cream cheese
• 1 tsp almond extract
• 4 cups confectioner’s sugar


1. Cream together the butter and cream cheese until well-blended and smooth in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer.
2. Add almond extract, and blend.
3. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar. Generally, 1 cup at a time works best, and whip until creamy between each addition.
4. For a fun, polished fall look, add a few drops of orange gel coloring, and use a decorating bag with a star tip to apply the frosting.

Tip: Soften the cream cheese and butter by placing them on your stovetop while your cupcakes are baking. This eliminates the use of a microwave and cuts the time the products are out of the refrigerator in half. It will save you time, cut the risk of bacteria from the dairy products at room temperature, and save you electricity. 🙂

Lighten It Up! Use a combination of reduced fat, fat free, and regular cream cheese, and you’ll save some calories. Use vegan-friendly buttery sticks, and you’ll save even more. Sweet!

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