Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ugly, Tasty Little Cupcakes

These are certainly not my finest culinary work. Not even close. But they do taste good, and that's what matters in the end, right?

I made these on Sunday, partly because I've decided that I can eat as many sweets as I want to on the weekend if I'm abstaining during the week, and partly because Kathryn is in town and I wanted to bring some dessert to lunch. Mostly I made them for Kathryn, because I love her, and I've come to realize that my favorite way to express love is through home-cooked treats.

I also need to fess up right now that these cupcakes were not made from scratch. They're cheater cupcakes, which I feel pretty bad about, but I saw a recipe on Hungry Girl that I wanted to try. You take a box of cake mix. Instead of adding oil, eggs and water, you add canned pumpkin. That's it! So easy, right? Well, easy, but perhaps not the beautiful cupcakes I was hoping for.

This is what I started out with:

I used Devil's Food cake mix and some Libby's canned pumpkin (which I think I've stocked myself well enough to last me a year!). Literally all you do is mix the cake mix with 1 (15 ounce) can of canned pumpkin. I have jumbo cans of pumpkin, and here's the mistake I made: I used 1 3/4 cups of pumpkin instead of the 15 ounces. I'd opened a can a couple days before to use in oatmeal and smoothies, so rather than opening a new can, I used what was left over. Looking back, I think these might have come out a little prettier (and a little less dense) if I'd used 2 cups of pumpkin instead of 1 3/4. So if you decide to try this out, keep that in mind.

Mix the pumpkin and cake mix together. This will be dense, so put your back in to it!

Instead of using cupcake papers (I didn't know if the batter would stick to the paper too much because of the lack of oil) I sprayed the cupcake tins with baking spray, then scooped the batter into 18 cups. The batter was very thick, and instead of trying to smooth it out in the tins, I just left it as it came off the spoon (I think this was my second mistake - they would have looked nicer if I spent a little time primping before baking them).

I baked according to the package directions, at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. When I took them out they looked like this:

I panicked. These don't look like the perfect little cupcakes I was expecting! So I grabbed one with bare hands (ouch), pulled it apart, and fired a piece in my mouth (ouch)....and then...yummm. Maybe not pretty, but they sure are tasty!

I let them cool for a couple hours and then slathered them with whipped vanilla icing. There's nothing in life that a little icing can't fix. And colored nonpareils! These were one of the fun cooking things in my stocking from my mom. These are quite pretty, and they add a little crunch to the frosting which I always love.

Yum. Yep, there's nothing a little frosting can't fix! 

So here's my opinion of these - they are moist and do not taste like they're guilt-free at all, which is definitely a plus. They seem like a cross between a cupcake and a brownie. The frosting and nonpareils are good on them, but if eating them without, I think they taste best when hot. I bet they'd be amazing warmed up with some vanilla ice cream and hot fudge.

So there you have it, ugly (but tasty) little cupcakes!

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