Tag Archives: fall baking

Maple Cupcakes

I know we’re past Halloween, but I’m not quite ready to dive into Thanksgiving food. Rest assured, I will be soon, but I need just one more minute to savor non-holiday food before we get to the pies and sides and then everything that Christmas requires. All of those things are wonderful, but let’s a moment for Maple Cupcakes first. I promise they deserve a second in the spotlight.

Maple Cupcakes

To me, Maple Cupcakes are the ideal treat to make the first weekend in November. Their hint of spice and natural colors make them seasonally appropriate, but they’re not associated with any holiday tradition I can think of. They’re just delicious—nothing more, nothing less.

Maple Cupcakes

Maple Cupcakes are a take on my reader favorite Maple Layer Cake. Like that dessert, they have maple syrup in a minimum of three elements; four, if you’re feeling kicky. Truly, these are a maple lover’s dream.

(It’s me. Hi. I’m the maple lover. It’s me.)

Maple Cupcakes

The cupcakes themselves are a lightly modified spin on my go-to vanilla recipe. They’re simple to make and the results are spectacular—soft and springy with the tiniest hint of spice to accent the maple. They bake up golden-edged and beautiful, with even surfaces perfect for brushing with more maple syrup and piling high with maple frosting. I like to finish them with coarse sugar, but an extra dab of maple syrup before serving is a nice touch, too.

In short, these are all maple all the time—it’s an approach I can get behind.

Maple Cupcakes
Maple Cupcakes
makes 14-16 cupcakes

Cupcake Batter:
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Frosting:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons heavy cream

For Assembly:
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
sparkling or coarse sugar (optional)

Make the cupcake batter. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Combine milk and sour cream a liquid measuring cup, then use a fork to whisk them together. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar, followed by maple syrup. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the milk/sour cream. Add the remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining milk/sour cream.

Fill liners 2/3-3/4 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner's sugar in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Beat in maple syrup, followed by heavy cream.

To assemble, use a pastry brush to brush the top of each cooled cupcake with maple syrup. Let soak in for 1-2 minutes, just so there is no syrup standing on the surface of the cupcakes. Spread or pipe maple frosting on cooled cupcakes. Finish with coarse sugar. Add a few drops of maple syrup immediately before serving, if desired.

Leftover cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies​

During my blog sabbatical, I made a mental list of all the things I wanted to make last year but never found the right moment. These little sugar cookie pies were on it, and I’m so happy they’re on here now, not least because it means we can all both dream about and eat them anytime we want. Having this kind of power could be dangerous, but I’m willing to risk it.

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies​

I mean, look at these things. They’ve got thick cookie crusts and plenty of smooth pumpkin filling—a perfect two-bite dessert for when you can’t decide between pie and cookies. Why not both, you know?

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies​

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies begin with a batch of Pumpkin Spice Spread. If you’ve yet to try it, it’s exactly what it sounds like: spreadable pumpkin pie filling perfect for toast, s’mores, or putting in pumpkin baked goods. It’s made with pumpkin purée, sweetened condensed milk, a couple of egg yolks, and pumpkin pie spice, and comes together quickly on the stove. It will need to be made ahead so that it can be easily dolloped into the crusts before baking. And yes, the batch makes enough for you to sneak a few bites right out of the jar!

The sugar cookie crusts are the same graham cracker-spiked base I used in my Key Lime Linzers. It comes together pretty quickly and doesn’t need a chill or anything—just press heaping tablespoons into the bottoms and up the sides of your muffin tin to create little crust shapes, then fill and bake! I tested this recipe with with my Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie dough and it worked just as well, but the graham cracker crumbs give these a hint of pie crust flavor that I really love.

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies​

The pies bake up in just under twenty minutes—you’ll know they’re ready when the filling has puffed and the cookie crusts are beginning to turn golden. The centers will relax as they cool, and before long it’ll be time to dig in!

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies would be great for a bake sale, a Friendsgiving, or an autumnal tea party, but I made them just because I could. Highly recommend.

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies​
Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies
makes about 2.5 dozen little pies

Pumpkin Spice Spread:
1 cup pure pumpkin purée (I use Libby’s)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Cookie Crusts:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the Pumpkin Spice Spread. Place pumpkin in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until slightly drier and a tiny bit darker in color. Remove from heat.

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

In the heatproof bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Whisk in pumpkin purée. Place bowl over simmering water, creating a double boiler. Let cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes (it will thicken further as it cools). Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minute before transferring to a heatproof container. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface. Let cool completely at room temperature before refrigerating for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake, place the oven racks in central positions. Preheat the oven to 350F. Put cupcake liners in two muffin pans. Set aside.

Make the cookie crusts. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Dough may appear crumbly, but should hold together very well when pinched.

Scoop dough in 1 1/2 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Working with one ball at a time, press it into the bottom and about halfway up the sides of one of the cupcake liners in the pans. This should create a little crust shape with a place in the center for the filling. Repeat the process with remaining cookie dough.

Remove Pumpkin Spice Spread from the refrigerator and give it a stir. Spoon a scant tablespoon into the center of each cookie dough crust. When this is done, wet your finger and smooth out any peaks.

Tap full pans on the counter 5 times to release any air bubbles. Bake sugar cookie pies for 16-18 minutes, or until puffed in the centers and turning golden at the edges. Let sugar cookie pies cool in their pans for 10 minutes before removing to cooling racks to cool completely. Once cool, you may peel off cupcake liners.

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies will keep at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5.

Orange Cardamom Scones

Orange Cardamom Scones​

If you’ve never tried combining orange and cardamom, prepared to be wowed. Paired together in baked goods, they somehow walk the line between tea-like subtlety and stealing center stage, and are never, ever boring. In a season of pumpkin spices and apple ciders, this blend can sometimes get lost in the mix, but just like your favorite character actor, when it gets its moment, it’s all “pumpkin spice who?”

Orange Cardamom Scones​

Now, this is not the first time I’ve put Orange Cardamom on this site—far from it, in fact. If you’ve tried my tea cake, shortbread or morning buns, you know why I’m over here waxing poetic, but if you haven’t, I suggest you start simply by mixing some zest and spice into scones.

Orange Cardamom Scones​

Oh yes, these Orange Cardamom Scones may not look particularly exceptional, but they are. Tender, perfumed with citrus, and reminiscent of chai (that’s where you might recognize cardamom from!), they’re a perfect pastry for a weekend morning or lazy afternoon before it starts getting dark at 3pm and afternoons cease to exist.

Orange Cardamom Scones​

Scones themselves are pretty easy to make, and as they require cold butter, they’re a great way to practice some pie dough skills before all the holiday food-ing begins. But they’re also a great way to usher in some coziness as fall finally (finally) seems like it might be here to stay.

Orange Cardamom Scones​
Orange Cardamom Scones
makes 8 scones

Scones:
2/3 cup half-and-half, very cold + more for brushing
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
zest of 1 medium navel orange (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes

Glaze:
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1-1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (from about 1 medium navel orange)

Make the scones. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together half-and-half, maple syrup, and vanilla. Refrigerate.

In a small bowl, use your fingertips to rub together orange zest and sugar until combined.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cardamom, salt, and orange sugar. Add cold butter. Use a pastry blender or clean fingertips to cut the butter into the flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in half-and-half mixture.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Pat it to 1-inch thick circle. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice circle into 8 wedges. Place scones at least 2 inches apart on prepared pan. Brush with more half-and-half. Bake 16-18 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Meanwhile, set a cooling rack over a piece of parchment paper. Let scones cool on the pan on a rack for a few minutes, before removing to the prepared rack.

When scones are cool enough to handle but still a little warm, make the icing. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar, salt and 1 tablespoon orange juice. Add more juice by the 1/2 teaspoon until icing is thick, but pourable. Pour or drizzle icing over the scones as desired. Icing will set quickly, and eventually harden completely after a few hours.

Scones are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes

Two pumpkin recipes in a row?! ‘Tis the season.

And even if it weren’t, the prospect of these fluffy, golden Pumpkin Pancakes might just get me to crack open a can of the orange stuff any ol’ time. Even in the middle of summer. But seeing as it’s October right now, I suppose I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Right here, right now though, on this autumnal Wednesday? Nobody can argue with me about seasonality. They can call me basic if they want, but if being basic means I get to have a stack of Pumpkin Pancakes for breakfast and then stock my freezer for an inevitable mid-November Pumpkin Pancake “emergency?” Well, call me basic.

Call me whatever you want, in fact. Just don’t forget to call me when you’re making these for breakfast.

Pumpkin Pancakes
makes 18 pancakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup pure pumpkin purée
1 1/3 cup milk or buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
canola or vegetable oil, for cooking

For serving:
pats of butter
chopped nuts
maple syrup

Preheat oven to 200F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium mixing bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together pumpkin purée, milk (or buttermilk), melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk until no streaks of flour remain—there will still be some lumps. Let batter rest 5-10 minutes.

Heat your pan or griddle over medium heat for a few minutes, until heated through. Brush with oil (or grease lightly), then wipe excess out with a folded paper towel or kitchen towel.

Stir rested batter one or two strokes. Pour 1/4 cup increments of batter on greased pan. Let cook 2-3 minutes, until bubbles are forming and they are turning golden. Flip with a spatula and cook for 2 minutes, or until the bottom is turning golden. Remove to prepared baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until serving.

Continue making pancakes with remaining batter, greasing the pan only as necessary.

Serve immediately with butter, chopped nuts and/or maple syrup, if desired.

Leftover pancakes may be stacked in threes, triple-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for a couple of months. Discard plastic and microwave 2.5 to 3 minutes before serving.

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

I will never not be thrilled with sugar cookies. Plain, sprinkled, iced, rolled, maple-scented, cut out or dropped, they’re perfect in all their forms.

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Today’s fall-friendly sugar cookies are spiked with pumpkin and spice for maximum seasonal coziness! They take just minutes to mix and bake, and are finished off with a simple vanilla drizzle that is so much more than the sum of its parts.

So what does one do with two dozen Pumpkin Sugar Cookies?! Eat them, duh. Or share them or submit them to a bake sale (are bake sales still a thing?). I personally like to hoard them all to myself for days on end. Like last week’s Salty Maple Brown Butter Blondies, these sweets just get better and better as time goes on. It’s true! Their high ratio of wet to dry ingredients and the inclusion of moist pumpkin purée mean these stay super soft. It’s the ideal baking situation if your fall has been as wildly busy as mine.

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Like I said, i will never not be thrilled with sugar cookies.

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
makes about 2 dozen cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pure pumpkin purée
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Vanilla Glaze:
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 teaspoons milk of choice

Arrange your oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment. Set aside.

Place butter in a medium pot (4 quart) over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until melted, then remove from heat. Stir in sugar, followed by pumpkin purée, egg yolk and vanilla. Whisk in flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Let dough sit for 10 minutes.

Scoop dough in 1 1/2 tablespoon increments (I use a medium cookie scoop). Roll into balls and place at least 2.5 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake cookies 10-11 minutes, or until puffed and no longer raw looking. Cookies will relax as they begin to cool.

Set a cooling rack over a pieces of wax paper or parchment.

Let cookies cool for 10 minutes on the pans before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl use a fork to whisk together confectioner’s sugar, salt and milk. If glaze is too thick, add more milk by the 1/2 teaspoon, until desired consistency is reached. If glaze is too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar by the tablespoon until desired consistency is reached.

Load glaze into a small piping bag and snip off the tiniest corner. The glaze will be dry to the touch within 20 minutes and harden after a few hours.

For best pumpkin flavor, let glazed cookies rest for at least 30 minutes (or up to a day) before serving.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.