Allllllright! Progress is definitely being made.
I've settled on a recipe. I tried a couple in January that weren't quite right, but ran across one that I have tried now with both cupcakes and a layer cake, and I am a happy camper!
First, a warning for all you professional bakers out there: you might want to look away and never return to my blog again. I'm sure the recipe and techniques I'm about to describe fly in the face of all higher-level culinary instruction. I make no apologies: a thrifty bride's gotta do what she's gotta do. Ok? Fearless pioneers and fellow kitchen crazies, read on.
The recipe I made the first time was one I found online for homemade spice cake with a bourbon maple cream cheese frosting. Not only was it expensive and difficult to get right, it was simply too much hassle to scale up and fuss with a few days before my wedding. And it felt like it was just missing... something. So I decided to try making cupcakes Sandra Lee style - Semi-Homemade.
That's right. Move over, Martha Stewart and Colette Peters (who is a GENIUS by the way). Betty Crocker just became my best friend! Your adventurous CaraCakes marched her unpretentious behind straight into the cake mix aisle and proceeded to doctor up a boxed yellow cake with a few spices as the base of her cupcakes. Can I just say, please - there's a reason they make boxed cake mix! It's cheap, tasty, and virtually idiot proof. Big sigh of relief.
Just as I thought I had everything under control, my fiance suggested that I make cupcakes with some sort of ooey gooey filling to render them even more decadent and wedding-like. After much googling, I doctored a pumpkin filling recipe I found online to squirt into the middle of the spice cakes, and the result was VERY good!
So here's the recipe for my cupcakes. Love 'em for their simplicity or hate 'em 'cause they're from the wrong aisle in the grocery store... they're still worth a try!
CaraCakes' Spicy Fall Wedding Cuppycakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese filling and Maple Buttercream Icing:
1 box yellow cake + ingredients to make
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. ginger
¼ t. nutmeg
¼ t. cloves
Combine spices with dry cake mix. Add wet ingredients and mix as directed on box. Pour by ¼ cupfuls into 24 paper-lined cupcake molds. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
4 T. butter, at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1t. real vanilla extract - don't skimp on the cheap stuff!
1 1/3 c. confectioners sugar
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
Beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla until creamy. Add sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in pumpkin puree. Place filling in pastry bag fitted with bismarck tip. Squeeze approx. 1T filling into the center of each cuppy cake.
1 container prepared buttercream frosting - oh yeah, I used Betty here too!
½ t. maple flavor
Mix maple flavor into frosting. If desired, add extra powdered sugar and mix to stiffen up frosting for piping purposes. Frost filled cuppy cakes with Maple Frosting. If desired, use pastry bag with star tip to swirl frosting onto cuppy cakes. Enjoy! Yum!