Sunday, October 27, 2013
Some of us are bakers and some of us are cooks. Few of us are really good at both. (Although I know quite a few who are!) And then there are some -- like me -- who refuse to admit that it doesn't make any sense that a good cook can't be a good baker -- so I continue to bake, mistake after mistake, failure after failure.
And once in a blue moon a mistake blooms into a roaring success! Case in point: these cupcakes.
It's a long story; I'll (try to) keep it short. Since cheesecake is one dessert I can bake successfully time after time, I planned to make one for my sister-in-law's birthday party. A maple walnut cheesecake, to be precise. (It was scrumptious.)
But even cutting it into 16 pieces wouldn't be enough for the expected crowd, so I planned to make cupcakes, too. Not ordinary cupcakes, mind you. The "creative" baker in me was going to experiment. In cooking, that's not something I'm unaccustomed to doing. Baking? Another story.
I had some canned pumpkin pie filling lurking in the pantry. (A mistake purchase; meant to grab plain ol' pumpkin. Got the "filling" instead in a blind reach.) Found a cake recipe that called for using pumpkin pie filling. So far, so good. But to make it special, to put my imprint on it, I decided to fill the cupcakes with cream cheese, a method I'd used several times making these pumpkin cream cheese muffins.
I made a couple other additions, subtractions, deletions to the original recipe, and popped these babies in the oven.
Testing for doneness was a little tricky for me, because of the creamy filling and the crunchy topping. So I trusted my own experience with my oven and took them out two minutes early. I let them cool just a bit. Still warm, I tore one apart to test. "Hmmm," I say to self, "still too gooey. Either they're not done, or just still warm."
Although panic had not yet set in -- the gathering was still a few hours away -- I was stymied for Plan B. Just then, the phone rang. It was my friend Susie suggesting that she bake something extra for the birthday. Was she psychic? Had she eavesdropped on my near-panic? What a godsend! Hallelujahs all over the place! Bless you, Susie! I did not tell her my tale of baking woe and simply said, "Great idea!"
Later that evening, everyone was delighted with both my cheesecake and Susie's spice cake. The next day, my daughter was visiting and casually asked about the cupcakes she spied.
"Oh, those, " I said, "I'm afraid they 're a mistake. I tried to get creative and it they didn't turn out so swell. Wanna try one?"
Amy pronounced them delicious and I had to try myself then. They were delicious! They just needed a little cooling, time to set up.
So a basic cooking lesson I learned long ago was reinforced. Never make something brand new for a special occasion. If you do, have a good friend as a back-up.
Pumpkin Spice Crunch Cupcakes
with Cream Cheese Filling
adapted from verybestbaking.com
makes 24 cupcakes
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1 package spice cake mix, divided
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cup pumpkin pie filling
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
4 tablespoons butter, softened
About two hours before baking, mix the cream cheese and sugar well. waxed paper, form a log about 12 inches long. Using the waxed paper to help, roll the log into a tube. Wrap again with foil, and pop in the freezer for at least two hours until firm.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin pans by lining with paper cups, or using non-stick spray.
Combine 3 cups only of the cake mix (saving the rest for the topping), eggs pumpkin pie mix and the spices in a large mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until moistened. t\Then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.place about one tablespoon of batter into prepared muffin pans. Take the chilled cream cheese log from the freezer and cut into 24 slices. Place one slice in each cup. Then pour the rest of the batter evenly among the muffin
Combine the reserved cake mix, coconut and nuts in small bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender and sprinkle over batter. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack.