Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

I can’t wait for Christmas.

Each day that passes, bringing me closer and closer to my absolute favorite holiday makes me more and more excited. Like, I can’t wait for Halloween to be over with, and Thanksgiving to skip on by. Bring on the decked halls, mistletoe, sugar plum fairies and that jolly old man who brings wonderful presents to me.

What’s not to love?

Every year, my mom and I are psychotic enough to participate in Black Friday festivities.

Do other countries participate in Black Friday? I’m going to take a wild guess and say no. I can’t imagine anyone justifying the need and/or want to wake up at 2am, drive out to Target and stand in the freezing cold night for hours in anticipation to buy some a digital camera or a Barbie doll.

It’s kind of crazy, even if I do partake in this event each year.

I remember waking up at two one year to be at KB Toys (remember them?) with my mom at three. We waited in the dark night, rain pouring down all around us, probably for something really stupid like a Furby.

Then a few years back, we stood in line for hours outside of Target, shifting our weight to keep our body temperature regulated, plotting our store-layout game plan of attack to score a limited edition collection of Littlest Pet Shop, my sister’s first known addiction and reason of her childhood existence.

Last year, we waited outside Target (again–apparently that’s our stompin’ grounds) for a digital camera, a digital photo frame, and some towels. All in all, a worthwhile experience.

I can understand why people think Black Friday is dangerous. I would fully participate in a good old fashioned trampling if it meant getting my greedy hands on a dirt cheap camcorder or something. Those who get trampled probably aren’t greedy enough, which is sad to say–of course they shouldn’t die. But Black Friday is purely for the insane people of Christmas to venture out of their inner psychosis and put it on full display by camping outside of Best Buy (something which I even draw the line at. Well, so far).

So why am I rambling about Black Friday? Because I’ve been Christmas shopping. I know, I know, it’s October blah blah blah. Spare me. I love Christmas. If my family didn’t whine like little babies, I’d play Christmas music all day every day. Our halls would be constantly decked. I would probably bake Christmas cookies all day… and these pumpkin cupcakes.

Can you believe I used to hate pumpkin pie? I think I was a stupid little kid.

But now I’m obsessed. Whenever Jamba Juice releases their Pumpkin Smash smoothie, I know it’s fall. There’s just something so quintessentially warm, gooey and amazing about pumpkin, which was reason enough to put this awesome squash into a cupcake. Obviously, my psychosis is good for some things!

And because, eventually, Thanksgiving will rear its head, I figured it’s never too early to think about pumpkin pie. So I made Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes instead. They look like pies but are disguised as unbelievable pumpkin cupcakes. If Target sold these, I would stand in line at 2 am for them. No joke. They could make anybody crazy… so bake them off and spread the psycho cheer 🙂

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes *cupcake recipe adapted by Betty Crocker’s Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes 

1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie mix)
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (can substitute with oil)
1/2 cup water
4 eggs
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 pkg pumpkin spice pudding mix (found in the baking or seasonal aisle of your grocery store. If you can’t find this, increase your pie spice to 1 1/2 tsp and use 1/2 pkg of vanilla or butterscotch pudding mix)
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe & ingredients follow)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin pans with 24 paper liners. In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, pumpkin, unsweetened applesauce, water, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice until well blended, about 2 minutes. Beat in pudding mix until combined. Portion batter evenly among muffin cups and bake, approx. 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with light moist crumbs. Cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz container cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
About 5 cups powdered sugar
Wilton copper or brown food gel coloring, optional
Piping tips Wilton 47 (small basket weave tip) and Atecco 12 (small open circle)–the basket weave will make your lattice pattern, and the small open circle will make the edges

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla until blended and creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add in powdered sugar one cup at a time, until a stiff but spreadable consistency is achieved. Portion out a scant 1/4 cup of this frosting and place it into a ziploc bag; seal out the air and snip a corner off for a makeshift “whipped cream” piping bag.
2. For the remaining frosting, add very small amounts of copper or brown food dye to your bowl until you achieve a desired “pie crust” shade. Mine turned out kind of peachy, but that was okay with me. Start small–you don’t want it to be too peachy or too brown.
3. Next, put half of the frosting into a piping bag attached with your basket weave tip. Put the rest of the frosting into a piping bag attached with your small open circle tip.
4. For Lattice Pies: Make three vertical lines down the center of the cupcake. Then, make three horizontal lines, overlapping with the vertical, across the area of the cupcake to create the lattice look. Use your open circle tip to pipe small circles, barely lifting your piping bag, around the perimeter of the cupcake for the crust.

5. For Old Fashioned Pies: Use the same piping technique with your open circle piping bag by piping small circles around the area of the cupcake, barely lifting your piping bag from one circle to the next (it creates a tight looking “crust”; otherwise, if you lift up too high, you’ll start creating peaks in your circles which you want to try to avoid). Once you have a crust border, use your white frosting in the ziploc to pipe a dollop of “whipped cream” into the center of each cupcake. Feel free to use the whipped cream bag on your lattice pies as well; I’m sure it’d look adorable.

You could even sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over the tops of these to create the illusion of a real(er) pie. That’d be yummy!

These are fun, whimsical cupcakes to create for the upcoming holidays–and give the traditional pumpkin pie a serious run for its money. I’ve probably eaten enough of these cupcakes today to satisfy every time in the past I’ve said no to a slice of pumpkin pie.

Enjoy!!

xo, Hayley

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