Pumpkin spice cupcakes with pumpkin spice filling

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pumpkin cake

Pumpkin spice cake with pumpkin spice pudding

Pumpkin spice cupcakes are only improved with pumpkin spice pudding as a filling. Topped with the very yucky but totally necessary pumpkin marshmallowy candy, these really represent both Halloween and autumn.

candy corn and candy pumpkins

Yucky Halloween candy

Check out the pumpkin spice cupcake recipe. The only difference will be the filling and frosting.

pumpkin spice cupcakes

Pumpkin spice cupcakes all ready for Halloween

Feeling stabby – Vanilla cupcakes, cherry blood filling and knives

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feeling stabby

Vanilla cupcakes with cherry “blood” filling decorated with small candy knives

A number of years ago, I worked with a guy who was accused of stabbing another person to death in a parking garage. He spent some time in jail but was eventually released – I suppose there was a lack of evidence. I don’t know all the details of the story or the case. But I can’t look at these small candy knives and not think of him, regardless of his guilt or innocence.

Vanilla cupcake recipe

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup softened butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 375F/180-185C. Line a cupcake pan with liners.

Whisk dry ingredients together in one bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and 1/4 cup of the milk. Beat for a few minutes until the mixture is light. Alternately beat in dry ingredient mix and the remaining half cup of milk. Half-fill each cupcake liner.

Bake for 15-20 minutes (check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of cupcakes; a clean toothpick means the cupcake is ready). Cool.

When cooled, hollow out the center of the cupcakes, discard the middle parts but retain the very top to recover the filled cupcake. Fill each cupcake with cherry jam or cherry pie filling and top with the reserved cupcake lid.

At this point you could also frost the cupcake but the “bloody knife effect” is best achieved by simply sprinkling more jam/filling messily on top of the cupcake and plunging the candy knife into the cupcake or flat on top of the cupcake.

feeling stabby vanilla cupcakes

Vanilla cupcakes with cherry filling

Candy corn & cappuccino cupcakes

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candy corn

Disgusting candy corn and candy pumpkins

The Halloween bake included some cappuccino cupcakes, which were decorated for Halloween. I covered them with chocolate frosting and topped with decorations. Not really exciting decorations but I did use candy corn – a very disgusting concoction that is highly popular this time of year in the US. It was sort of funny – I brought the leftover candy corn and little pumpkin-shaped candies made of the same gross materials designed to be a kind of corn syrup marshmallowy thing to work, thinking no one would be interested in this disgustingness. But an American colleague was so excited that she wished I had an even bigger secret stash of the stuff somewhere else.

cappuccino choc candy corn

Cappuccino cupcakes with chocolate frosting and candy corn topping

Halloween cookie time

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I always make a mix of cookies and cupcakes, following the principle of “something for everyone”. Despite my attempts to provide variety, it is possible that there is not always something for everyone. I know that people, such as vegans, those allergic to dairy, to nuts, to eggs, to wheat… most of these people won’t find any satisfaction in my baked goods. I imagine I will do something to accommodate these differences, but I don’t seem to ever get around to it.

I used my standard recipe for white chocolate macadamia cookies to make chocolate chip cookies using a package of Halloween chips:

Halloween chocolate chip cookie recipe

Halloween snickerdoodle recipe

Gingersnap cookie recipe

Witch finger cookie recipe

cartloads of halloween cookies

A whole cart of Halloween cookies, from Halloween chocolate chips & Halloween snickerdoodles, to gingersnaps topped with pumpkin spice kisses and witch fingers

full of win shortbread

Halloween shortbread slices

halloween chip choco chip

Orange and brown chocolate chip cookies – autumn & Halloween theme

Pumpkin doughnut plans

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I have never made doughnuts other than an ad-hoc attempt one year at making chrusciki, which are not doughnuts per se but are a fried dough of sorts.Frying is a pain, and traditional doughnuts don’t really seem like the kind of thing I want to bother with (or transport to the office, which is the final destination for most of my baked stuff).

I found a pumpkin baked doughnut recipe recently and wanted to try it for Halloween. I went to considerable effort when I was recently in the US to get a few doughnut pans. And then I did not in the end get around to making the doughnuts. But the time is coming.

Pumpkin doughnut recipe

Doughnuts

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons flour

Preheat oven to 350F/175C.

Beat all ingredients except flour until smooth. Add the flour to the mixture, stirring just until smooth.

Lightly grease two doughnut pans. Fill the pan sections about 3/4 full.

Bake the doughnuts for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center of the doughnuts comes out clean.

Remove from the oven, let sit for five minutes and loosen the edges of the doughnuts and transfer to a rack to cool.

Cinnamon-sugar doughnut coating

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

some sugar

Mix all together in a plastic Ziploc bag (for example). When doughnuts are warm but not fragile, place them into the bag of spice mix and gently shake to coat the doughnuts.

Halloween cupcakes, British accents & presentation nerves

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The day before Halloween, I brought a whole lot of Halloween-themed baked goods to my office. It also turned out that I had to be in an all-day training-and-information session with an external supplier. We enjoyed things like chocolate cupcakes all dressed up for Halloween fun. It’s always fun when external people come to the office when we have baked stuff just because the breadth and scale always seem a bit overwhelming to “outsiders” (seems overwhelming to “insiders”, too, who are not used to it).

choc sugar skulls

Chocolate cupcakes with sugar skulls for Halloween

spiderweb

Chocolate cupcakes with spiderweb pattern and chocolate-licorice “spider” in the middle

The following week there was yet another training session with a different person from the same company. All very nice, well-informed people, but the most recent presenter was English. I am not sure I have written much about my increasing aural displeasure at hearing English accents (mostly due to my string of bad experiences with English people). Nothing bad about this presentation (other than listening to the accent – haha). With time, the effect softened, and it did not bother me much, although the word choice and little language fumbles (seemingly due to nerves in the beginning of the presentation) had me chuckling a bit, from the statement, “Now we can get sort of really dirty with it” (meaning we were going to get our hands dirty digging deeper into the data in the system we were learning), to his added syllables to words with which his tongue apparently struggled, making “fruition” come out as “fruitition” and three attempts at “validity”, which eventually came out as “valididity”. More vexing was the misuse of comparatives (the repeated “more deeper”, “more easier”, “more stricter”). Infuriating that a native English speaker and professional (who makes a living at this public presentation thing) would so casually and easily make these kinds of mistakes. For what reason do comparatives like “deeper”, “better”, simpler” exist than to forgo the “more” in front? On the other hand, he used the word “livery”, which is not something you hear every day.

Not long thereafter, we had a divisional webinar in which loads of people, mostly non-native English speakers, had to deliver presentations to a room full of people and to cameras set up for the webinar, broadcast to a bunch of our global offices (internal information sharing, essentially). What I noticed is that people who are quite confident giving presentations even in a large room full of people suddenly seemed quite nervous when they were placed in front of a camera. Not sure why – I suspect I am the opposite because a room full of people can ask immediate questions and put you on the spot while a camera is totally anonymous – I don’t know or care who is on the other side (well, I do know and do care, but in the immediate moment, I can’t interact with or see them, so it’s somewhat “out of sight, out of mind”).

Not really important but observations nonetheless.

Perhaps even more important is the recipe for the cupcakes.

Basic chocolate cupcake recipe

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

2 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 cup boiling water

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Line cupcake pans with cupcake papers.

Cream sugar, shortening and eggs until fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix the boiling water with cocoa, set aside and let cool. In another bowl, sift the flour and baking soda. Once the cocoa mixture is cool, add the milk to it. Add flour mixture alternately with the cocoa-milk mixture into the creamed sugar-butter. Add vanilla. Distribute the batter evenly among the cupcake pans (to about half-full). Should make 24 cupcakes. Bake for about 20 or 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Your favorite chocolate frosting should top these cakes when they are cool… eat them plain or decorate as desired. In this case, as evidenced above, I topped some with some small sugar decorations. I topped the others with a spiderweb design using some orange gel frosting pens and a small chocolate-covered licorice bit (as a “spider”).