I mentioned in my previous post that I’ve never tried pumpkin in a sweet dish before. With Halloween around the corner I decided it was a good change to change all that. I bought a stack of pumpkins on the weekend and started having some fun.
My first stop was incorporating pumpkin into cake. I absolutely love all the spices that make up pumpkin pie spice, so I just knew I was going to love these. But I also wanted to incorporate some of Halloween into them as well. Here’s where the ghosts come in.
I started off making the pumpkin puree. Almost every pumpkin dessert recipe I find is American and as such calls for canned pumpkin. Something we don’t have here. I’m going to go into more detail with this later in the week, but making fresh simply involves roasting pumpkin until it’s soft and mashing it up into a fine puree.
Then I started working on the cupcakes. First get your flour sifted with the rest of the dry ingredients into a bowl, then stir them to get it all evenly distributed.
These cupcakes are made using the creaming method, so start by beating your butter and sugar together until it’s really light and fluffy. Then you can beat in the eggs and vanilla.
Last of all you’ll fold the pumpkin and flour in alternatively until your batter is all done. The batter tastes amazing and you might be tempted to eat it as is, so try to get some of it in the patty pans.
Divide it up, smooth over the tops and get baking.
While they were doing their thing I got started on making those ghost truffles. These truffles are made from chocolate cake crumbs and the cinnamon-infused dark chocolate ganache seen here. These, like usual, were made from a bunch of leftover I had so I don’t have exact quantities for you. But exact quantities seldom produce the best truffles. For instructions on how to make these, check out this post.
Once your truffles are formed, dip a lollypop stick in melted chocolate and push it into the truffle. For half of them I also used Pocky sticks to make little arms.
I then coated them in a thin layer of white chocolate, but apparently neglected to photograph that part. Once they’re dry, which won;t be long, you can start on making the ghosts’ little sheets. I used a fluted circular cutter to cut a round of fondant. I marked the middle using the truffle before inverting it all.
Once the little sugar sheet is draped over it you can work it smoothing the sides down. If he has little arms then make sure you smooth it down around those, too, so they’re nice and distinct.
Give the fondant some time to dry. It was quite a cold day here so it only took half an hour for them to firm up for me, if it’s a warmer day it’ll take longer. When they’re dry you can draw on the faces using an edible ink marker. Alternatively, use a brush and food dye. You can even just use a toothpick and food dye to paint the features on.
While I waited for them I started on the buttercream. Buttercream is really simple. Start out with room temperature butter and beat it until it’s smooth and creamy. Then you work in the icing sugar.
I opted for a cinnamon buttercream to compliment the spices in the cake. I also really love cinnamon. You may have noticed. To make in cinnamonny I beat in some ground cinnamon at the end.
To run with the Halloween theme I divided it into two lots and coloured one orange and one black. If you use gel colouring you’ll get a deep black really fast. Don’t worry if it seems to get stick on a dark grey or charcoal. Remember that, as it sits, it will deepen in colour so don’t feel the need to take it to jet black right away.
To get the dual-coloured effect, a lot of cake decorating books will tell you just to divvy up the icing in the bag so that it’s half-half. The problem with this is you lack a lot of control, and towards the end of the bag you just get a lot of colours bleeding and mixing. If you’re using black, this is especially the case. Here’s a quick tute on how I get this effect. I’ll be doing a much longer tute in future showing all kind of ways to get various multi-coloured piping effects, but for now this will show you how to get a simple dual-coloured effect without bleeding colours. Note that what piping tip you use and how you hold the bag will alter the final effect.
When you’re done you’ll have something like this.
I gave it a moment to stiffen, then shoved the ghosts into the cakes. Soon I had a little army of ghosts.
Delicious edible chocolate cinnamon ghosts.
The pumpkin cupcakes were amazing. I saved half the batch for ghosts and said the family could let loose on the other six. They were perfect fresh out of the oven. I’m a total icing lover and cupcakes without icing usually make me sad. But these certainly aren’t bland without it. Cam spent most of the afternoon trying to talk himself out of eating another and failing. That said, they’re also amazing with icing as well.
|Ghostly Pumpkin Cupcakes
195g (7oz) plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground all spice
(alternatively use 1 tablespoon of pumpkin spice mix, if you have it)
1/2 tsp salt
115g (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
200g (7oz) caster sugar
2 free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
180g (6.3 oz) pumpkin puree
12 chocolate truffles
12 lollipop sticks
Pocky or pretzel sticks
200g (7 oz) white chocolate, melted
200g (7 oz) fondant or marzipan
edible ink markers or black food colouring
125g (4 oz) buttercream, room temperature
1 tbsp (20ml) milk
375g (12oz) icing sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
orange and black food colouring
- Line a standard 12 hole cupcake tin with paper cases. Pre-heat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced/350°F).
- Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
- Beat the butter and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla.
- Fold the flour mixture and pumpkin puree, alternatively, a third at a time into the butter mixture until just combined.
- Divide the batter amongst the paper cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cakes spring back when lightly touched.
- Allow to cool inside the tray for 10 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Allow the truffles to sit in the fridge while you melt the white chocolate.
- Dip one end of the lollypop stick into the white chocolate, then push it inside the truffle, being careful not to push it all the way through.
- Cut the pocky sticks into 1-2cm lengths. Dip them in chocolate and push them into adjacent sides of the truffle for arms. Set it aside and continue with the other 12.
- Dip the truffles in the remaining white chocolate to coat, and set aside to dry.
- When ready, knead the fondant so it is soft and pliable. Keep it covered in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry.
- Pinch off a little fondant at a time, and roll it out on a work surface dusted with cornflour (cornstarch) until it is a few millimetres thick. Use a fluted circular cutter to cut a round of fondant. Drape it over the truffle and smooth down around the head and sides. If your fondant isn’t adhering to your truffle, brush the truffle with a sugar syrup before applying the fondant (this shouldn’t be necessary as the weight and shape of it will keep it in place).
- Leave the truffles for 30 minutes to and hour to dry. Once the fondant has hardened you can draw on the ghost faces.
- Beat the butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffly; beat in the milk.
- Beat in the icing sugar, a little at a time, until it is all combined.
- Beat in the cinnamon.
- Divide the buttercream into two and place half in a separate bowl. Tint one half orange and the other black.
- Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes; sprinkle with Halloween-themed sprinkles if using. Leave it a few moments to stiffen, then push sticks of the ghost truffles into the centre of the cupcakes.