Our entry is a half a dozen vegan chocolate pumpkin cupcakes, infused with pumpkin extract, and decorated to look like little pumpkins with vegan vanilla buttercream. This vegan chocolate base has been a go-to recipe for my family for years. We find it to yield cupcakes similar to GreenStar Food Co+op’s vegan chocolate.
Back in March, the Covid-19 pandemic led to a statewide shutdown and I work at a business that was deemed essential. We’re a small group of twelve (and some of us were even working from home) and within that first month there was a birthday. While we would normally order a cake from Wegmans, their bakery was closed for orders. I’ve always enjoyed baking, and I offered to make some cupcakes so that the first quarantine birthday wouldn’t have to be quite so sad.
Having only been to the grocery store once since shutdown, and not anticipating a lot of “fun” baking projects at the time, I ended up making a lot of substitutions for those chocolate cupcakes. They turned out very chocolatey and excellent, and there were no complaints besides the chilly weather while we ate cupcakes ten feet apart and bundled up outside in late March.
Here we are now, half a year later, and while the Wegmans bakery is open again, I’ve been enjoying the “excuse” to bake cupcakes. We celebrated another coworker’s birthday today (October 16), and he had raved about the carrot cake I had previously made. With that in mind, and a lot of carrots in the fridge, I decided to turn the cake recipe into cupcakes.
I made the batter with my usual adjustments and then baked four test cupcakes all half-filled and with a standard cupcake liner, no liner, no-stick spray and no liner, and a parchment paper muffin-esque liner. The cake bakes for 40-50 minutes, so I let the cupcakes go for 15, but they were still a little underdone. They were fully baked after 20 minutes, but the half-filled tins didn’t rise enough to look good. With this in mind, the final cupcakes were filled 2/3 of the way and baked for 22 minutes to accommodate the extra batter volume.
Knowing that I would likely also enter these for the competition, I decided to make some candied carrot curls to give the cupcakes a little extra flair. It was a success, but now I have to contend with accusations of favoritism among the coworkers. It’s fine now though, I told them about the contest and they think the solution is for you to hold a monthly cupcake competition—I’m sure you all won’t mind.
Thank you for holding your annual (it’s fine, they’ll get over it) cupcake contest to support mental health in the community. Mental health initiatives are so important, especially in college towns, and everything is better with cupcakes.
What can I say? The flavors of fall are upon us and what better way to enjoy them than with the perfect amount of autumn spice and apples from our beautiful local orchards. These cupcakes are moist and because the apples are grated you get the perfect amount in every bite. Combined with the sweetness of comforting flavors like nutmeg, brown sugar, and cinnamon. The texture is moist like the texture is moist and like banana bread but still maintaining its fluffy cupcake appeal.
Combine this with the sweet/salty balance from the caramel frosting and the buttery, sticky caramel sauce. It is sure to hit every note. I topped it with chopped nuts and a chopped milk chocolate caramel Ghirardelli bar for good measure. The pretzel was added as a final touch. Can you taste them?
My cupcake creation is an ode to the Ithaca Applefest. Oh, how I missed that annual event so very much this year but these are indeed unprecedented times. I wanted to incorporate all the flavors of the Applefest; fresh local apples, warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and pure maple syrup. How I wish you could smell and taste these luscious cupcakes! They would surely take you back to simpler times.
This recipe came from my grandmother’s carrot cake recipe that I changed into cupcakes. The frosting recipe is from my favorite professional baker Ina Garten. I learned how to make the rainbow design by watching a video online. My grandmother taught me how to bake and I hope to one day own my own bakery.