Whole-Grain Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

I seriously debated presenting any pumpkin recipes in this blog. After all, the ubiquitous vegetable is certainly not lacking in publicity these days; it’s whirled into spiced lattes, nestled in ravioli, whipped into silken soups. I hesitated jumping on the pumpkin bandwagon, concerned that adding yet another pumpkin recipe to the vast collection may only serve to encourage the banality of the season’s trendiest, must-eat food.

The problem is, I really love pumpkin. And though it may be slightly annoying to see pumpkin “something” everywhere I turn, I still embrace the short period of its peak, trying to find new and exciting ways to incorporate it into my meals. Thus, it seemed only natural that I would share one of these recipes with you. And with Halloween just around the corner, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate time.

Pumpkin is full of nutrients and is also very high in fiber and low in calories. Its bright orange flesh is a telltale sign of its high beta-carotene content, which is a primary source of vitamin A. Vitamin A supports the formation and maintenance of healthy skin cells, teeth, bones, and tissues, and is essential for promoting strong vision. Furthermore, pumpkin is a bountiful source of trace minerals, even rivaling bananas in their potassium content.

These ultra-moist cupcakes combine the warm spices commonly associated with pumpkin pie and are made extra decadent by the addition of a silky cream cheese icing, accented with just the right touch of sweetness from mineral-rich maple syrup. For an even more sinful treat, try making them with bacon fat. I promise, you won’t be sorry.

Ingredients

Makes 12 cupcakes
Cupcakes
2 cups whole wheat, whole spelt, whole wheat pastry, or sprouted whole wheat flour (I used the latter)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups fresh or canned pumpkin puree (See instructions below for preparing fresh pumpkin)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut or rapadura sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cup melted butter, coconut oil, or bacon fat
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup cream cheese
1/3-1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup, depending on how sweet you like it
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional garnish
Chopped nuts, cooked crumbled bacon, chocolate shavings
Special equipment: paper muffin cups, pastry bag with a star tip

Preparation

1. If using fresh pumpkin, cut pumpkin in half (I use smaller, pie pumpkins) and scoop out seeds. Bake halves skin side up in a 350 F oven until flesh is soft to the touch, about 40–50 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool to room temperature. Remove flesh from shell, and place in the bowl of a food processor. Blend pumpkin, adding a little water if necessary (some pumpkins are drier than others) until mixture is completely smooth and the texture of loose applesauce. Proceed with recipe, refrigerating or freezing any leftover puree for another recipe.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with paper cups. Set aside.

3. Combine dry ingredients for cupcakes in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, sugar, honey, vanilla, and melted butter/fat. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, and whisk just until combined, being careful not to over mix. Divide evenly among 12 muffin cups. Bake at 350 F until center of cakes spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, approximately 25–30 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool in the muffin pan on a wire rack for 10–15 minutes, then carefully remove each cupcake from the pan and let cool to room temperature before icing.

4. Prepare icing: Cream butter and cream cheese together, until very fluffy and creamy, using an electric mixer, stand mixer, or food processor. Add maple syrup, to taste, and vanilla. Whip to incorporate fully. Top each cupcake with a good dose of icing, using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, or using a knife. If desired, top each cupcake with chopped nuts or other garnish. Refrigerate until firm.

For more on whole grain baking and recipes, check out the following books:

Super Breakfast Cereals: Whole Grains for Good Health and Great Taste

AUTHOR’S NOTE

To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
·chemical-  and hormone-free meat
·wild-caught fish
·pastured-raised, organic eggs
·whole, unrefined grains
·virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
·whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
·pure, clean, spring water
·sea salt
·raw and/or cultured milk and cream products

Briana Goodall, CPC

Briana Goodall is Chef and Owner of Green Cuisine Personal Chef Service. Visit her website at www.mygreencuisine.com.

Related Topics

healthy recipes | whole food nutrition

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