Pumpkins and Peanuts

November 1, 2007

Yet another self-indulgent post here . . . for three reasons:

1) My daughter is turning turned one (ONE!) on Tuesday and we had her party this past weekend, with loved ones mingling and toasting and sipping pink champagne. I swear, when we all broke out into Happy Birthday, Noe clapped her hands and got this look on her face that said, “oh wait a second, you mean you’re really all here for ME?” It was precious. 

2) I baked cupcakes. Pumpkin spice cupcakes with caramel cream cheese frosting to be exact (you may have skidded to a halt in shock after reading “I baked,” so let me just restate . . . I . . . baked . . . cupcakes)—and they turned out FABULOUS. 


3) We dressed Noe up as a peanut for Halloween and paraded her about our cozy little town with all the adorable kiddos trick-or-treating from shop to shop (naughty mommy and daddy even filched a Snickers bar) and she was so dang cute I had to share.


So consider this an “isn’t life grand?” post. Can’t get the smile off my face . . .

{ Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting }

I had the combo of pumpkin cake and caramel-cream cheese frosting in mind and scoured the internet for recipes, bound and determined as I was to actually follow a recipe. I even gave my friend Julie free reign to smack my hand if I so much as uttered a “but what if we . . .” In the end, I went with pumpkin spice cupcakes from Martha Stewart Living, and a caramel-cream cheese frosting from Cottage Living. (Nicole, as much as I wanted to make your double chocolate pumpkin cupcakes, we thought these might pair better with champagne . . . so I’ll just have to make yours for the next party and serve red wine!)

{ Cupcakes }

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

{ Frosting }

1/4 cup light brown sugar
10 tablespoons butter, divided
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

Melt brown sugar and 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium heat; remove from heat. Whisk in cream; blend well. Transfer to a heat-resistant bowl. Cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Place remaining 6 tablespoons butter and cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla and salt. With mixer running, slowly pour in cooled brown sugar mixture; beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar gradually, beating well after each addition until completely smooth. Chill slightly for a firmer texture, stirring occasionally.

PS — I also made a mix of the spices used in the cupcakes, added a bit of salt and olive oil, and tossed it with almonds and pumpkin seeds (separately) and roasted them at 350 until they were nice and toasty and crisp. Then I cooled them and mixed them together and served them as a little nibbly before the cupcakes. It was kind of cool to have the spice theme play throughout the party.

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21 Responses to “Pumpkins and Peanuts”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    Lia – what a sweet little girl and a very cute costume. My 2 younger children are redheads and so saw their fair share of pumpkin costumes. The cupcakes sound great – almost like carrot cake, which I love. Happy Birthday to dear Noe! steph

  2. Isabelle Says:

    Joyeux anniversaire a Noe! Et merci pour la recette de cupcake.

  3. Katie Says:

    What a darling little peanut! And a whole year!
    Those cupcakes – spice and caramel frosting… for a non-baker you did truly, marvelously, well..

  4. Stephanie . . . You called it! It is a riff on carrot cake. Carrot cake is my husband’s favorite (and just about the only cake I can make successfully consistently) and he was lobbying for CCC. But I’d just made a layered carrot cake for HIS birthday in October and we still have a good portion of it in the freezer. So I was determined to push the boundaries a bit.

    Isabelle . . . Merci bien! Et je vous en prie pour la recette. J’espere qu’elle vous plaite! (ugh . . . my French is slipping! I think I really need a visit to make sure I don’t lose it . . . )

    Katie . . . Thank you! I have to say, I was way proud of myself for the little swirls :-).

  5. Stephanie Says:

    Oh dear – you posted the recipe. 🙂 steph

  6. foodette Says:

    Congrats to Noe on the big 0-1! What a fabulous celebration, and with a mom who can make such wonderful cupcakes, I am sure they will be plenty more to come. She is adorable!

  7. Kevin Says:

    The pumpkin and spice cupcakes sound really good. I really like the sound of the caramel cream cheese frosting!

  8. Robin Says:

    Happy birthday sweet girl, and what a lucky girl you are to get such delicious sounding cupcakes!

  9. Julie Says:

    Lia, it was a precious celebration of home made cupcakes and bubbly! The pumpkin spice cupcakes were a perfect fall choice for a one year birthday party! Although you lean naturally towards “chef” you DO have a little “baker” in you as well!

  10. lia Says:

    foodette & Robin . . . Thank you! I’ll pass on your congrats to the little peanut :-).

    Kevin . . . That frosting IS good. And the best part is the recipe doesn’t have you make “real” caramel (which I inevitably ruin multiple pots doing), yet the frosting definitely has a caramel richness to it.

    Julie . . . My dear BFFD (best friend from Denver). THANK you for being here for the celebration! We’ve got another one today–Noe’s actual b’day–at Cyndi’s (and I’m bringing the leftover cupcakes!). I’ll try not to blow out the candle this time ;-).

  11. Robyn Says:

    Happy birthday to Noe! May the coming year grant you many pleasures, surprises and happiness.

  12. jo Says:

    How utterly gorgeous is she? Hippy, happy, hoppy birthday Noe! And those cupcakes sound yum.

  13. lia Says:

    Robyn and Jo . . . Many thanks from Noe!!! And her Mama too . . .

  14. agent0068 Says:

    Happy birthday and a delicious sounding way to celebrate

  15. izzy's mama Says:

    What a wonderful day! I am so glad that you went through with it. You will have those memories to share with her as time goes on. And maybe a cupcake making tradition as well. The question is..Did Noe eat one??

  16. lia Says:

    Hi izzy’s mama! I’ve been meaning to stop by and tell you all about the cupcake success! (Izzy’s mama is the one who said, “are you kidding, you HAVE to bake a cake for your daughter’s first birthday party!” when I was contemplating just buying one on izzy’s mama’s blog. She was also the brilliant one who suggested cupcakes.) The whole pumpkin theme felt just perfect, and several people did suggest that it might just have to become a tradition. And in answer to your question . . . Noe DEVOURED an entire cupcake! Started with the frosting (with a “what is THIS?” kind of look on her face) and then moved on to the cake. It was just precious. So thank you, again, for being the inspiration behind a new family tradition!

  17. Rosemary in Utah Says:

    Adorable (and adored, I’m sure!) It’s so nice that from now on you’ll have the *whole* (grand) year with her between birthdays.

  18. Stephanie Says:

    Lia – is there a place here that tells the story of Noe? I’m fascinated by the adoption process and if you’ve written more about it, I’d enjoy reading about your experience. I’ve read when you flew to get her – but the process prior? I’ve been to Vietnam twice on medical missions and adore the kids and my husband keeps saying that our 6 y.o. will soon be an only child when our 18 y.o. leaves for college. (hint hint honey) 🙂 steph

  19. NotSoSage Says:

    What an excellent costume! Who could stop smiling?!

  20. lia Says:

    Rosemary . . . You are SO right! It’s like we still have a whole year of “firsts” ahead for us. 🙂

    Stephanie . . . Aren’t husbands funny with their hints? Christopher is already doing that about a second. I actually did chronicle our full adoption journey on a blog (Funny enough, it was my first blogging endeavor and I began it on a whim, thinking it would be a great way for friends and family to keep track of our progress. And it was, I’ve had several people comment how they felt like they were walking right beside us as we moved along on our journey.) You’re welcome to check it out at http://huberadoption.blogspot.com . I’ll be curious to hear where you end up with Vietnam!

    NotSoSage . . . So cute . . . I STILL haven’t stopped smiling!

  21. chocolateshavings Says:

    Those cupcakes sound delicious – what a great flavor combo! And the peanut outfit is just too cute.
    I’m glad I found your site!


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