Sunday, October 21, 2012

Browned Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chai Frosting

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Over 20 years later, this famous quote from Ferris Bueller's Day Off still applies. A visit to my Alma Mater for the first time since I graduated reminded me that no matter how fast life seems to be moving, it is ALWAYS important to savor the moments and the people that can stop time. Browned Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chai Frosting are a pretty great treat to savor with your best friends... and that's just what I did with this batch!

Last weekend, in between cheering on the Wolverines for Homecoming and revisiting all of our favorite restaurants and bars, my friends and I made time to dance ridiculously, laugh our heads off and talk about absolutely everything that crossed our thoughts.

This weekend, a bar full of Boston's Michigan fans exploded in cheer at the end of the 4th quarter when Michigan scored the field goal that won us the game against Michigan State for the first time in 4 years! Much like I still can recall that moment of all-encompassing joy I felt last year when we beat Ohio State over Thanksgiving weekend, this is a moment of joy that will stay with me for years to come.

As the years pass, I won't remember the daily occurrences that took place between these two football Saturdays. The things I did at work, the dinners I made, even the desserts I baked would be forgotten (if not for this memory-keeping blog), but I will hold on to those time-stopping moments on either end.

And celebrate them with cupcakes whenever appropriate! ;-)

This weekend last year, I was sitting in my aunt and uncle's kitchen, watching the game in my pajamas and fighting disappointment over a losing score and over a baking "failure" when my Apple Cider Pie didn't set the way I expected.

This weekend two years ago, I was surrounded with friends and their friends, drinking an assortment of drinks, singing along to popular music and chanting "Go Blue" to passer-bys. No one had a job, no one had a direction as to where they were going and everyone had the time of their lives. If I could relive this gameday every year forever... I'd do it!

The thing is, we age and grow and develop into the people we were meant to be, but those moments of pure and complete joy will always be the ones that stand out and define our youth. For me, there is no greater moment than waking up on gameday with a smile knowing that I'm about to blast music to wake up my roommates and celebrate the day with all of my friends. It's something that I work to remember and relive all the time.

Just as life could pass you by if you don't take the time to look around once in a while, you could lose those life-defining moments if you don't stop to appreciate them. I like to appreciate my friends and good times (and bad times) with delicious treats whenever possible!

Browned Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chai Frosting (Recipe adapted from Willow Bird Baking)
Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes
  • 1 14 oz. can of pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake pan with liners
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook it, swirling occasionally, until it’s golden brown with a nutty aroma (about 5 minutes)
  • Remove browned butter from heat and pour it into a bowl to cool for about 15 minutes
  • Whisk or sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves in a small bowl 
  • In a separate, large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, milk, and cooled browned butter until well combined
  • Use a spatula to stir in the dry ingredients until just combined
  • Evenly distribute batter among prepared cupcake cups
  • Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with just a few crumbs, about 13-16 minutes
  • Let cakes cool completely before frosting 

Chai Frosting (Young Idealistic Baker original)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons instant Chai tea latte powder mix
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk (optional)
  • On medium speed, mix together butter and half of powdered sugar
  • Add flavors and remaining powdered sugar and optional tablespoons of milk until desired spreading or piping consistency is acquired
  • Pipe frosting on cupcakes in either small piped stars or swirls (note: little stars go much further and require less frosting than big swirls)

Happy Baking!

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