30 October 2011

Happy Hallowe'en: Chocochocochip pumpkin cupcakes with orange cream cheese icing

Happy Hallowe'en to all ghosties and ghoulies, big and little alike.

Regardless of what you think of the day and how it's evolved into from its long-past roots, I think it's a day where we can have a little fun, let our alter egos become our real egos and...of course...eat chocolates and cakes and cookies.

As if I need an excuse to eat chocolate and cakes and cookies.

As if I need an excuse to wear my tiara...or my red sequinned devil horns...or my bumblebee wings.

I thought of doing something on the spooky side like these witch finger cookies but I really couldn't think of anything truly gross or spine tingling to make.

Since it's autumn, and I can't let an unopened can of pumpkin puree remain unopened...and it seems my chocolate tooth has come back in full force. I was highly unimaginative and resorted to a cupcake default. Double chocolate pumpkin cupcakes, to be precise.

My screen flickered with several recipes for chocolate sour cream cakes and chocolate pumpkin cakes, and from those I came up with this one.

I think it's a rather deceptive little cupcake. On the surface it looks like a chocolate cupcake. Then you bite into it and the pumpkin with its spices add warm and earthy notes to their chocolate partner. Then you get an extra burst of chocolate from the studs of chocolate chips that lie within.

I don't think these cupcakes need icing, but I whipped up some orange cream cheese icing and swooshed a little on top of the cooled cakes.

Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
Yield: 24
Inspired by recipes by Anna Olson, allrecipes.com, Country Living, Adventures in Cooking, and Life's Ambrosia

100ml (0.33c + 1Tbsp) sour cream
90g (100ml/0.33c + 1Tbsp) pureed pumpkin
55g (155ml/0.5c+2Tbsp) cocoa
125ml (0.5c) boiling water
0.25tsp (1.25ml) ground allspice
0.25tsp (1.25ml) ground cloves
0.25tsp (1.25ml) ground cardamom
0.25tsp (1.25ml) salt
260g (500ml/2c) cake flour
1tsp (5ml) bicarbonate of soda
0.25tsp (1.25ml) baking powder
60ml (0.25c) flavourless oil
55g (60ml/0.25c/4Tbsp) softened butter
100g (125ml/0.5c) brown sugar
200g (250ml/1c) white sugar
2 eggs
180g (250ml/1c) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line two 12-bowled muffin trays with papers.

Mix together the sour cream, pumpkin, cocoa, boiling water, spices and salt. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift together the flour, bicarb and baking powder. Set aside.

Combine the oil and butter and mix well. Tip in both sugars and beat for a few minutes, until light and fluffy. Incorporate eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Scrape down the bowl

Add the dry and wet ingredients in the usual alternating way (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry), again scraping the bowl down between each addition. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Divide equally between the papered bowls. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out relatively cleanly, with a few crumbs clinging to the wood.

Allow to cool completely before icing.


- Don't use pumpkin pie filling
- If you want, you can play with the spicing--take away some or add cinnamon or nutmeg

Orange Cream Cheese Icing
Adapted from The Sweet Melissa baking Book (Carrot Cake with Fresh Orange Cream Cheese Frosting).

125g (approx 4oz/0.5 regular container) softened cream cheese
75g (85ml/0.33c/5Tbps +0.5tsp) softened butter
85g (170ml/0.66c) icing sugar, sifted
minced zest of one orange
0.5tsp (2.5ml) vanilla extract

Beat together the cream cheese, butter and zest. If your icing sugar isn't of the mindset to explode into a cloud when introduced to your mixer's beaters, incorporate the sugar in three additions, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla.


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23 October 2011

Pumpkin scones

I find it amazing how hyperpriced, underqualitied and overroasted beans can set the standard for coffee. Now it seems that purveyor sets the standard for pastries too.

As you can tell, I'm not their fan.

Time and time again I've heard people wax lyrical about said purveyor's red velvet cake and recently their cakepops. At this time of year, it seems as if their pumpkin scones have won lauds and honours from those accustomed to their wares.

I tried one. I found it absolutely amazing that a lead-like pastry coffined by icing so thick, that it bore more of a resemblance to an oversized Trivial Pursuit wedgie, could be as dry as sawdust.

This is considered to be an amazing scone? I'll just chalk that up with other opinions like Chef Boyardee is the best Italian food (yes, said by a guy I used to date), Combo Number 3B at that restaurant around the corner that gives you free fried rice with orders that cost more than $15 is what people really eat in China (unless you are in China and the resto around the corner really does have a Combo Number 3B), and edible oil products are just as tasty as real cheese or actual whipped cream.

Part of the issue is, I think, this obsession with encasing every baked good in icing. Cookies, cakes, cupcakes, muffins and scones. Heck...I wouldn't be surprised if pies and tarts get the frosted over. Oh wait...certain commercial Bakewell tarts have fallen victim.

It's gotten to the point that I think people honestly believe that a thick slathering of icing sugar held together by butter/ margarine/ shortening/ water/ lemon juice/ stuff I don't want to think about will absolve all evils of the baked good it smothers.

No. No it doesn't.

I fully realise we all have different ideas as to what a scone should be like--heck, people can't agree how to pronounce the word--but I'm of the belief that a scone should be light, tender, abundant with nooks and crannies to nestle in clotted cream, jam or butter...and uniced.

I also think its pronunciation should rhyme with "lawn" as opposed to "loan."

Maybe that's the other problem... Maybe what the ubiquitous coffee shop sells is a scone-rhymes-with-loan (would explain the price), and I'm looking for a scone-rhymes-with-lawn (heck, I have no airs...I'll eat my scone on a lawn).

With about a third of a cup of leftover pumpkin puree, from Thanksgiving baking, I decided to make some pumpkin scones-rhymes-with lawns. After looking at about half a dozen recipes, and referring to my favourite one by Tamasin Day-Lewis, I came up with this one.

I'm quite happy with these scones. They come together easily, are tender, lightly pumpkinny and not cloyingly sweet. Perfect warm with a bit of butter.

Pumpkin Scones

adapted from recipes by Tamasin Day-Lewis, Shoebox Kitchen, Baking and Books, Eggs on Sunday and Pinch My Salt

Yield 12 (with a 6.25cm/2.5" cutter)

100ml (0.33c+1Tbsp) yoghurt
75g (0.33c/85ml) pureed pumpkin
1Tbps (15ml) cream of tartar
0.5tsp (2.5ml) cinnamon
0.5tsp (2.5ml) ground ginger
0.25tsp (1.25ml) ground cardamom
0.25ml (1.25ml) ground cloves
0.25tsp (1.25ml) ground nutmeg
280g (2c/500ml) all purpose flour
1.25tsp (6.25ml) bicarbonate of soda
0.25tsp (1.25ml) salt
65g (0.33 c/85ml) sugar
55g (0.25c/60ml) very cold or frozen butter
50g (0.33c/85ml) dried cranberries
25g (0.25c/60ml) walnut pieces

milk, cream or eggwash
sugar or demerara sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 200C/400F and line a baking tray with parchment or tin foil.

Mix together the yoghurt, pumpkin, cream of tartar and spices. Set aside.

Sift together the flour with the bicarb, then mix in the sugar and salt. Grate in the butter. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like a combination of coarse bread crumbs with some pieces the size of small peas.

Quickly fold in the yoghurty mixture and lightly knead into a soft spongey dough. Incorporate the fruit and nuts.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1.25cm (0.5") thickness and cut into rounds. Remove to the lined baking tray and let rise for 10 minutes

Brush the tops with milk, cream, or an egg wash made of an egg beaten with water and sprinkle the top with a little granulated or demerara sugar.

Bake for 8-12 minutes. The scones will have risen, the bottoms will be a medium golden and the sides will have firmed a bit.


  • Don't use pumpkin pie filling
  • If you don't have all the spices, change them as you will, or simply use 1.75tsp of pumpkin pie spice (though I'm not entirely sure what's in it)
  • Omit the fruit and/or nuts, or use what you think will work nicely
  • Of course...the number of scones you'll get is dependent upon the size of cutter you use.

I'm a quill for hire!

10 October 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! Double Chocolate Whisky'd Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians.

I know I've been remiss in posting my foodie adventures (and yes, there have been some), but *gasp* I've been going out! and having fun!

More about that later.

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Yes. Canada celebrates Thanksgiving. We've been doing so since 1578 when the English explorer Martin Frobisher was absolutely thrilled he didn't become a popsicle while searching for the NorthWest passage. About 30 years later Samuel de Champlain (the foodie he was) and his French settlers initiated their own feasts of thanks.

My Dear Little Cardamummy has quite a fondness for pumpkin pie. It's not really Thanksgiving unless there's a pumpkin pie on the table. My Big Strong Cardapoppy on the other hand, calls all pies "apple pies" (including cherry, pumpkin and banana creme) and, from what I've gathered, isn't too fussed on what the sweet is. He just wants a 10kg/22lb turkey on the table (did I mention it's usually just three or four of us for lunch?). Yes, really.

Needless to say, after a certain amount of negotiation and some consternation, I won the dessert battle (really, Mum store bought pie?) and I was allowed to bring in dessert.

I immediately cottoned onto the idea of a chocolate pumpkin pie. I checked my library to see what there was--a number of pumpkin pies, but no chocolate pumpkin pies. My online search basically came back with three recipes, and their permutations reposted over and over and over again. None of them truly excited me, so I put on my apron and started playing.

The finished result was this pie--chocolatey but not overpowering the pumpkin, laced with warming spices that remind me of both falling leaves and crunching snow. Underneath it all is a deeper warmth carried by whisky and vanilla.

Double Chocolate Whisky'd Pumpkin Pie
Adapted from recipes by Edna Staeber, Martha Stewart, Baking Bites and Dreena's Vegan Recipes.

Yield: one 9" pie (1.75" deep)


For the crust
170g (1c+3Tbsp /295ml) all purpose flour
20g (4Tbsp/60ml) cocoa
25g (4Tbsp/60ml) sugar
0.25tsp (1.25ml) salt
85g (6Tbsp/90ml) very cold (if not frozen) unsalted butter
2 egg yolks, beaten
0.5tsp (2.5ml) vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp (15-30ml) ice water

For the filling:
28g (2Tbsp/30ml) unsalted butter
70g (0.33c/85ml) semi sweet chocolate chips
2Tbsp (30ml) heavy cream
0.5tsp (2.5ml) cinnamon
0.25tsp (1.25ml) ground cardamom seeds
0.125tsp/ 1/8tsp (0.6ml) ground cloves
0.125tsp/ 1/8tsp (0.6ml) nutmeg
pinch salt
135g (0.66c/170ml) brown sugar
280g (1.25c/310ml) pureed pumpkin
2 eggs3-4Tbsp (45-60ml) whisky (see notes)
1tsp (5ml) vanilla extract

Serve with any of the following, if desired
Whipped cream/Chantilly cream
Ice cream
Icing sugar

For the crust

Sift together the flour, cocoa, sugar and salt. Grate in the butter with the large holes on a box grater, then rub in the butter into the dry ingredients, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the beaten egg and vanilla then dribble in enough water so the dough comes together but is not wet or tacky. Form the dough into a disk and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 300F/160C. Lightly butter a pie tin that's 9" wide and 1.75" deep (approx 22cm wide, 4.25-4.5cm deep).

Line the pie tin with the dough that's been rolled out to approx 0.5cm (0.25") thickness. trim the edges and crimp the crust as you see fit. Dock the bottom and sides of the crust by piercing the dough with a fork's tines--I do this until it reminds me of my dentist's acoustical tiles. Line the crust with tin foil and then weight it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, take the foil and the weights off and let cool as you make the filling.

For the filling:
Preheat oven to 375F/190C.

Melt the butter until slightly foamy. If you're doing this on the stovetop, turn off the hob and add the chocolate chips. Stir until smooth. Add the cream, spices and salt and stir until smooth. Mix in the brown sugar. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin eggs, whisky and vanilla, until well mixed. Fold in the slightly cooled chocolate mixture and mix until you cannot see streaks of orange or brown. Pour evenly into the cooled crust and smooth the top. Bake for 40-55 minutes. The filling will be set and an inserted skewer will come out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely.Serve with whatever accompaniment (or none at all) you wish


  • You don't have to make the chocolate shortcrust if you don't want to. A regular shortcrust or graham wafer crust will be fine (but then it would simply be a Whisky'd Chocolate Pumpkin Pie...nothing wrong with that).
  • Do not use pumpkin pie filling. Goodness knows what's in that stuff.
  • Whisky. I suppose it's optional, but it's Thanksgiving (or Christmas, or whatever occasion that warrants pie). You may feel better with a few drams of whisky.
  • More about whisky. I'm Canadian, so I use rye/Canadian whisky. You can use what you have on hand (even if it means bourbon, scotch or Irish whisky). If you don't have whisky in the house, use brandy, rum, cognac or creme de cacao (or whatever else you think may work) :)...I welcome any and every effort to make this pie happier

I'm a quill for hire!