Pumpkin Cupcakes with Penuche Frosting, GF/DF/EF


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I was going through my grandma’s old recipes the other day, and it brought back quite a few memories.   I remember the many holidays spent at her house as well as the time spent making brownies at cousin sleepovers at her house.  I also remember stopping by her house after school while on the way to piano lessons, and she would have a new dessert every time.   It was awesome.

She had quite a few recipes in her arsenal, but she also enjoyed trying new things.  She was an avid recipe clipper, and one of the funniest (and weirdest) recipes I came across in her recipe box was for an earthworm cake.

And I’m not talking gummi worms people (don’t worry, that’s one recipe you won’t see here).

This recipe for penuche frosting doesn’t really fall into either category.  It wasn’t one that I remember her making, and it wasn’t a clipping, but I really wanted to try it.  

Penuche FrostingI had never tried the penuche frosting before.  I’ve always been intrigued by in, in part because I was never sure how to pronounce it.  I’ve had penuche fudge before.  One bite and I got a sugar headache.  

Nevertheless, I wanted to try this frosting recipe of my grandma’s (and make it dairy-free of course).  It turned out perfect.  It still was pretty sweet, but also offered a more complex flavor than typical frostings.  Now I needed a cupcake to go with it.

Pumpkin or spice cake seemed like the logical choice.  The molasses that is a component of the brown sugar in the frosting would work perfectly with the flavor.  The thing with pumpkin cake is that they often seem to taste like a can.  This is remedied by cooking the pumpkin puree and spices for a few minutes.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Penuche Frosting and Candied Pumpkin Seeds
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Cupcake
  1. 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  2. 1 cup sorghum flour
  3. ½ cup potato starch
  4. ¼ cup tapioca starch
  5. 1-1/4 teaspoons xanthum gum
  6. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  7. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1 can pumpkin puree
  9. 1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (freshly ground if possible)
  10. ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  11. ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
  12. 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  13. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  14. ½ cup sugar
  15. ½ cup brown sugar
  16. 2/3 cup So Delicious coconut milk, unsweetened, mixed with 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  17. ¼ cup water
  18. 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  19. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Penuche Frosting
  1. 1/2 cup coconut oil
  2. 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  3. 1/4 cup So Delicious coconut milk, unsweetened
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 2 cups powdered sugar
Candied Pumpkin Seeds
  1. 1 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
  2. 1/3 cup sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  5. 2 tablespoons water
  6. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray muffin tin. In a medium bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, anthem gum, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, mix together pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 5-7 minutes until very fragrant, and darker. Mixture should be slightly reduced.
  3. Remove from heat and mix in brown sugar, white sugar, coconut milk (mixed with lemon juice), water, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk this into dry ingredients until combined. Fill muffin tins 3/4 of the way full with batter. Cook in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs (these cupcakes are very moist so there will be moist crumbs are okay).
Frosting
  1. In saucepan, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Carefully add milk (it will boil pretty vigorously). Remove from heat let cool until lukewarm. Using an electric mixer, beat in vanilla extract and powdered sugar. As the frosting cools from the mixing and air is incorporated, it will lighten in color (I've sped up the process before by putting pot over a bowl of ice).
Pumpkin Seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line a sheet pan with parchment or a silicon mat. In a bowl, mix sugar, vanilla, salt, and water. Stir in pumpkin seeds. Spread evenly over pan. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir seeds. Cook another 5-10 minutes, until seeds are browned.
Putting it together
  1. Frost cupcakes with a small amount of frosting (it is a sweet and flavorful frosting so you really don't want to put frosting on more than 1/4" thick). Top with candied pumpkin seeds.
One Fine Tomato http://onefinetomato.com/
The pumpkin seeds are purely optional, but I love to have a little crunch with these cupcakes.  And, hey, pumpkin seeds are high in omega-3 so it makes the cupcake healthy. Right?

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