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Easy Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

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Autumn is Andy’s and my favorite season. Is it your favorite season too?

If you are ready for your house to smell like autumn, now is a good time to make these pumpkin chocolate-chip cupcakes. I found this recipe in our church’s cookbook, and I added chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Cake
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup cooking oil
2 cups canned pumpkin
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
chocolate chips (optional)

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Mix cake ingredients together until well blended. Fill cupcake papers halfway with batter. Sprinkle a handful of chocolate chips in the batter. 

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Top with another scoop of batter. 

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Bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes for cupcakes, 35-40 minutes for 13×9 inch pan.

*Tip: How do you know when the cake is done baking? When the top of the cake or cupcake bounces back when you touch it, the cake is ready. If it looks done but the top sinks in when you touch it, give it a few more minutes and check it again.

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*Another Tip: If the bottom of your cake burns before the cake is done, your oven is too hot. Try getting an oven thermometer to keep inside your oven to make sure your gage is correctly set. I got my oven thermometer at Smart and Final for around five dollars.

Pretty Cream Cheese Icing
One pound (one box) powdered sugar
½ cup (one stick) butter, softened
8 oz. (one package) of cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla

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Beat cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla together until well blended. Ice the cake when it is cool. Store in the refrigerator.

 Using a large 18-inch pastry bag and a large icing tip to make fancy cupcakes is easy and quick. My bag is plastic coated, made by Ateco. It washes well in  warm soapy water and has lasted over a decade. The tip I used was number 828, also made by Ateco.

icing-tip-828

The first time you use the bag, cut the tip of the bag just enough to let the tip slide through and hold tight (about 1/2 inch). If desired, use the plastic piece that holds the tip secure. I think it’s called a coupler. Fold down the sides of the bag so you can comfortably fill it with scoops of icing. Put all your icing in the bag. Try not to let air bubbles get in between the scoops. Fold, roll or twist the top of the icing bag down until the icing is pushed down into the tip and starts to come out of the tip. Be careful that the tip is secure.

I like to pipe the icing by starting in the middle of the cupcake and then going around in a circle and ending in the middle again. Let go of the pressure of the bag before you lift it away from the cupcake.

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Pretty!

I put this icing on all my cakes and cupcakes. It holds its shape well, but you can add an extra Tablespoon of powdered sugar and/or refrigerate it for twenty minutes if you want it to hold better.

Add a sprinkle of nutmeg to the top for the finishing touch.

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Let me know how yours turn out.

What is your favorite autumn dessert? Please share!

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How To: Easy Chocolate Covered Strawberries

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Chocolate covered strawberries are one of my favorite treats.

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Have you made it through the summer without eating chocolate dipped strawberries? I hope not! Dipped strawberries are so delicious and easy to make. And if you give them to your kids for a sort-of healthy dessert after a family dinner, they will not complain!

You can easily make these beautiful and delicious treats for a wedding favor, or serve them at a bridal shower, baby shower, birthday party, or even for dessert for your family tonight.

 Here are some tips I learned while working at Aunt Joy’s Cakes, owned by legendary actress Joy Harmon (the sexy car washing girl in Cool Hand Luke.) She and her daughters are sweethearts, and when I worked at Aunt Joy’s making desserts for the studios, they trained me well.

Step 1: Soak strawberries
Step 2: Set them out to dry
Step 3: Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or wax paper
Step 4: Melt chocolate
Step 5: Dip berries in chocolate and place them on the cookie sheet
Step 6: Put them in the refrigerator
Optional: Decorate with white chocolate drizzle
Enjoy!

 You will need:

Ten medium to large strawberries
4 ounces of any kind of dark chocolate (more for dipping extra goodies) 
You can use milk chocolate but it is finicky so just use dark chocolate
 Supplies:
Paper towels or dish towels to dry berries
Parchment or wax paper
Cookie sheet (large plate or baking pan is fine too)
Microwave-safe bowl
 

Optional

To decorate the berries you will need:
White chocolate, milk chocolate, or more dark chocolate
Icing bag
Tip for icing, size 1 or 2
Cooking oil

 

 Step 1: Soak strawberries

Wash the strawberries by placing them in a bowl of cool water. Let them soak for five to ten minutes. This will brighten their color and perk up the green leaves.

 

Step 2: Set them out to dry

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Arrange towels on the counter and set the berries in rows. Have you ever noticed that there is one side that sits more red and pretty? Set each berry with the pretty side up. Pat the berries dry.

 

Step 3: Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper or wax paper

Make some room in your refrigerator to fit the cookie sheet while the chocolate cools.

Important: Don’t start dipping in chocolate until the strawberries are completely dry.

Drops of water will make the chocolate hard or lumpy. You can dry the strawberries one by one if you need to.

 

Step 4: Melt chocolate

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I like to use Royal Dark by Cadbury (about $1.50 for 3.5 ounces) or Trader Joe’s massive bar of Belgium Chocolate (about $5 for over 16 ounces).

You can add 1/2 teaspoon cooking oil to the chocolate to make it easier to work with

You can add 1/2 teaspoon cooking oil to the chocolate to make it easier to work with

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Place dark chocolate in bowl and microwave for only 20 or 30 seconds. Stir chocolate. Microwave for another 20 seconds. Stir until smooth. If needed, microwave for another 10-15 seconds and stir. Repeat if you need to, but be careful because it might burn.

 

Step 5: Dip berries in chocolate and place them on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet

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Hold the green leaves and dip diagonally so you have a somewhat diagonal line. I like to dip about halfway, or I try to just leave enough red to keep it pretty. Set each berry about an inch apart on the parchment paper.

 

 Step 6: Put dipped berries in the refrigerator

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This is important for the chocolate to cool quickly. If you let it sit out, the chocolate might bloom, which is the word for that light brownish film that chocolate sometimes gets. It makes the chocolate look old, but really it just means the chocolate has been heated and cooled, or un-tempered. Do not put them in the freezer or the berries will get mushy.

 Chocolate-covered strawberries are best the same day they are dipped. If you are making these for a party or shower, give yourself some time to make them the morning of the event.

 

 

 Optional Drizzle:

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Prepare your icing bag by cutting off the tip of the bag and securing the metal tip through the hole. If the plastic is too flimsy, the tip may fall out and make a white chocolate mess (which has happened to me a few times!) You can get disposable icing bags at Michael’s or other cake supply stores. I got my icing bags and decorating tips at Jane’s Cake and Chocolate Supply in La Canada.

 I like to use white chocolate chips to make this really easy and really pretty drizzle. You can also use more dark chocolate or milk chocolate instead.

Place white chocolate in a clean bowl with ½ teaspoon cooking oil. Microwave for 20-30 seconds and stir. Repeat if needed until the white chocolate is smooth. The oil is great for thinning the white chocolate, but don’t add too much or it will get runny. Try adding more oil or more white chocolate to get a good consistency for drizzling. Don’t worry, you won’t taste the oil.

 Spoon the melted white chocolate into your icing bag. Get the air bubbles out by pushing the white chocolate down into the tip.

 Take your tray of berries out of the refrigerator. If the chocolate is hard, they are ready for decorating.

Drizzle the white chocolate back and forth across each berry, following the diagonal line of the dark chocolate. Or write your initial or make another design of your choice.

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Put the berries back in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve them!

 Presentation is everything, right?

Put each strawberry in a white cupcake paper and arrange them on a platter lined with a large doily. Or arrange them on a serving platter of your choice. Enjoy!

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 I recently made these berries for a friend’s bridal shower.

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 Lovely and delicious!

What should I do with this extra melted chocolate, you ask? Try dipping these delights:

 Raisins
Dried apricots
Dried peaches
Almonds, peanuts, or macademia nuts
Fig Newtons
Sliced Pineapple
Apple slices
Banana slices
Sunflower seeds
Oatmeal cookies
Chocolate chip cookies
Oreos
Marshmallows
Rice Krispy treats
Or your favorite cookie

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Make yourself at home! Write a comment!

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