Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream & Fantasy Football

Have you ever noticed how often I start a post on this thing with an apology for not posting in an excessive amount of time?  I have.  It's annoying.  Anyway, sorry for not posting in a month!  I think that is the last apology you will get out of me because if you are reading this should be used to it by now, am I right?!  (Also, you are most likely a family member or friend who expects me to be late/ why should posts on my blog be any different?!).
Anyway, I'm playing fantasy football this year.  And my team (Lindsey and I) is totally kicking some major A$$! 
I don't know anything about football.  I know I like the Hawkeyes, I know some of the positions and some basic information like scoring and whatnot from my days of being a cheerleader...but I don't know ANYTHING about the NFL, and I'm being completely honest when I say I've never cared to learn.
This year, however, the guy who organizes the fantasy football league at work asked me if I wanted to get an all girl team together and participate.  I'm a lover of infiltrating all things generally male dominated, so I asked a couple of girls here if they wanted to participate, Lindsey (who actually does watch football) said yes, and Team Candy was born! 
Yes, our name is Team Candy.  One of our newest associates, Paige, named us.  I believe it is technically Team Eye-Candy, but we like to keep things appropriate (although I don't know why considering one of the teams is the Champion Whoremongers...).
Anyway, Lindsey, Paige, and I went to the chaotic, loud, booze-filled draft and picked ourselves a wonderful team!  While I've never been in to the NFL, I am very competitive.  Now that I'm invested in this team, I'm learning everything I can about my players and the NFL.  Actually, it has become so bad that Ian recently asked me to stop spouting off about the NFL and told me that if he broke up with because of my new found interest in football, people would totally understand...(he was joking, I think...).
So far we have won both of our games, which means we are ranked number one! I know, there is still plenty of time for our team to go down in a flaming ball of crap...but for now we rock! 
Because we are competitive, awesome, and women, we went to the mall and ordered the most girly team t-shirts we could find:
And Lindsey has been arranging/hosting team watch parties at her house:
Matt shown for scale...
Lindsey's basement has an awesome setup for football watch parties, which includes this lovely projection T.V. and the NFL red zone package, which makes sure you are watching whatever game currently has a ball in the red zone.
My contribution to the first watch party was cupcakes, of course!  Lindsey is always trying to coerce me into make certain kinds of cupcakes for her.  She recently sent me a recipe for Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream frosting and all she said was how delicious they looked and how excited she was for fall.  But I knew.  I KNEW she wanted me to make these cupcakes...
And I did.  I mean, making cupcakes is kind of a team effort...I like to make them, she likes to eat I might as well make a flavor she wants to try, no? 
Seriously though, I imagine it must take a lot of effort to host even a small gathering at your home (I wouldn't know, I don't let people enter my home due to the fact that it is in constant disarray and every place I have to sit only seats two...), so the least I can do is make cupcake flavors she suggests. 
As I alluded to at the beginning of this long stream of consciousness post, I have a tendency to run behind.  I woke up on the Sunday of our watch party, went to the grocery store and purchased the ingredients for cupcake making, made the cupcakes (and a dip, yummy!), and then showed up one hour late to the party...but when you show up with cupcakes, I like to think that people don't care about your lateness.  I might be wrong. 
These cupcakes are deliciously fall flavored.  I thought they were good, they were a hit at the party (meaning Lindsey and I ate a lot of them), and when I took them to work I received numerous compliments on them (as well as numerous complaints about the general lack of cupcakes in the recent past...). 
I changed the recipe to use store bought caramel (what?!  I was already late!) and instead of one stick of salted butter and one of unsalted butter in the buttercream...I just used unsalted butter and added more salt...I'm too lazy to purchase two different kinds of salt for one freaking recipe!
Oh, and just an FYI - if you double the cupcake recipe, you should also double the frosting...
Quit judging the pictures in this post...I forgot my camera at work when I baked the cupcakes, so these were taken on my messy desk.  You can actually see highlighters reflected on the side...
Pumpkin Cupcakes - (original recipe says you get 18 cupcakes from this...I got closer to 24)
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
  1. 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.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add dry ingredients, and mix on low until smooth. Fold in pumpkin puree.
  3. 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.
Salted Caramel Buttercream -
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste and to garnish
1/2 cup caramel sauce, more to taste and to garnish
2 cups powdered sugar
  1. In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy.
  2. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel. Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes). 
  4. Frost cupcakes and garnish with more caramel and a SMALL sprinkle of salt.

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