Cream-Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes

Prep: 35 min. Bake: 20 min. + cooling
Yield: 18 Servings
35 20 55
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners` sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
Whole cloves, optional

In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, pumpkin and eggs until well blended. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and cinnamon; gradually beat into pumpkin mixture until well blended.
Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
For filling, combine cornstarch and milk in a small saucepan until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, cream the shortening, butter and confectioners` sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla if desired. Gradually add the cornstarch mixture, beating until smooth.
Using a sharp knife, cut a 1-in. circle 1 in. deep in the top of each cupcake. Carefully remove tops and set aside. Spoon or pipe filling into cupcakes. Replace tops. If desired, add a clove "pumpkin stem" to the tops. Yield: about 1-1/2 dozen.

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