Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Carrot Butter Cream


I have such wonderful memories of Halloween. My entire neighborhood would always celebrate it. They would come out to see what the kids were wearing and hand out candy. My crew and i trick or treated till we were upwards of 17, simply because everyone was so accustom to the tradition, and still wanted candy. My family always carved a silly pumpkin, ate toasted pumpkin seeds, and my sister and I would lay out all our candy, organize it and plan trades. It was serious business. 

However these days there are some scary things hiding in our unassuming fun sized candy. Dyes, petroleum and modified ingredients lurk around every wrapper and the halloween baked goods are often filled with red dye #40, which is banned in europe because of its strong ties with cancer and hyperactivity. Scary stuff. 

When I wanted to do a fun halloween cupcake for the kids I take care of, I knew I wanted to do it from scratch and skip the dyes and unknown chemicals in most store-bought baking mixes. I knew I wanted to try to do a play on black and orange but wasn't sure of how I could incorporate the bright orange color into the icing without using any food dyes, which yes, are filled with these toxic colored chemicals. Hmm whats orange in nature? carrots! no kid will want to have grated carrot in their icing, no how could I incorporate it? Carrot Juice! Sweet and easy to find or make I had found my 'dye'. Chocolate is already relatively black but i made it extra dark and used the good stuff, extra dark cocoa powder. So skip the chemicals and start from scratch this halloween. 

Spooky Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Carrot Butter Cream


3/4 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. in a mixing bowl shift together all ingredients. in a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. add eggs one by one. add vanilla. combine dry ingredients slowly and add the sour cream. pour into 12 pre lined cupcake molds, about 3/4 full and bake for about 20 minutes. 

Carrot Butter Cream

3 cups confectioners' sugar

1 cup butter, at room temperature 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoons whipping cream

2 tablespoons carrot juice

Beat confectioners sugar & butter until combine, at least 5 minutes. add remaining ingredients and beat for an additional minute. When cupcakes are cool from the oven, ice the cakes with about 2 tablespoons of frosting.  


Sugar Pumpkin Hand-Pies with Ginger Snap Crust

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We've had a bit of an Indian Summer in Philadelphia. As Fall has fallen, the 80 degree weather hasn't stopped me from craving some of my favorite Fall harvests. When I saw sugar pumpkin on sale at market, I was giddy to break it down and make the most of it. I think people generally have only ever carved a pumpkin for Halloween to let it rot on their stoop. However there is so much goodness waiting inside! With one pumpkin I made Pumpkin Curry, a Pumpkin pie, half a dozen cupcakes and a whole mess of Cinnamon toasted Pumpkin seeds! I'll assume you're an expert at cutting open the pumpkin, you can tackle it the old fashion way and cut the top and scoop the guts out, or you can halve it and have easier access. I can't tell you what a difference using fresh pumpkin was in this recipe as opposed to the canned variety. Pumpkins also have a great shelf life of around 2 months! So stock up on these fall goodies, throw them on the table or stairs as a festive reminder of the season and use them as you get to them. 

Sugar Pumpkin Hand-Pies with Ginger Snap Crust

makes about 24 hand pies 


2 cups fresh sugar pumpkin, peeled and quartered

1 1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoons salt

2 whole eggs

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon good cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground clove, caramon

Peel & quarter pumpkin. Steam for about 5 minutes, or until tender and mash. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Beat eggs and pour over pumpkin mash, add dry ingredients. Stir in cream and blend till combined. Set aside.

Ginger Snap Crust- 

2 cups gingersnap crumbs, homemade is best (Sweetzels of Philadelphia is my favorite store bought brand)

1/4 cup brown sugar

a dash flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick butter, melted

Combine all dry ingredients and slowly stir in melted butter. In two cupcake pans with liners, press crumb mixture to the bottom of each liner, about a tablespoon. Pour about a 1/4 cup of filling into each cup. Bake for roughly 20 minutes or until a knife comes out from the center clean. Let cool. Top with whipped cream, pumpkin seeds or ice cream!