With my favorite apron tied around my waist, standing in front of my charming, small kitchen island, a lamp brightly lit upon my choice ingredients, I set out to create a special fall signature frosting recipe. I knew exactly what I wanted, it was just coming up with the correct measurements so it would taste delicious! As my Italian grandmother taught me, I began adding a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, until my "pumpkin mascarpone whipped frosting" came together!
The warmth of cinnamon and nutmeg, mixed with the creamy mascarpone and pumpkin, created the loveliest, unmistakable fall aroma. My finger somehow kept making its way into the bowl to taste the delicious mixture, until the proper measurements were achieved. Fresh whipping cream was then whipped into a large pillow of white, and gently folded into the heavenly pumpkin mascarpone. A smile came to my face - it was perfect!
I adore adding cinnamon, with its sweet and spicy qualities, into both sweet and savory foods. I thought it would be an ideal ingredient to feature in this post, since it had an important roll in making my frosting so divine.
Native to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka,) cinnamon dates back to 2800 B.C. Today, Saigon cinnamon has become more popular, due to its sweeter, stronger, more flavorful character over the subtler Ceylon cinnamon; although, when you don't want competing flavors, Ceylon is the more recommended choice. Cinnamon has been found to have many health benefits for diabetics and blood sugar levels. Its pungent aroma is known to boost brain function and memory levels, as well. Okay, bring it on for the memory! :)
Obviously, the delicious pumpkin mascarpone frosting needs to top off an incredible base! Enter my favorite vanilla bean cupcake recipe. I can't say exactly why, but this cupcake chilled is even more flavorful, if that's possible; therefore, perfect for a frosting that also requests the same cooler conditions. The floral notes of the vanilla bean cupcake is the ideal pairing with the spicy tones of the pumpkin mascarpone, neither trying to outdo the other. The cupcake has a tender and delicate denseness, which gives way to a wonderful smooth and velvety palette for the creamy, whipped pumpkin mascarpone frosting. Hope you enjoy this delightful cupcake combination as much as I did!
Until next time…mangia! xox
Pumpkin Mascarpone Frosted Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Makes 24 - 30 cupcakes
for the cupcakes:
3 cups cake flour (see note below)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature (see note below)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
for the pumpkin mascarpone frosting:
6 ounces mascarpone (3/4 of an 8 ounce container)
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
scant 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
toasted pecans, chopped for garnish (if desired)
Create the Cupcakes and Frosting:
prepare the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and set aside. Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the bowl of the mixer with the butter and discard the pod. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for 1 additional minute.
Add the sugar to the butter mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
Divide the batter between 24 prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 full (you will likely have a little batter remaining to make about 6 more cupcakes.) Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
prepare the frosting:
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the mascarpone, pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg until well combined. Add the confectioners sugar to the creamy pumpkin mascarpone and mix together with a hand mixer until light and creamy.
In the chilled bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, pour in the cold whipping cream and whip on low speed until it begins to thicken. Increase speed to high, and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.
Fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mascarpone mixture until combined.
Scoop the pumpkin mascarpone whipped frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a frosting tip of your choice, and frost the cupcakes!
Once frosted, serve immediately or store in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 36 hours.
1) I used cake flour; however, if you don't have cake flour you can use the following substitution: for each 1 cup of cake flour use 3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
2) A substitution for buttermilk: for each 1 cup of buttermilk use 1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Allow to sit at room temperature until it begins to thicken.
3) For the frosting, I used an Ateco closed star tip #846, and made two circles of stars, and a flattened star in the center, to allow an area for the toasted pecan pieces.
4) Here's a link to the snapware brand cupcake containers I use when refrigerating or transporting cupcakes. For approximately $10 each, it's well worth the small investment. You can purchase these from a number of sources: Amazon, Target and Walmart, are a few.
The Vanilla Bean Cupcakes recipe is adapted from Annie's Eats, and the Pumpkin Mascarpone Frosting is my own creation.