While other bloggers have been busy pushing pumpkin and spooky themed treats for months here I am, end of October, introducing my first pumpkin treat of the season. It can only vaguely be tied to Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead (November 1st – November 2nd) because there are some south of the border inspired flavors at play here.
Have I ever told you the second thing I tell people after I tell them I have a blog? “I’m the world’s worst blogger”. That’s my brand of self promotion! Look, I’m great at the creating, baking, tasting, sharing the goods part of this blogging experience. I’m terrible at the taking a photo before I shove things in my cakehole, baking in the daylight hours so all my pictures don’t look like they were taken in a cave and sitting down to translate my flour and booze splattered notes into an actual blog post. But I’m working on it.
Let’s talk about Dia de los Muertos. Basically, it’s a Latin American holiday where folks honor their deceased loved ones festively. The thinking being their loved ones would be insulted to have them mourning and sad. To me it’s the antithesis to the commercial nightmare of Halloween but with all the food and pageantry still intact. Um….YEAH!!! Not only do they bring food to their loved ones graves, there is also a traditional bread. Show me you love me with carbs! But I digress, the painted skulls, the bright colors, the marigolds….words fail me. If you have festivities going on in your area, I urge you to check it out. If not, here are some beautiful photographs from around the world.
When I die, please, please someone make these and bring one to my memorial site on Dia de los Muertos. This is one of my favorite flavor combinations. Rumor has it, the Aztecs were the first to add chili powder to their version of chocolate. Columbus
stole brought it back to Spain where sugar was added. Eventually, someone added cinnamon and coffee. I love the spicy kick combined with a rich dark chocolate and coffee. Add a subtle sweet, pumpkin flavor and I am in heaven.
I started with my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, swapping out of some of the white sugar for brown for a more caramel flavor. I used really dark chocolate because it’s what I prefer and I think it contrasts well with the sweetness of the pumpkin and highlights the spices. I’m not afraid of heat, so I went ahead and used a smoked chipotle chili powder. You could use something milder (and less), if you prefer. Finally, I added with my new favorite Coffee Liqueur from Seattle Distilling. They are small ‘grain to glass’ distillery on Vashon Island just west of Seattle. Sure, you can use any coffee liqueur (even that one which rhymes with Don Schula) but I’m a convert and am never going back. The addition doesn’t booze up the cupcake, it just enhances the chocolate flavor. If you wanted a bit of a boozy kick, brush the just out of the oven cupcakes with additional liqueur.
For the frosting I used pumpkin butter straight from the jar. I like the Trader Joe’s brand. There are tons of recipes on the Google if you prefer to make your own. I don’t eat enough to justify making an entire batch. Finally, I topped these with some toasted and salted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds).
Aztec Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Butter Frosting
(makes 18 cupcakes)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup white sugar
- 2 ounces extra dark chocolate (72% cacao), melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon (4.5 liquid ounces) canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon smoked chipotle chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
- ½ cup Seattle Distilling’s Coffee Liqueur
- ½ cup toasted pepitas
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line muffin tins with liners. Cream the butter and the sugars until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add in your cooled, melted chocolate, mix. Add in eggs and egg yolks one at a time, mixing after each to combine. Next add in canola oil, vanilla extract and sour cream. Scrape down sides of bowl, as needed. Sift together flour, spices, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder. Add in one-third of the flour mixture, mix. Next, add in half of the coffee liqueur, mix. Repeat this process so you end with the last third of the flour mixture.
Fill liners 2/3 full and bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pans for less than 5 minutes, then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup pumpkin butter (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
- 3 cups of powdered sugar
Beat butter and pumpkin butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time until desired consistency is reached. Frost cooled cupcakes. Garnish with toasted pepitas.
Until next time stick a cupcake in your cake hole!