Pecan Shortbread Crusted Browned Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I’m doing it. I’m getting one more pumpkin recipe in before it’s officially December, and therefore, officially wintertime.
I don’t know why there’s some kind of weird cultural taboo on pumpkin desserts after Thanksgiving, but I’m totally against it. I barely bake enough with pumpkin during autumn, to heck if I’m going to miss prime opportunities for treats that are warm and spicy and flavored with pumpkin.
I made these cupcakes a little more acceptable for this time of year. The “not quite winter but no longer fall” time. The “do I get a pumpkin spice or gingerbread latte?” time. The “my hands are too cold without gloves but too sweaty with them” time. You guys know what I’m talking about right? Anyone? Anyone? (“Bueller? Bueller?”)

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Dark Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes with Marshmallow Coffee Buttercream

I get a lot of things from my dad. My brown eyes, olive skin, and “solid” build all come from him. My annoyingly obsessive attention to detail, dry sense of humor, and predisposition to mornings go to his credit too. While some of the traits I have gotten from him are genetic, I’ve also picked up a lot of learned behaviors from him over the years. Since I was a little girl I’ve been watching him and studying him and mimicking him – it’s only natural that some of his habits and traits would eventually become mine. For better or worse.
There’s one thing he does though that I will just not do. Never, ever will I be okay with doing this. Never, EVER. It is a habit so disgusting, so repulsive I can barely bring myself to write it (I’m really making you want one of those cupcakes up there, aren’t I?).
My father reuses day-old coffee.
There. I said it. And may have gotten a little queasy.

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Chocolate Barbecue Sauce Cupcakes with Browned Butter Brown Sugar Frosting…and Honey Cream Cheese Frosting…and Barbecue Chocolate Ganache

I was shopping the other day. As I am prone to do. I was just browsing, looking for a few things for my apartment for next year. Walking into the briskly air-conditioned store, seeking a soap dish and refuge from the 90+ degree heat and the inevitable thigh sweat it brings (there’s a mental image no one needed), I was flabbergasted by the sight of fall and even winter décor lining the aisles.

I stood there, upper lip glistening with sweat, wondering how people could be preparing for the winter months already. Wasn’t it just the 4th of July a few weeks ago? Aren’t we in the throes of our umpteenth heat wave this year? Aren’t there still beaches to go to and tan lines to acquire?
And the kicker? Majority of the summer items were marked down by 50%, if not 75% or more! While that enabled me to nab an adorable plate for mere pennies, it did leave me with a sinking feeling that the seasons will change, no matter how hard I will them not too. August will follow July and leaves will change from green to gold. The thermometer will plummet from 97 to -17 and we will all be complaining about how cold it is instead of how hot it is (part of the human condition, I suppose).

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Peanut Butter Cupcakes with White Chocolate and Pretzel Mousse

Ok, I know I’m a journalism major and all but, can I just say that writing is hard. Like, really hard. Coming up with something great and witty and inspiring? One of the most painstaking experiences ever. Not to mention the editing and rewriting and editing and rewriting. And making it coherent? Word putting together be hard stuff.
And, because I’m neurotic and can never make things easy on myself, I am also very particular about whereI write. I can’t write just anywhere, oh no, that is SO not going to fly. Like my room? Nope, not going to happen. Too cramped, too stuffy. The place where I set up my laptop has got to be perfect if I am going to attempt to write.

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Puppy Chow Cupcakes and a Blogiversary!

366 days. That’s how long I’ve had this blog. One year and one day. That’s a long time.
I had initially wanted to do this post yesterday, on my actual blogiversary. But I just couldn’t get myself to sit down and right. I tried, as I’ve done so many times before, but the words just wouldn’t come. I wasn’t going to force them to, I know that doesn’t work.
We can just consider these cupcakes fashionably late – and completely delicious! I thought of them ages ago while I was sitting in class (my tuition money hard at work right there). I have always had a soft spot in my stomach heart for puppy chow. When my mom made it when my sisters and I were little it was like a holiday, a day that should have been nationally recognized! We would eat cup after cup of it, watching the layer of powdered sugar get thicker and thicker on our fingers, refusing to lick them clean until our mom cut us off from the goods.

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Chai Spiced Apple Cider Cupcakes with Pumpkin Pie Frosting

I have a fear of stopwatches. Severe anxiety might be more accurate. When I see one, my heart starts to pump faster, and faster still. The seconds, as if trying to keep pace with my frantic pulse, seem to tick by at a rapid clip. My hands sweat and my throat dries up.

I felt this way every time I had a cross country race in high school. It made me miserable. I still get anxious thinking about it even. Despite my competitive streak, the idea of trying to beat a clock makes me nauseous.

And that’s how I felt Friday night going into my competition on Saturday. Panicked, freaked, stressed, overwhelmed. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I just didn’t.
But here’s the kicker, I didn’t have to beat the clock on Saturday.

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Feeling Nostalgic

Has anyone else seen that Wendy’s commercial for their new lemonade? The one where the girl goes “this reminds me of my first lemonade stand as a kid” (or something along those lines, I’m too lazy to YouTube the commercial right now). 
Well, I remember my first *attempt* at a lemonade stand as a kid. My sister and I stood outside our house with a watered down pitcher of Kool-Aid for two hours. We watched as cars zipped past just hoping they would stop after seeing our hand-made sign.

Sadly, no one stopped, and our only customer at the end of the day was our dad. And I don’t even know if he drank our lemonade.

Anyways, that entrepreneurial fail did not sully my taste or feelings for lemonade. I still love the drink and anything lemonade flavored. And every year when the weather warms up and Culver’s re-releases their lemon ice I go bananas for it. I normally go for just a small dish of the tart, creamy treat but, on occasion, I get the raspberry lemon ice cooler. Pure magic. 
Needless to say, when I saw Jessica’s recipe for Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes I was intrigued. And when a family friend with a strawberry allergy came to me looking for a dessert, I was more than happy to adapt the recipe to create Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes! 

These cupcakes are the epitome of summer to me. Filled with lemon butter cream and topped with a raspberry lemonade buttercream, they are soft, sweet, and refreshing. They totally beat a glass of watered down Kool-Aid any day.

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes (adapted from How Sweet It Is, makes 12ish cupcakes)

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
Juice from one lemon
Grated zest of two lemons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
In another bowl cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until fully incorporated. Add vanilla, lemon juice and zest.
Add half dry ingredients and mix until the flour *just* disappears. Add the milk, mixing until combined. Add the remainder of the flour mixture mixing again until it *just* disappears. (We don’t want stiff cakes people!).
Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, or a large ice cream scoop, pour batter into lined cupcake/muffin tins and bake at 350 for 18-25 minutes. The cakes are done when the tops spring back after being lightly pressed.
Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool. While the cakes are cooling, make your frosting.
  
Raspberry and Lemon Buttercream
2 sticks of room temperature butter
3-4 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Juice from ½ a lemon
½ pint fresh raspberries – pureed
Zest from two lemons
1-2 tablespoons of milk (depending on how thick you want your frosting)
Using an electric mixer cream the butter until smooth. Mix in the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, going slowly so you don’t get it all over the place. Add the zest and lemon juice and continue stirring until your desired consistency is reached, adding more powdered sugar or milk if you need to. Reserve about 1/3 of the frosting (this will be for the filling of the cupcakes). Add the raspberry puree to the remaining 2/3 of the frosting and stir to combine.
Using a small paring knife cut a small funnel shaped hole into the top of each cupcake. Remove the little cupcake filler and cut off the point so you just have a little cap that will fit back over the frosting. (This is all very confusing and I was too busy piping and frosting to take adequate pictures but Baking Bites has a great tutorial on filling cupcakes.) 
Fill a piping bag fitted with a small tip (or disposable zip top bag with the end snipped off) with lemon frosting. Fill each cupcake with frosting before replacing cupcake caps. 
Fill another piping bag (or another disposable bag) with the raspberry lemonade frosting and pipe onto each cupcake. 
Garnish with a fresh raspberry or lemon slice if you so desire. 

Can someone get me a straw?
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