MSC: Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

It's fall! The mornings and evenings have been cold and blustery, and I've traded in shorts and t-shirts for Uggs, sweaters, and fleeces. I've even heard the leaves are peaking up north. Hopefully that will happen soon here too.

If you don't know it by now... fall is my favorite season. The reasons are endless, but many of them have to do with food. I've already made apple cider doughnuts, apple pie, apple crisps, apple-walnut crescents, and an apple tart. I've roasted a butternut squash with butter and brown sugar. I made a slow-cooked pot roast dinner with carrots and potatoes. I have soups, stews, chili, and other comforting meals in mind for the days ahead.

And now, I've started cooking with one of my favorite fall foods: pumpkin!

I didn't pay much attention when my boyfriend casually mentioned reading about a pumpkin shortage because it didn't register at the time that the shortage might affect my fall baking. But when I decided to shop for ingredients for this recipe and some upcoming recipes, I was shocked to find empty the shelf where all the Libby's pumpkin cans belong.

Luckily, I had a little time to check around and found some cans of pumpkin at Stop & Shop when I went to the Cape this past weekend. I stocked up, just in case I'm not able to find some close to home (Boston area) again. The small cans were even on sale: 2 for $3. But on to the recipe...

I was so happy when I saw that Kim from What the Whisk had picked the pumpkin patch cupcakes for October's MS: Cupcakes Club cupcake from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite Treat. Not only had I been wanting to make them because they have pumpkin in them, but it's also been a while since I made those ladybug cupcakes, and I wanted to try working with marzipan again.

These cupcakes can definitely be classified as cupcakes, even if they seem more like muffins, because they're just so light and fluffy. And they're vaguely reminiscent of pumpkin pie, being chock-full of some of pumpkin's favorite spices: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.

A little too plain for me on their own, the cupcakes are perfectly complemented by a sweet cream cheese frosting.

And now for the fun part: makin' the pumpkins (or punkins, as I like to call 'em). I enlisted a little help from my boyfriend for the kneading and dying of the marzipan. He took care of finding the right shade of orange for the pumpkins...

...while I turned one portion green for the leaves.

After a whole lot of kneading and color adjusting, we ended up with bold orange and green.

I took the green and rolled it out for the leaves. (The stems are crafted by winding and rolling together orange and green scraps.) Hard as I tried, I could not find a mini leaf-shaped cookie cutter. I even checked the sources Martha supplied in the back of her cookbook and had no luck. Left with no other options, I printed a picture of a leaf and then used it as a guide as I cut the leaf shapes freehand with a sharp steak knife. I'm pretty artistically challenged -- when it comes to crafty things -- so I was ecstatic that my little cutouts came anywhere close to resembling leaves.

The pumpkins were much easier to make. They're just 3/4-inch balls of orange marzipan. I gently pressed a toothpick into the sides of each ball to create lines that would transform the simple orange balls into pumpkins.

I didn't make pumpkins for every cupcake because it is really time-consuming, especially trying to cut out leaves without a cutter. But I made enough to refresh my marzipan molding skills, and I have the leftover marzipan in the freezer for some future project.

I'm no Martha, but I'm close, right? Well, it was fun anyways!

Check out the Martha Stewart Web site for a similar recipe to the one in the book. (I halved it and ended up with 24 cupcakes.)

Also, head over to the MS: Cupcakes Club Web site to see how the other members did with this recipe!

Looking for something savory? Try this amazing pumpkin recipe for dinner!