Fall is definitely in the air! Cooler weather, changing leaves, hot cider, fresh apples, and plenty of comfort food...I love every bit of it! Now that school is in full swing, I have been busier than ever. Many of the fall activities at our school are underway, so my responsibilities as Vice-President of the PTO and Head Parent for Sydney's 3rd grade class have kept me beyond busy. Between redesigning the PTO website, planning fundraisers, and getting parties planned for Sydney's classroom (in addition to everything I do as a stay-at-home mom), I don't have much free time. But who's complaining? I really do love it!
So with everything going on, I ran across a recipe called Smiling Scarecrow Cupcakes, and I just had to try them out. With a Sunday afternoon ahead of me (and not much on the agenda), I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for some Mommy-girly baking time with my three girls.
With the wonderful aromas of cinnamon and brown sugar in the air, we enjoyed an afternoon of baking together! The girls were beyond excited to spend time in the kitchen with Mommy, and I enjoyed snacking on the mini chocolate chips and M&M's. Best of all, I found a recipe to debut at Sydney's fall classroom party. It's a craft and a snack...the kids will love it!
To get started, preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare your baking pans by lining them with paper baking cups (18).
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon.
Using your mixer, combine the softened butter and sugar. To soften the butter, you can use a multitude of different methods. You can take it out of the refrigerator for about 30 minutes prior to the baking time, you can cut it up into tiny pieces, or you can microwave it for 6-7 seconds. If you choose to microwave the butter, be careful! Once the butter has melted, you've lost the texture you need, and it can't be restored once melted. Because I forgot to take it out of the refrigerator, I cut mine into tiny pieces.
After the butter-sugar mixture is smooth, add the egg. I always pre-crack mine in a small bowl to be sure the egg is good to use and that it's free of shell before it gets mixed in.
Continue mixing on low and begin adding the applesauce and flour. To create a lighter batter, I didn't add the flour all at once. I added about half the amount, mixed slightly, then added the other half. Combined with the whisking/sifting (in the preparation of the dry ingredients), this method should help make the cupcakes light and fluffy!
You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl to be sure all ingredients have been properly incorporated into the batter. Continue mixing if needed, but do not over mix. Over-mixing can lead to tough cupcakes! It shouldn't take more than about a minute to mix the applesauce and flour in...
When the batter's ready, scoop it into the paper baking cups using a spoon, ice cream scoop, or a cookie scoop (which is what I used). When all of the cups have been filled, put the cupcakes into the oven for about 18 minutes.
While the cupcakes are baking, you can get started on the frosting. In a sauce pan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and half and half.
Allow the mixture to reach full boil, then remove it from the heat. I put mine into a small bowl, so it would cool quicker. It needs to cool for about 30 minutes.
After about 18 minutes, the cupcakes should be ready to come out of the oven. Allow them to cool completely before applying the frosting. If the cupcakes are still hot (or even warm) when the frosting is applied, they will cause the frosting to melt, and it can turn into a gooey mess! To help speed the cooling process, I placed the cupcakes on a cooling rack away from the oven...
They smell so good...who needs frosting?
To finish the frosting, combine the cooled brown sugar mixture with the powdered sugar and vanilla.
Mix until the frosting looks smooth and creamy. A little taste wouldn't hurt either!
Frost each cupcake with about 1 tablespoon of frosting. You can use a butter knife or a spatula. No need to get it super smooth because you're going to cover it with candy anyway!
After the cupcakes have been frosted, begin assembling the hats. We put a small dab of frosting on the backside of each grahm cracker stick and flipped it over onto a pretzel.
How cute are these? The baby managed to sneak a few pretzels while I wasn't paying attention...
When the hats are ready, you can begin decorating the cupcakes. We began by placing the hat on the cupcake first, and I secured each one with a toothpick (from behind) to be sure they wouldn't fall off. Then the girls took over and finished each cupcake by decorating them with chow mein noodles and their favorite candies. We decided on mini M&M's, mini chocolate chips, and candy corn.
Taylor, my three-year-old, had so much fun with this! Her cupcakes tended to be a little on the avant-garde side...too cute!
Sydney, my eight-year-old, got really creative with this. She tried to make every face look different.
When we finished decorating all 18 cupcakes, the girls were so proud of their accomplishment! Less than 30 seconds after we took this picture, 3 cupcakes were gone...They were so good!
Super cute and really fun to make, these cupcakes are going to be talk of the town during our school's fall party!
I would love to know what you think of these cupcakes and I hope you try to make them too. Remember to rate and review this recipe, Smiling Scarecrow Cupcakes.
Come back on Monday to learn about some cute fall cookies that resemble candy!