I am writing this blog post as my students take their final exam. Literally, I am watching them all with their heads down, pens furiously writing and brows perpetually furrowed. This class has had a rough semester so I thought I would ease the pain for their final exam by making them cupcakes. I figured a cupcake with sage in it would give them wisdom…get it? Har har! Honestly, though I have found baking makes students far more receptive to both the teacher and to knowledge. It lightens the situation, earns the teacher some goodwill and perhaps, just perhaps they will learn more. I truly believe teachers, especially at the collegiate level, need to do it more often (class size permitting). I have had students tell me I am a legend among their friends because I brought the class some leftovers from my Compass Improv catering. They were doing me the favor by eating the leftovers and yet I somehow became the good teacher! But in the end, students just give me a wonderful excuse to bake.
For this recipe I wanted some sort of Fall/Winter flavor without too much work. I have made these Pumpkin Sage cupcakes (and even a cake) before and they have always turned out flavorful and moist. They aren’t too sweet and even have a nice earthy flavor to them because of the sage. The typical recipe calls for fresh sage, which I normally always get but there seems to be a run on fresh sage in the grocery store – perhaps people are reattempting their failed sage-stuffing recipes from Thanksgiving in time for Christmas? So, this time I replaced the fresh sage with whole dried sage leaves and there seemed to be no difference in flavor or texture. DO NOT USE POWDER SAGE! In the end you get about 20 cupcakes. As for the frosting I tinkered a little bit by adding vanilla bean paste and some heavy whipping cream to lighten up the traditionally heavy base of a cream cheese frosting. I would recommend this for all cream cheese frostings to be honest. Makes things a bit more airy.
Anyway, here is another picture and the recipe. It is wonderful. Go try it
Pumpkin Sage Cupcakes with Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted fro Martha Stewart
Ingredients for Cupcakes
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup fresh (or whole dried) sage leaves cut into chiffonade
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can pumpkin puree
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Directions for Cupcakes
1. Preheat oven to 325° and line a standard cupcake tin with wrappers.
2. In a saucepan over medium-low heat melt the butter. Once the butter has melted add the sage and cook until the butter turns golden brown. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into a bowl.
4. In a very large bowl combine the pumpkin pure, brown sugar and white sugar. Whisk until combined and then add the butter sage mixture. Whisk until incorporated. Beat in eggs one at a time.
5. Slowly whisk flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until just combined.
6. Evenly distribute batter among the cupcake tins.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean
8. Make the Frosting
Ingredients for Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
16 oz cream cheese and room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Direction for Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting
1. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth.
2. Add in vanilla bean paste and beat until distributed.
3. Beat in heavy whipping cream and continue to beat until the frosting become a bit more fluffy and airy…yes I know this is rather subjects.
4. Frost your cooled cupcakes as desired!