I’m not a baking purist. I sometimes take shortcuts in the kitchen. So here goes…This week’s sweet uses a mix. Gasp! In the last post, I mentioned my dislike of many gluten-free mixes. They smell funny, they taste funny and the consistency is often not at all like the gluten-filled counterpart. The following creation is not like that. Not at all. Promise.
Based on a recipe Mary shared with me a year ago, these cupcakes are made with a Betty Crocker gluten-free chocolate cake mix and a can of pumpkin. If you eat gluten, use a regular cake mix and omit the eggs. If you use a gluten-free cake mix, I suggest adding 1 or 2 eggs to the batter. Without the eggs, they are VERY dense and brownie like. Not that brownie like is a bad thing, but I was going for a fluffier cake texture this time.
Makes 12 cupcakes
1 Betty Crocker gluten-free cake mix
1 can of pumpkin
Mix everything together in a bowl. This is a very thick batter. Fill cups 1/2 full, bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. It’s that simple! These do not taste pumpkin-y. If you want them to taste like pumpkin, use the white cake mix and add your favorite blend of pumpkin pie spices. Yummy!
I used a basic vanilla frosting recipe. Use your favorite. I have no super-secret, extraordinary frosting recipe in my arsenal. I rolled the cupcakes in shredded coconut. I was going for something with a snow theme to fit the day when I would be delivering this week’s sweet and it also fit with a fun ingredient I wanted to use–Coconut M&Ms. The Coconut M&Ms were located at Walgreens. They also had Wild Cherry but that didn’t speak to me. I topped each cupcake with one of the Coconut M&Ms (which are white, green or brown) and noticed that a few of the M&Ms had a palm tree imprint instead of the usual “M” design.
This week’s sweet was shared with my friend Richard. I met Richard many years ago when we were both hired to entertain adults at their workplace, a medical lab. I am a balloon artist and was a bit apprehensive about entertaining adults that many years ago because there was a stigma about balloons being intended for children. Even though I knew what I could with balloons was far too cool to be limited to children, I was often fearful adults wouldn’t be open to having fun, especially not at work.
So there I was at this medical lab and Richard walked in wearing a brightly-colored costume and a clown nose. No scary make-up, just a fun costume and a golf bag filled with goofy props. If I thought balloons were going to fall flat with this audience, what must this guy be thinking? Well, what he should have been thinking was that he was about to turn the place upside down and fill the air with laughter. It was difficult for me to focus on my work–I wanted to stop to watch what he was doing. He never spoke a word, except through a Kazoo, and had every adult in sight laughing hysterically. And it turned out they loved my balloons. I learned a lot that day and made a new friend, too.
Richard is much more than a clown, he’s also a stiltwalker, a comedy waiter and creator of the Recycle Cycle, a bicycle car made out of well, recycled stuff. Get it–Recycle Cycle? You need to see it in person. It’s that kind of cool. And when he’s not working, Richard is often on a mountain bike. Or a ski bike, which is where this week’s sweet was handed off. Richard built these fun ski bikes and we spent some time at an undisclosed location (shhh! I’m supposed to keep it a secret that Museum Hill is a great place to sled and ski bike!), flying down the enormous hill and lugging ourselves and the bikes back to the top so we could do it again. What a blast! I am running out of space for any additional bicycles, but I really want a ski bike now!
For the past couple of years, I’ve worked at the same convention in Las Vegas with Richard. He drives out with the Recycle Cycle and also hauls my work stuff. He also totes a bunch of Trader Joe’s goodies back for my pantry, including cases of their canned pumpkin. This week he got a little of it back, cleverly hidden in cupcakes.
While my purpose in writing about my friends is not to pimp their products or businesses, you can check out what Richard does here.