Halloween is a time for ghouls, ghosts, goblins… and why not a pumpkin too!
Last Halloween I shared a post about my Strawberry Shortcake costume that I was so excited to wear until my plans were foiled by the infamous Minnesota Halloween blizzard of 1991. I figured why not stick with the tradition, and share another fun costume story with you this year!
In our household growing up, Halloween costumes were never purchased from the store. Instead, they were creatively crafted from whatever items you could find around the house. Growing up in Minnesota, Halloween comes at a time of year that is pretty chilly. Therefore, you definitely don’t want to be parading around the neighborhood in shorts or a t-shirt.
My mother, being the smart woman she is, decided that she would create the ultimate Halloween costume for me one year. It fit the criteria of being both homemade and warm. We went to JoAnn fabrics and bought some orange fabric and some accompanying fabric paint. We came home and she crafted a giant pumpkin costume complete with eyes, a nose, and a mouth. All that one had to do was slip on the costume and fill it up with insulation of your choice (which ranged from newspaper to balloons). The look was completed with some orange face paint and some green sweatpants with a turtleneck. This costume was such a classic that I wore it for several years!
Continuing with the pumpkin theme of this post, these cupcakes are pumpkin all the way. The center is a pumpkin shaped cheesecake and the cupcakes themselves have canned pumpkin in them. This recipe can easily be split into two days which makes them pretty easy to pull together. Since there is already quite a bit of prep work, I cheated and used box cake mix—you should too without any guilt!
Mini Cheesecake Ingredients
butter, to coat the inside of your pumpkin molds
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
orange and green food coloring
silicone pumpkin molds
1 package (2-layer size) spice cake mix
1 cup sour cream
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1/4 cup oil
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
3 1/2 pounds sifted confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
orange food coloring
sprinkles for decoration
Mini Cheesecake Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter the cavities in your pumpkin molds.
Combine cream cheese, sugar, heavy whipping cream, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor, pulse until smooth. Alternatively, mix cream cheese and sugar together until well blended. Add whipping cream, eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. Remove about 2 tablespoons of filling and color it green. Color the remaining filling using orange food coloring.
Paint the green filling into the stems of 40 cavities. The filling is pretty thick and should stay in place nicely, but just to be safe, pop these filled molds into the freezer for 5 minutes before filling with the orange cheesecake.
Set silicone pumpkin mold on a baking sheet. Fill the pumpkins with orange cheesecake filling. Leave a small amount of room in each mold for the filling to expand while baking (about a 16th of an inch.)
Bake 12-14 minutes until the tops look set but the cheesecake pumpkins are still jiggly. Allow to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature, then place in the freezer for at least 1 hour. You can, at this point, wrap the mold well and store them in the freezer for up to several weeks.
Remove the molds from the freezer, turn the mold upside down and press the pumpkin cheesecakes out. I set mine on a non-stick baking mat just to be sure they wouldn’t stick later once they thawed. It will be easiest to move these now to a serving platter or dessert plates.
Heat oven to 350ºF. Beat cake mix, sour cream, pumpkin, oil, and eggs until blended. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan. Pour a thin layer of batter into each of the cupcake liners.
Remove the Mini Cheesecake Pumpkins from the freezer. Un-mold them, and stick 2 cheesecakes together (put their backsides together) then place them in the center of each cupcake liner. It is very important that you know which way your cheesecake pumpkins are facing. Later when you cut into a cupcake to reveal the pumpkin, you want to cut across the front not the side.
Fill the cupcake liners up over the cheesecake pumpkins. I felt it was easiest to put my batter in a large disposable pastry bag and pipe it into the cups. Once all the cups are filled allow them to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. While you are waiting, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Bake the cupcakes for 20-22 minutes until they are set around the edges and puffed in the middle. As the cupcakes cool, they will sink a bit in the center. Allow them to cool completely.
Cream butter, shortening, cream cheese and extracts. Gradually add confectioners sugar and salt. Beat on low speed until nice and creamy. This recipe is for a stiff consistency. For a thinner consistency, use 3 pounds of powdered sugar instead.
Heather’s Helpful Hints
To make the perfect cream cheese frosting, your cream cheese must be at room temperature. You can ensure this happens by letting it sit out overnight. Butter should be at room temperature, but still a bit cool (try leaving it out for 2-3 hours before making the frosting). The butter shouldn’t be completely soft and mush in the package. It should be soft, but still hold its cube shape.