My grandma used to say that adding instant pudding mix to box cake mix was the secret to making it moist. I suppose it was a lot of people’s “secret”, because pretty soon cake mix manufacturers started adding it to the mix, and if you had a recipe that called for cake mix and added pudding, you had to be careful to use a brand that didn’t advertise “pudding in the mix” or you’d have a doubly moist, overly soft cake. Today’s cake mixes are all pretty moist with or without the pudding, but what happens when you put pudding in a scratch cake? After eating a somewhat dry carrot cupcake yesterday at the bookstore, I decided to see what a packet of instant pudding mix would do for a scratch pumpkin cake.
It was great! I’ve used pudding mix in other scratch cakes and found them to be kind of squishy, but it worked really well in the pumpkin cake and added a subtle vanilla flavor. As for the frosting, I was going for tart, not too sweet and light, so I added whipped cream and a dash of lemon to one of my favorite cream cheese icing recipes to get what I think is probably my new favorite icing for cupcakes. And if you like the way I piped it out as a star, all you need to do it yourself is a pastry bag and Ateco Tip #825. Mine is from a set of extra wide tips I found on Cooking.com, but Ateco sells them on their website as well.
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pudding in the Mix
- 2 sticks unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
- 2 cups 9 oz all-purpose flour
- 1 3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup heavy cream cold
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 2 oz unsalted or salted butter softened
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice fresh
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 muffin cup with line paper muffin liners.
- In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla and pumpkin puree.
- Mix the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together in a separate bowl, then gradually add to the pumpkin mixture stirring just until blended
- Pour the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes or until tops are golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form and set aside. In a second bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and lemon juice until creamy. Stir the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Frost the cupcakes.