Award Winning Pumpkin Coconut Cupcakes

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This recipe belongs to Paula Deen. I’ve made it many times as pumpkin bars. I adapted it just a bit for pumpkin cupcakes. You can find the original recipe here.

For the pumpkin cupcakes, you will need the following ingredients:

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line up your cupcake pan with cupcake liners. This batch made 30 cupcakes.

1. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla and pumpkin until light and fluffy.

2. Stir together the flour (don’t forget to sift the flour, very important!), baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth.

4. Fill cupcake liners about halfway. Bake for 20 minutes. Let completely cool before frosting.

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Ingredients for the icing:
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin cupcakes.

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Ingredients for the topping:

7 oz. of sweetened shredded coconut.

To make the topping, lightly toast the coconut: Spread coconut in a shallow baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently in between.

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Top the cupcakes with toasted coconut and enjoy!

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I entered these cupcakes in a Halloween cupcake contest and it won first prize! That’s why I call them Award Winning Pumpkin Coconut Cupcakes.

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Feeling coco-nutty…

 

Creepy Halloween Finger Cookies

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Making creepy halloween finger cookies is fun and easy! I made these cookies a few years back for a halloween party and they were perfect for the occasion. Last time, I added green food coloring to the cookie dough, didn’t dye the “nails” (almonds) and then baked. This time around, I didn’t add green food coloring to the cookie dough, but I dyed the almond slivers in red food color. I like this version much better. It’s just so much creepier!

Here are the ingredients you will need:

about 3 to 4 tablespoons red food coloring
about 48 slivered almonds
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
5 tablespoons of granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1 and 2/3 cups all purpose flour

Heat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place food coloring in a small shallow bowl. Place almond slivers into the bowl and toss until color is evenly distributed. Set aside.

Separate 1 egg. Set aside the white. In a small bowl, whisk together the yolk of the first egg with the second egg and vanilla. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add the egg mixture. Beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, and mix on low speed until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

When dough is chilled and ready, roll each piece back and forth to form finger shapes about 3 to 4 inches long.

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Pinch the dough in two places to form knuckles. Score each knuckle lightly with a butter knife. To make the fingers more creepy, make them crooked and uneven. Perfection is not necessary here! The more imperfect the better! Make the fingers extra skinny because they will puff out when baking.

When all fingers are formed, brush lightly with egg white.

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Place and push colored red almond nails into the dough to attach.

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Transfer fingers to prepared baking sheets.

Bake until lightly browned, for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely. Enjoy!

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Halloween party food ideas

If you are in need of some ideas on how to decorate Halloween food and tables,  here are some examples of our award winning Halloween food and decorating contests from years back:

We made a Jell-o “brain” and put candy eyeballs on cupcakes. 

We made spaghetti, put candy eyeballs and used a hot dog cut in half lengthwise for a tongue.

We took some wire to string cheese cubes, salami, beef jerky and tomato. We used this to decorate a witch hat. It was alot of work to string all that food. But it was also alot of fun creating with friends. 

We took some mini saugsages, wrapped them in tortilla “bandages” and dipped them in ketchup to resemble bloody fingers. We made more fingers using string cheese. We scored the cheese to create knuckles and then put the skin of a pepper for a fingernail.

We made cupcakes and to decorate them to look like a witch fell through it, we used a peppermint patty, a hersey’s kiss and some fondant for the witch’s hat. For the witch’s legs, we used a chocolate covered pretzel stick and more fondant for feet and stripes on her stockings.

For a cornucopia theme, we used tablecloths in fall colors, fake fall leaves, baskets, and pumpkins to decorate our table. 

For a darker theme, use black cloth, skulls, lights, candlesticks and necklaces to decorate the table. 

An Awesome Harvest Kind of Day

What an awesome day. Today we had a Harvest Festival where I work. We have one every year. It usually involves costume contests and food contests. This year we had a costume contest, pumpkin decorating contest and cupcake contest. Our unit, which consists of almost 45 people (three units combined) decided to do a group costume. We do a group costume almost every year now.  We love to celebrate Halloween and almost every year, we win in the contests of costume or food, or both. 

This year we won first place at the cupcake contest, first place for group costume and first place for individual costume. What a bunch of winners we are! 

I was especially happy because I won first place in the cupcake contest! I made pumpkin coconut cupcakes. I decorated each of them with a spider on top. Nothing fancy, but I guess the judges liked the combination and taste of the pumpkin and toasted coconut. 

This year, we dressed as Disney characters. I was Peter Pan and with me, I had  a Captain Hook. We had a Cruella De Ville and with her, she had 3 dalmations. We had an Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) and the 3 little fairies along with Maleficent. We had an Alice (in Wonderland) and the Queen of Hearts with a couple of cards. We had a Snow White and we had 7 drawfs.  We had a Beauty and her Beast .We had a Mary Poppins. We had Elsa and Olaf. And of course, we wouldn’t be complete without a Mickey!

It’s hard to get work done on a Harvest Fesitval day. We managed to get a little done. But, a bunch of us took a little breather in the morning and made our way down to the lunch room to take a look at the pumpkin contest. There were about 6 of us in the elevator and everybody forgot to press 1 for the first floor. We ended up going all the way up to the 5th floor by accident. The elevator door opened and a security guard was sitting at a desk looking at us. Did we surprise him! For one thing, we were all dressed up as Disney characters. And for another,  it was not even Halloween yet. The expression on his face was priceless. We were laughing so hard that I’m sure everyone could hear us as we moved down the floors in the elevator. After we were done in the lunch room, we all headed back up. I had the crazy idea to head back up to the 5th floor to shock the security guard again. This time, there were about 11 of us, which meant even more Disney characters. We made our way back to the 5th floor and this time, as the door opened, we were waving and saying hi to him. The look on his face again was priceless. We were roaring with laughter, even louder than the first time. Of course, we had to take a selfie in the elevator and then another one in the hallway. 

We had a costume parade in the afternoon. That’s when we won first prize. Yay!

October and Harvest Festival time is an awesome time of the year! Always a good time with friends, making memories and sharing smiles. Everyday in October is awesome.

Today I am grateful for dressing up on Halloween, laughing and taking selfies with my friends.