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Halloween Cupcakes
From Family Circle Best-Ever Cakes & Cookies

The "cobwebs" cloaking the cupcake tops are easier to make than they look — just pipe a thin spiral of melted chocolate and then drag the tip of a sharp knife lightly from center to edge. 

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
4 eggs
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans (6 ounces)

For the Frosting:

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1 box (1 pound) confectioners' sugar

For the Decorations:

Candy sprinkles in seasonal colors
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips for cobwebs

Instructions:

Prepare cupcakes: Heat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line cups in 2 standard 12-muffin pans with paper liners.

Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt into a medium-size bowl.

With a mixer on medium speed, beat together sugar and butter in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in pumpkin — mixture may took a little curdled.

On low speed, beat flour mixture into pumpkin mixture just until blended. Stir in pecans by hand. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups.

Bake in heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Prepare frosting:

On medium speed, beat together cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in orange juice concentrate and orange extract. On low speed, gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until smooth and well blended.

Spread top of each cupcake with about 2 tablespoons frosting. Scatter sprinkles on tops of 12 cupcakes, mixing colors as desired. Reserve remaining 12 cupcakes for "cobweb" decoration.

Prepare cobwebs:

Melt chocolate chips in top of a double boiler over barely simmering, not boiling, water, stirring until smooth. Spoon into a small plastic food-storage bag. Snip off a very small corner. Starting in center and ending at edge, pipe chocolate in a spiral on top of each cupcake. To create a cobweb pattern, lightly drag tip of a paring knife or wooden pick through spiral from center to edge; repeat 7 or 8 times, in wheel-spoke fashion.

Yield: Makes 24 cupcakes



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