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We never had pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving when I was growing up. While my mother adopted Thanksgiving with a vengeance when she first discovered it as an immigrant, her nearly-wholesale appropriation stopped short of the dessert course. She never cared for pumpkin pie, probably because she dislikes cloves and allspice, so we usually had some variation on apple pie (pie, strudel, even tarte tatin) instead. As an adult, though, I’ve thrown off my mother’s aversion to the spices usually found in pie, and I’ve also become really fond of pumpkin as a dessert medium, although pie is still not my favorite use for it, partly because really good pie dough without hydrogenated fat is my personal demon and constant nemesis, and partly because there are so many more interesting possibilities for pumpkin.

For the past few years, I’ve been alternating between the flan/creme brulee end and the cake ends of the spectrum. This year, I decided to follow the example of the very inventive Chockylit at Cupcake Bakeshop, because, in addition to being cute, leftover cupcakes would be much easier to take to work than a partially-consumed cake. I used the same recipe for the cakes, but I’m just not convinced by the combination of pumpkin and chocolate. I opted for a mascarpone and cream cheese frosting instead, based on a recipe I’d seen on Everyday Italian (yeah, she’s annoying, but at least she does have a legitimate grounding in terms of both training and Italian cuisine). The results were both yummy and attractive, although next time I might double the amount of frosting, since there was only enough to cover eighteen cupcakes, and not particularly generously, either.

I won’t re-post the cupcake recipe, since I didn’t modify it at all (although it made twenty-four rather than thirty in my muffin tins, probably because I always resist underfilling the cups), but I’ll post the frosting recipe, since I added vanilla and since the Food Network pulls recipes after a while.

Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes enough to lightly frost 18 cupcakes

3 oz cream cheese
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Let the cheeses and butter come to room temperature, then beat together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the mascarpone until combined, then the honey and vanilla extract.

Chill until firm.

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