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The best tasting cupcake screw up I ever made

Updated on July 12, 2016
Penelope Bucket profile image

Penelope Bucket is a professional chef. Her experience includes managing busy ski resort restaurants to beautiful lake side dining.

5 stars from 1 rating of Pumpkin pie cupcakes

Cook Time

Prep time: 12 hours
Cook time: 28 min
Ready in: 12 hours 28 min
Yields: 24-30 cupcakes

The long prep time is simply due to the need for the canned pumpkin to set so that you end up with an amazing pie cupcake.

I have worked in many different locations in my chef journeys. I happen to be working at a great location which had what is called an EDR (employee dining room.) This allowed me to use some of my creative abilities and the employees were my willing subjects

It is pretty hard to screw up using a boxed mix, but anything can happen. I have added many unusual ingredients to box cake mixes adjusting the recipes liquid content so they still bake up correctly.

Ingredients list

1. 1 Box Duncan Heinz cake white or yellow cake mix

2. Vegetable oil

3. Eggs

4. Water

5. 2 cans 15 ounce canned pumpkin

6. Spices, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice

7. Corn starch

8. Half and half and heavy cream

9. Walnuts

10. Vanilla extract

Utensils Needed

1. Mixing bowl

2. Can opener

3. Hand mixer

4. Hand mixer, metal spoon, wire whisk, rubber spatula.

5. Pastry bag and tips

6. Cupcake tins and cupcake liners



  1. In a large bowl mix 1 box yellow or white cake mix and the ingredients listed on the back of the box to dry cake mix.
  2. SPECIAL INSTRUCTION: ADD ONLY 1/2 of the amount of water and oil listed on the box and one extra egg white
  3. Add 1 tsp ground nutmeg 1 tsp
  4. Add 1 tsp ground cloves
  5. Add 1 TBL ground cinnamon
  6. Add 2 TBL spoons pumpkin pie spice, more if you desire.
  7. 2 cans 15 ounce canned pumpkin then begin mixing the batter with a hand mixer
  8. Place cupcake liners in a cupcake pans
  9. Scoop batter into liners to the top
  10. Place in the oven at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes
  11. Remove pie cupcakes from the tin as soon as you are able to touch them
  12. Place the pie cupcakes on a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator for up to 10 hours (This allows the pumpkin to settle into a pie cake.)
  13. Scoop out the center of the pie cupcake and fill prepared walnut cream (Be sure to snack on the center pieces while you work.)
  14. Top the pumpkin pie walnut cream filled cakes with the meringue frosting
  15. Toast lightly with a culinary torch
  16. Feed to others and eat them yourself!
Kitchen aid products in my opinion are one of the best products on the market.  This is the mixer that I own and I love it.  It is easy to clean and my came with its own carry case and in a beautiful red.
Kitchen aid products in my opinion are one of the best products on the market. This is the mixer that I own and I love it. It is easy to clean and my came with its own carry case and in a beautiful red. | Source

I often prefer to use a spoon and a hard wire whisk rather than a hand mixer. I do this to prevent over mixing a over mixed cake batter creates a hard crumbly cake. Hard steel whisks are a must for any chef or cook.

Since my desire was to have a deep pumpkin flavor, I decided to use two cans of canned pumpkin and extra pumpkin pie spice which I just happened to be toting around in my backpack, since the pumpkin spice goes into my protein drink (Yum by the way!).

While I am mixing the ingredients I am asked by one of the student chefs in training, "How do I know the recipe?", to which I replied, "What recipe? I am just making things up as I go, looking for the right consistency before baking." But since you are starting with the box recipe the rest of it is up to the creative chef.

Using a box of white cake mix I began the recipe listed on the back and then removing a half of each the oil and water about of from the recipe on the box to make up for the moisture in the canned pumpkin. Since I love to experiment with things I added 2 cans of canned pumpkin rather than 1.


Walnut Cream

1. 1 pint half and half cream

2. 1 pint heavy whipped cream

3. Add 1 tsp vanilla extract

3. Begin heating on medium heat

4. Chop walnuts

5. Make cornstarch slurry

6. Turn up heat on stove to high

7. Just before cream boils begin adding slurry while whisking

8. Do not stop whisking

9. Once thickening begins turn off burner and remove from heat, continue whisking

10. Add walnuts and whisk somemore

11. Place in refrigerator for half an hour to cool or until you are ready to use it.

The rest of the plan was to put a walnut cream in the center of the cupcake, apparently I seemed to have an autumn theme happening.

To make the walnut cream,

1. Place the heavy whipped cream with the half and half into sace pan.

2. Add the vanilla extract

3. Place pan on the stove to heat at medium temp

using medium heat is to avoid scorching the cream mixture while you are off doing the next couple of things and totally forgetting that you have it on the burner. Since now you are completely involved in chopping the walnuts to just the right size and mixing a corn starch slurry to thicken the cream with.

4. Chop walnuts fine

5. Make corn starch slurry

Once you have your walnuts chopped down fine and are actually done thinking about how good you are with a knife, make an appropriate amount of corn starch slurry then head back to the stove. Side note always make extra slurry to discard, yes this is wasteful but it is easier then stopping to make more once the thickening process has started. If things get to thick add more half and half not more heavy whipped cream.

6. Time to turn up the heat! Yay!

7. Bring the cream mixture close to boiling it will thicken faster and you will need less slurry.

I am a totally suprised I did not want to add booze to this cupcake, maybe in the future I will but I did remember to toss in the chopped walnuts and a bit of vanilla.

8. Begin adding the slurry a bit at a time while constantly whisking. Once the cream is thickened to the consistency you want the cream to be (isn't cream a great word to say out loud?).

9. Place the cream mixture in the fridge to cool, I just put the whole pan in the fridge why dirty another bowl.

So you might ask, what is the right consistency?

Well I happen to like the cream to spill out when I bite into the cake with the possibility of the cream getting on my face rather than being a lump of cream. While remembering that it is going to get a bit thicker in the cooling process and that I need to be either able to scoop the cream with a spoon into the cake without making a mess. Possibly put the cream into something I can use to pour into the cupcake or use a pastry bag for filling the creamy center, my preference is the pastry bag and I often find myself using a spoon. Now you can decide how thick you desire your creamy center to be, to thin back on the stove to continue thicking or add more half and half to thin it.


How do you like your creamy center?

See results
All my helpers
All my helpers | Source

So when the timer went off on the oven and the cakes were pulled out I broke one open as I always do and they seemed to be raw, back in the oven they went. On the second attempt they still seemed to be partially raw WTF I was very sad thinking I might have to throw these what are no longer cakes into the trash, so very very sad. The other cooks hanging around were saying, "No don't do that!" So we took them out of the cupcake pan and placed them upside down on a sheet tray and back into the oven they went. They still came out looking raw, and I really wanted to toss them but nope we put the walnut cream in the center, and I say "we" because now I had helpers all trying and giving ideas on how to save these pumpkin cakes! A meringue frosting was made put on the objects that I no longer considered cupcakes the meringue was then torched because that just looks pretty.

We put these things into the EDR which I was struggling with because most chefs do not put something they think is incomplete out for people to eat (you will be judged!) So I felt I had to let people know I thought they were a bit raw even though they were actually cooked, but my guinea pigs ate them anyway with a variety of comments. I put the rest in the fridge for the night to look at them again in the morning, not sure why or what I might be able to do in the morning but that's what I did.

So the next morning I pulled one of these cakes out of the cooler and decide to just try it and think about how to fix the next attempt. I popped the whole thing in my mouth and what happened next was amazing. My taste buds lit up dancing with the delights of what turned out to be a pie cupcake. The extra pumpkin in the batter wanted to be a pie, but I was looking to make a cake, so pie and cake were arguing about who was going to win. The leaving in the fridge over night let the pie part of the cake set. No longer were they cupcakes that seemed raw they were now a pumpkin pie cupcake filled with walnut cream and topped with torched meringue.

One of the BEST things I put into my mouth ever!

I had to share with the others who helped, and I could not stop myself I ate 6.

How to use a culinary torch

Any other great cooking disasters out there?

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    • WrenchWench profile image

      Wrench Wench 

      2 years ago from Seattle

      I once had a disaster that turned out good the first time... I had meant to make snickerdoodles, but I love to tweak the recipes whenever I think of something that seems like it would be tasty. So this time I thought to add maple syrup, extra butter, and treo ingredients I haven't been able to remember since! So, the first two times I made these cookies, they came out soft in the center, but just hard enough to encase the syrup in the soft center, so when you bit into them, it was like a delicious pancake cookie. Sadly, the last few times I tried to maker these cookies, they turned out horrible with little plastic like bits in them. I know I'm missing something, and will hopefully figure out those missing ingredients some day!

      What a great hub you've written! Thank you for sharing your story and recipe! Can't wait to try it out next time I'm in the mood for baking! =)


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