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“Secret” Pumpkin Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Chips

Ah Fall…when a young girls fancy turns to thoughts of…pumpkin? Well, if you’re my almost seven year old daughter it does, she’s been begging my for the last week and a half to make her pumpkin bread, and this evening I surprised her with something even better when she got home from Zumba-ing her little butt off. Frankie helped me make these and he firmly insisted we “put some choco in it” so of course I listened and I have to say I am grateful for that two year old palate because these lovely cupcakes wouldn’t be the same without “choco”!

Mmmmm….pumpkin and chocolate…..

Before I made these cupcakes with my underoo clad assistant (“I mix it Mommy!”) I threw together this black bean soup, including one of many monstrous yams I bought at the market last week. These yams, despite their daunting size, have been totally awesome and delicious, and I can’t help but be impressed by a potato that feeds me for THREE meals. And yes, they’re local and organic too.

“Secret” Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

These two dishes have something in common, a secret ingredient or two. Some ingredients come from years of trial and error in the kitchen, some I just thought of today when I opened the fridge and said; hmmm, what ELSE should I put in these? So enjoy! And tell me, what secret ingredients do you like to use?

My “Secret Signature” Black Bean Soup

There are actually a couple secrets hidden in this soup, but most important is cooking the beans to perfection and not adding them in until the soup is served.

  • 1 cup dried black beans
  • 2.5 cups veggie broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 1-2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into medium dice
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp Chocolate syrup (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • chopped cilantro and sour cream and avocado and fresh chopped tomato

Cook the beans. There are a couple different ways to do this, I put the dried beans, the veggie stock and the bay leaf in my pressure cooker for twenty minutes and they come out perfectly. Alternatively you can soak the beans overnight and cook them on the stovetop in the stock with the lid on until tender. Or use canned, but rinse them well. For all beans, after cooking, drain and set aside.

In a large stockpot or soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft and translucent. Add the ginger, garlic and cumin and a little salt and pepper, cook for about 2 more minutes, reduce heat if things start looking too brown. Add the sweet potatoes and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the veggie stock and water and bring to a boil, simmer with the top on until sweet potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Take the lid off and continue to simmer for about 20 more minutes, until broth is reduced. Add the beans, chocolate syrup, lime juice and chopped cilantro, turn off the heat and let the flavors meld for about five minutes. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, fresh tomatoes and more chopped cilantro on top!

“Secret” Pumpkin and Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup hard cider ( I used Woodchuck Ginger Hard Cider!)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease a 12 cup muffin tin with canola oil or butter or whatever other oil you have lying around. In one bowl combine all of the wet ingredients EXCEPT the hard cider. In another bowl sift and combine all the dry ingredients. Make sure your pan is ready and mix the wet ingredients with the dry, then mix in the hard cider and the chocolate chips. Stir just until mixed and then fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes, cooling in pan 5 minutes and then on a rack. These are delicious as is or can be frosted with;

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese (reduced fat is fine)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla.

Whip the above ingredients with a stand mixer until fluffy and then frost the cooled cupcakes, dust with cinnamon…yum!