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Sweet Treats

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We here at LAist are unabashed fans of Halloween. It is the one holiday that inspires us to go completely Martha Stewart, from homemade decorations and yummy punches to fresh-baked goodies for guests and ghouls alike who come along for the celebration. This year, besides the Skewered Tortellini with Lemon-Parmesan Creme Fraiçhe, Marinated Mozzarella and Pomegranate Punch, we wanted to entice our guests with something sweet: Pumpkin-Gingerbread Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Icing.

These little beauties are just sweet enough to leave room for candy, can be made vegan via some simple substitutions, and come out the oven moist, golden and delicious. We made a few modifications to the original recipe, so look below for our exact steps.

Pumpkin-Gingerbread Cupcakes
2 cups sifted unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup natural cane sugar
2 teaspoons ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin

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Preheat oven to 350°. Line a muffin pan (we used a mini muffin pan) with cupcake liners, or grease and flour the pan to avoid sticking.

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar and spices. In another bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, vanilla and pumpkin until well blended (the consistency should resemble pudding). Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir until combined.

Drop spoonfulls of batter into the prepared pan—fill 3/4 of the way for each cup—and bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool 15 minutes and frost with Maple Cream Cheese Icing, below.

One batch makes about 35 mini cupcakes.

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Maple Cream Cheese Icing
4 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon natural almond flavoring

Cream butter and cream cheese together until well blended. Gradually add maple syrup to taste, then stir in almond flavoring.

We applied the frosting by placing it in a plastic bag, snipping off a corner and squeezing a dollop onto each cupcake, then decorating with some purple and orange decorative sugar.