It was an impromptu gathering and I happen to have some chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer but as usual wanted a non-chocolate option.  It was 5:30 and friends were coming at 6:30 – so it had to be fast and easy.  Ina Garten to the rescue.  These were so easy, so yummy, and perfect for a chilly November night.  When asked for a little bite Chrissi said “No Karen you cannot have even one bite!  These are unbelievably good!”  They then argued which was better – the one with maple icing and heath bar crunchies or just plain with chocolate chips.  I happen to like them both – but the iced ones were so pretty and the heath bar added pizazz and fun.  Of course if you are concerned with nut allergies, skip it.  These would also be great with the addition of fresh cranberries.  Yowza – the sour pop of them combined with the sweet icing and crisp crunchies – well, my mouth is watering right now!

pumpkin spice cupcakes (from Ina Garten’s Foolproof Recipes):

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 extra large eggs (room temp)
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar (lightly packed)
chocolate chips if desired


1/2 cup coarsely chopped heath bars
6 ounces cream cheese, room temp
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
pinch kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray or brush top of a muffin pan (this will prevent tops from sticking) and then line with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar, and the vegetable oil.

Add the dry to the wet and mix until just combined.

Add chocolate chips if you like at this point.  And then you can skip the icing.

Scoop the batter into the prepared tins and bake for 20-25 min – until a toothpick comes out just clean.

Cool completely.  Then spread with the icing (below) and top with the chopped heath bars.  Enjoy!

maple frosting

With the paddle attachment of your mixer (or hand held beaters) – cream the chream cheese, butter, syrup, vanilla and salt on medium speed until very smooth.  Turn the mixer to low – and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

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