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It’s the Great Pumpkin!
November 8, 2010 • Posted by Jennifer Perillo

Everyone has a tried and true tip for getting their kids to try new foods. Parenting magazines are always touting how to please fussy eaters. But, what if we stopped playing tricks? What if we just told kids what they were eating?

Not a novel thought, after all our mothers made one meal and we either ate it or went to bed hungry, right? I’d like to suggest an in between, a more gentle way to ease kids into being adventurous eaters. Let’s start by playing on their terms.

We had a houseful of pumpkins from Halloween festivities, and rather than let them go to waste, I roasted them, scooped the flesh and gave it a whirl in the food processor to make my own pumpkin puree. This is destined to find its way into risotto soon. First, I decided to entice my girls with something every kid loves—cupcakes!

Now, before you think this is some kind of bait and switch, I never lie to my daughters about ingredients. And yes, adding butter and sugar negates the nutritional value, but that is not the point of this experiment. The point is to get them to try a new food in a familiar form. The expectation is that that they will be more open to trying it in that risotto, waffles and a ton of other recipes I have ready and waiting. We might even get a few roasted cubes into them down the road. Remember, food is a control issue, and once you learn to let them take the reigns a little, you just might find they’re more open to trying new things than we thought.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
makes 24

2 sticks (8 ounces) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups (6 ounces) sugar
2 cups (10 ounces) flour
1 teaspoon (4 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) sea salt
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) all spice
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (3.65 ounces) pumpkin puree
3/4 cup (175 ml) milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease muffin tins, or line with baking papers; set aside.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamy. Add the eggs and beat well to combine. Add pumpkin puree and beat for another minute. Add half the flour and spices and beat on low speed to combine. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in half the milk. Repeat with remaining flour and milk.
  3. Spoon into prepared tins, about 2/3 full. Bake standard size cupcakes 18 to 20 minutes and mini-cupcakes 13 to 15 minutes, testing with a toothpick or skewer for doneness, Let cool completely before frosting.
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