If you were keeping an eye on my Instagram and Twitter at the end of last month, you probably know that in September, I got to visit the Duncan Hines Test Kitchen for the SECOND year in a row. It was such a fantastic experience the first year around, so I knew the second year would be amazing!
After signing a very strict non-disclosure agreement, we were all allowed to do some special taste testing of the latest and greatest that is coming soon from Duncan Hines. While I can’t spill the beans on EVERYTHING just yet… I CAN show you this delicious product, which has already been hitting stores nationwide. It’s something I’ve been waiting for and excited about for SO long! Duncan Hines, as part of their Decadent Mixes line, has released a brand new Pumpkin Spice Cupcake mix, complete with cupcake mix, frosting, and a pastry bag to make filling and piping easy without you needing to buy additional supplies.
While I was in New Jersey, I dropped a little hint on Twitter about a tip that Chef Joe gave us during an exclusive baking demonstration for those of us who were there… and that is how to make a cake mix pie crust. Yup, that’s right,you can make a pie crust out of cake mix!
Well, I decided to make a little adaptation to his recipe, and have some fun experimenting with it, and I came up with something that I know will be a hit at any fall party. In fact, it’s what I’m taking for Thanksgiving dinner this year, along with my Better Than Pumpkin Pie Dessert from last year. There’s just something about a twist on a classic like pumpkin pie that makes for an extra special dessert.
Luckily, all of the ingredients are either in your kitchen, or in your local grocery store. It isn’t a too-complicated recipe which makes it perfect for a last-minute take-along.
Start by separating your eggs. This is one of the more complicated parts of the recipe because you’ll want to keep these two portions straight… for the crust, you will need 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg. For the filling, it is 2 egg whites and 1 whole egg… which means you’ll separate the first 3 eggs (putting 3 yolks in the cake bowl, 2 whites in the filling bowl, 1 full egg in each bowl, and then saving 1 egg white for another purpose, like a morning omelette or other exciting dish).
From there, it’s all easy.
Begin by preparing your crust. Reserve the frosting mix for later, so just get the cake mix out now. Pour in the cake mix, eggs (3 yolks, 1 egg, in case you forgot), and 1 Tablespoon of softened butter. (Or margarine, or shortening, but… I like butter for this particular crust, but only had margarine on hand and it worked fine). You’ll want to knead the dough while rotating the bowl. If you find that the dough is sticky, add up to 3 Tablespoons more flour, just adding a tiny bit at a time while you knead it. Because this is a cupcake mix, it contains a little bit less volume than the cake mixes; for a cake mix, the additional flour shouldn’t be necessary, but for any of the cupcake mixes, I find the extra flour helps.
Your dough will look, smell, and taste like pumpkin spice. Yummy. The best part of this Duncan Hines mix is how it already comes with the frosting, which provides a crucial part of the recipe, so it really makes the full thing so easy to make and enjoyable.
When your dough is ready, flour a surface and roll your dough out into pie-crust thickness.
Take a biscuit cutter or other 5-inch round cutter and cut your pie crust into circles, leaving for as few scraps as possible.
Just press through like you would any sort of cookie or cut-out.
Lightly grease and flour two to three mini muffin tins (depending on how much crust dough you ate, how thickly you rolled the crust, and how much flour you used in the initial dough, if any), then lightly place the circles into the tins.
Set those aside so you can prepare your filling.
For the filling, it’s just a basic pumpkin pie filling recipe. Take 1 can of your pureed pumpkin, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1 can of evaporated milk, and your eggs from above (2 whites, 1 whole).
Some people prefer to use (or are just very used to using) granulated sugar for their pumpkin pie. I’ve found that the brown sugar lends a richer flavor and more complex taste, pairing well with the cinnamon and spices. It is up to your personal opinion. You may also decide instead of using my egg mixture to use the traditional two whole eggs, but I used the 2 whites and 1 whole to use the remainder of my eggs. It is up to your personal preference about pie filling.
Start by mixing your sugar and spices in a small bowl, and your eggs in a large bowl. Pour the pumpkin and the sugar into the large egg bowl, continuing to mix. Finish by gradually stirring in your evaporated milk.
Put about 1 tablespoon of filling into each unbaked shell.
Bake your mini tarts at 350 for about 10-11 minutes. Remove, and let them cool.
As those cool, prepare your pumpkin spice frosting that came in the Duncan Hines Decadent Pumpkin Spice Cupcake Mix according to the package directions.
I mentioned above that the box mix comes with a pastry bag so you can fill your frosting straight into it without having to purchase bags separately. You can easily just fill this bag, cut the tip off, and use it. I decided to put my Wilton 1M tip into the bag before filling to give a star-shaped frosting puff, but you can choose any large tip you like, or go tip-less!
Just do a slight squeeze until the filling is covered, pulling up slightly, and release.
They’ll look like this!
Yummy… a perfect pumpkin surprise in every bite!
Remember, you can get creative with this and use the crust recipe from Chef Joe at Duncan Hines to make any pie you like, with any Duncan Hines cake mix. Want a cherry pie with chocolate crust? Go for it! Want a set of mini pumpkin pies with a yellow crust? Do it. The sky is the limit, and you can bake any pie you’d like with the recipe above, getting extra creative and having some fun with it.
Tell me in the comments below, what is your favorite fall dessert? Are you a pumpkin pie traditionalist, or do you skip the pumpkin pie and go straight for another treat?
For a printable version of this recipe, go to the Duncan Hines website, which is brand new and has been totally revamped for #bakingseason! Don’t forget to create your own delicious Duncan Hines treats and tell Duncan Hines what #bakingseason means to you on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!