One of my favorite things about fall is our yearly trip to the local pumpkin patch. When it comes to selecting pumpkins to take home I can be really picky! Some are purely decorative (for the front porch), some are for carving spooky jack-o-lantern faces, and others are destined for pies. I can spend hours looking for just the right specimens for our many purposes.
This cake is very much like going to a pumpkin patch– in miniature! It’s decorated with mini cupcakes frosted to look like little pumpkins, so guests can get interactive and choose their own pumpkin. Little kids will appreciate the playfulness of the mini cupcakes, and adults will appreciate a more substantial after-dinner slice.
First, line a mini cupcake tin with nine paper liners. Also, grease and flour a 9x9-inch square baking pan.
Mix up the cake batter as directed on the box, and fill the cupcake papers 3/4 full.
Pour the remaining batter into the 9x9-inch square pan. Bake the cake for about 25 minutes, and the mini cupcakes for 12-15 minutes.
Place about 1/3 of the cream cheese frosting from the container into a small bowl. Mix in red and yellow food color until a light orange color is achieved.
Frost cupcakes and cover with sanding sugar. You can do this by gently dipping the frosting in the sugar, or you can hold the cupcake over a plate and sprinkle the sugar over.
Break pretzel sticks in half and press into the center of each frosted and sugared mini cupcake.
Use a toothpick to impress lines into the sides of the cupcake tops, making the ribs of the pumpkin.
Don’t drag the toothpick tip through the frosting; just press the edge of the toothpick into the icing to make a line. Easy does it!
Tint the remaining cream cheese frosting with green food coloring. Cover the square cake with the green frosting.
Crush chocolate wafers and sprinkle over one corner of the cake. Sprinkle more crushed wafers in the center of the cake. This is a little patch of “dirt” on which the mini cupcake pumpkins will sit.
Arrange pumpkins on the patch of crushed chocolate wafers.
Green sanding sugar and mint sprigs are the finishing touches on this cake.
Just before serving, place mint leaves on the mini pumpkins near the pretzel stems, and arrange mint sprigs around the pumpkins to create the appearance of pumpkin vines.