Cream-Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes


    * 2 cups sugar
    * 3/4 cup canola oil
    * 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
    * 4 eggs
    * 2 cups all-purpose flour
    * 2 teaspoons baking soda
    * 1 teaspoon salt
    * 1 teaspoon baking powder
    * 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    * 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    * 1 cup milk
    * 1/2 cup shortening
    * 1/4 cup butter, softened
    * 2 cups confectioners' sugar
    * 1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract, optional
    * Whole cloves, optional


    * In a large bowl, combine the sugar, oil, pumpkin and eggs. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and cinnamon; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and beat until well mixed.
    * Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
    * For filling, combine cornstarch and milk in a small saucepan until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; cool to room temperature.
    * In a large bowl, cream the shortening, butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla if desired. Gradually add the cornstarch mixture, beating until smooth.
    * Using a sharp knife, cut a 1-in. circle 1 in. deep in the top of each cupcake. Carefully remove tops and set aside. Spoon or pipe filling into cupcakes. Replace tops. If desired, add a clove "pumpkin stem" to the tops. Yield: about 1-3/4 dozen.