Thanksgiving is a time of tradition when the family comes together for a feast, typically consisting of the same dishes year after year. Even if your grandma makes the best stuffing and your Great Aunt Wilma makes the most fabulous thanksgiving side dish recipes in the country, it might be nice to spice up the menu this year. Little changes are all that's necessary – and so easy to implement – when you have some delicious and distinctive cupcake recipes to work from.

Serve up any or all of these sweet specialties and make the holiday extraordinary; plus, they're the perfect size when you want just a little something after a huge Thanksgiving dinner. There's no need to forego the pies altogether, but you may find they take a back seat to these sweet, petite treats.

Pumpkin Delights

These little cakes bring a big burst of autumn flavor with the pleasing tastes of pumpkin and spice. Like a cross between a pumpkin pie and a pumpkin cheesecake, they're a great alternative when you want dessert that's a little different. Reduce the guilt when you reduce the fat by using Neufchatel cheese instead of traditional cream cheese.
Ingredients

·       1 pkg. (2-layer size) spice cake mix
·       1 cup sour cream
·       1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
·       1/4 cup oil
·       3 eggs
·       1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
·       1/4 cup butter, softened
·       1 tsp. vanilla
·       1 pkg. (16 oz.) powdered sugar
·       1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Directions
·       Heat oven to 350ºF.
·       Beat first 5 ingredients with mixer until blended; spoon into 24 paper-lined muffin cups.
·       Bake 20 to 22 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min.; remove from pans. Cool completely.
·       Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until blended. Gradually beat in sugar. Blend in cinnamon. Spread over cupcakes.
Red Velvet Petites
Maybe it's the deep red hue or the decadent combination of chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting. Either way, nothing says "holidays" like red velvet cupcakes. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to place a hole in the top of each cupcake to make filling them easy.
Ingredients
·       1 pkg. (2-layer size) red velvet cake mix
·       1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) chocolate instant pudding
·       1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
·       1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
·       1 pkg. (16 oz.) powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
·       1 cup thawed nondairy whipped topping
·       1 square white chocolate, shaved into curls
Directions
·       Prepare cake batter and bake as directed on package for 24 cupcakes, blending dry pudding mix into batter before spooning into prepared muffin cups. Cool.
·       Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Gradually beat in sugar. Whisk in whipped topping. Spoon 1-1/2 cups into small freezer-weight resealable plastic bag; seal bag. Cut small corner off bottom of bag. Insert tip of bag into top of each cupcake to pipe about 1 Tbsp. frosting into center of cupcake.
·       Frost cupcakes with remaining frosting. Top with chocolate curls. Keep refrigerated.
Mini Boston Cream Pies
Thanksgiving dinner guests will feel extra special when you serve everyone their own individual Boston Cream Pies. They'll be impressed with the elegant dessert and you'll be the only one who knows how easy they are to make. Sift a light dusting of powdered sugar and cocoa powder over a paper doily placed on each dessert plate before setting the cupcakes on them to serve.
Ingredients
·       1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
·       1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) vanilla flavored instant pudding
·       1 cup cold milk
·       1-1/2 cups thawed nondairy whipped topping, divided
·       4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
Directions
·       Heat oven to 350ºF.
·       Prepare cake batter and bake as directed on package for 24 cupcakes. Cool completely.
·       Beat pudding mix and milk with whisk 2 min. Let stand 5 min. Meanwhile, use serrated knife to cut cupcakes horizontally in half. Whisk 1/2 cup whipped topping into pudding; spoon onto bottom halves of cupcakes, using about 1 Tbsp. for each. Cover with cupcake tops.
·       Microwave remaining whipped topping and chocolate in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until blended. Let stand 15 min.; spread onto cupcakes. Refrigerate 15 min.
Chocolatey-Peanut Butter Cupcake Gems
A childhood favorite flavor combination meets sophisticated presentation when you pipe a silky peanut butter and pudding center into each moist, chocolate cupcake. A sure-fire favorite, these petite cupfuls of peanuty, chocolaty goodness are certain to become a new holiday tradition. Let these cupcakes cool completely before finishing them to prevent the filling and the glaze from melting.
Ingredients
·       1 pkg. (2-layer size) devil's food cake mix
·       1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) vanilla flavor instant pudding
·       1 cup cold milk
·       1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
·       1-1/2 cups thawed non-dairy whipped topping
·       4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
·       1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
Directions
·       Heat oven to 350°F.
·       Prepare cake batter and bake in 24 paper-lined muffin cups as directed on package. Cool 30 min. (Cupcakes still need to be warm to fill.)
·       Beat pudding mix and milk with whisk 2 min. Add peanut butter; mix well. Spoon into small freezer-weight resealable plastic bag; seal bag. Snip off one corner from bottom of bag. Insert tip of bag into center of each cupcake; pipe in about 1 Tbsp. filling.
·       Microwave whipped topping and chocolate in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 min. or until chocolate is melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 1 min. Dip tops of cupcakes in glaze; sprinkle with nuts.



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