Feature – a taste of autumn

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Delicious fall treats sweeten the season

As colorful leaves surround us and a crispness fills the air, we celebrate the joys of the fall season: comfy clothes, football games and amazing seasonal foods. Thankfully there is no shortage of fall treats available in the Naperville area. Here’s a sample of some local seasonal offerings, as well as a few fall recipes you can try at home.

Smallcakes Photos for Jeff Martin

Smallcakes Photos for Jeff Martin

Smallcakes, A Cupcakery & Creamery

Robert and Jill Watson, owners of Smallcakes, also create special fall treats to celebrate the season. “We feature our pumpkin cupcake daily in October. We also rotate different fall flavors including: apple cobbler, apple orchard, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cookies and cream, sweet potato, sweet potato casserole, fall pumpkin ale and the everything fall cupcake,” Watson explains. “We also roll out our homemade pumpkin pie and apple pie ice cream.” Two fall customer favorites are their pumpkin and caramel apple pie cupcakes.

Infamous Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cardamom Buttercream

Featured in their Buttercream Dream Cookbook by Jeff Martin:

Cupcake ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground allspice

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

½ tsp baking power

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter,
at room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup canned pure pumpkin purée

tsp pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12” muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add pumpkin and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each addition is incorporated before adding the next. Add flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.

Fill each cupcake liner three-quarters full with batter. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Cardamom Butter cream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tbs pure vanilla extract

2 tsp ground cardamom

¼ cup whole milk

cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat together the butter, vanilla, cardamom and milk. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until thoroughly combined and smooth.

Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe a swirl of frosting on top of each cupcake. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to three days.

NMAG01016_FeatureTasteOfAutumn_DarkHorseCookies_800pxDark Horse Pastries

“When the weather changes, different fruits and vegetables become more available. As a chef, I tend to roll with what Mother Nature is giving us,” says Terrell Cole, executive chef of Dark Horse Pastries in downtown Naperville. “Some fall desserts we offer include bread puddings, white chocolate pumpkin cheesecakes, chocolate bourbon pecan pie and soft ginger cookies.”

Cole’s recipe for soft ginger cookies

3/4 cup soft butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 tbs water

1 whole egg

21/4 cup flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tbs cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

Combine and add all the wet ingredients (mixing the molasses with water makes it easier to add).

Combine and add all the dry ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.

NMAG01016_FeatureTasteOfAutumn_EggHarborPumpkinPancakes_800pxEgg Harbor Cafe

Egg Harbor changes its menu four times a year. “We incorporate certain fruits, meats, French toasts, pancakes and soups to match the season,” said Tara Muir, manager of Egg Harbor Café. “This fall we are featuring some of our favorites. Our pot roast sandwich features tender juicy pot roast, with sautéed roasted onions, melted mozzarella cheese on a fresh bakery bun. Our pumpkin pancakes are made with our homemade pumpkin batter that is grilled to perfection, filled with sugar pecans, and topped with cinnamon butter and whipped cream. Our fall specialty drinks include toasted praline latte and delicious fall-flavored coffees such as apple cobbler, autumn spice, peanut butter crunch, pumpkin spice, caramel pecan scones and chocolate caramel truffle to name a few.”

Great Harvest Bread Company

“This time of year, my thoughts turn to apples, pumpkin and all the spices that go so well with them like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger,” says Michael Nikodem owner of Naperville’s Great Harvest Bread Company. “From September through November, we bake our fall favorites like autumn apple bread, pumpkin swirl bread and pumpkin spice cookies.”

Nikodem’s recipe for caramel apple pancakes

medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced ½-inch thick

cups Great Harvest Pancake Mix (sold at Great Harvest)


cups water

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

tbs melted unsalted butter

4 tbs unsalted butter

¼ cup honey

cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 tbs water

¼ cup brown sugar

cup pecans or

powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place a 10–12” oven-safe non-stick skillet, well-seasoned cast iron or stainless steel pan over a medium flame on the stove to preheat.

In a medium bowl, gently mix together pancake mix, 1½ cups of water, vanilla, egg, melted butter, cinnamon and nutmeg until just blended and small lumps still appear. Let sit at least five minutes to thicken.

Add the remaining four tablespoons of butter, honey, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and tablespoon of water to the skillet. Stir to coat the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or a heat-proof rubber spatula. Allow to cook, stirring constantly 8 to 10 minutes until moisture has evaporated and mixture is a deep caramel color. This mixture will be extremely hot, so use caution.

Immediately add apples carefully and stir to coat. Allow to cook for an additional minute until the apples are slightly softened.

Pour in the prepared batter and spread evenly over the apples. Sprinkle the top with the remaining ¼ cup brown sugar and the nuts. Return the pan to the oven and bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. The baking time varies depending on oven and pan size.

Allow to cool for a few minutes. Place a round plate underneath and carefully invert the pancake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, cut into wedges and serve.