This cake I recently made for my sister's birthday is the epitome of Fall (for me, at least). It highlights all of my favorite things that I associate with the season: nuts (I love all nuts, but acorns are my favorite), pumpkin spice (the aroma and the flavor are unbeatable!), and brightly colored leaves (Maple in particular).
I took cues from the book Hello, Cupcake for almost all aspects of this cake. I used its Pumpkin Spice recipe and my own recipe for cream cheese frosting. A note about cream cheese frosting: it's kinda translucent so you have to add a pretty hefty layer if you're covering a dark-colored cake. The more frosting the better, I say, so no biggie.
I also followed the book's method for making candy leaves - with just one alteration. I tried using real leaves like the authors suggested but I had major issues with them getting inexorably stuck to the candy. Very frustrating! Luckily I had plenty of candy melts and using some fake leaves from the dollar store did the trick! I'd say that close to half of them broke during handling, but they're so easy and quick that we just made more than we needed. Besides, the mistakes melt in your mouth and make the process even more enjoyable!
Again, we (I'm saying "we" because I had my daughter alongside me throughout the process) used Hello Cupcake's method for making little acorns out of Kraft caramels...with another slight alteration. I thought the addition of sprinkles made them too bulky. The dipped chocolate by itself makes a mighty fine acorn cap, don't you think?
There were plenty of caramels for my daughter to experiment with while I was acorn-crafting. She made a lot of worm shapes that she formed into letters - mostly "L" and "U." Her creations bore a striking resemblance to Barbie limbs! The people at Kraft must've used Barbie's skin tone as inspiration for their caramel color because it's an exact match. I wish I'd taken a photo of the tray of Barbie body parts in our fridge.