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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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There’s something about the smell of pumpkin that just screams autumn. The warm mix of spices and pale orange color seems to always bring me back to when I was younger and went to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving, passing around beets, mashed potatoes, kielbasa and my Aunt Carol’s pumpkin roll. We sat around three tables lined up, laughing and eating. Hearts warm and bellies full, a few adults would nod off one by one and us children would contemplate our Christmas lists for the upcoming month.

As I got older, I spent less time worrying about what I’d get for Christmas and more time enjoying the gifts the season brought me- warm doughnuts from the cider mill, bundling up in sweatshirts to go apple picking, bringing in firewood for the fireplace, and the brilliant colors of the leaves as they changed. I miss the golden yellows, rich oranges, and reds ranging from bright scarlet to crimson. I miss Michigan.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Texas. I love the people, I love their pride for Texas, and their unconditional love for it. I love their kindness, the hospitality. I love my college’s traditions, the sense of family I get every time I attend a football game. I can see myself living here for years to come. But deciding to attend college here has done a complete flip on what I’m use to. I doubt I can remember what a pine tree looks like, and I’m sure chipmunks are extinct. I’ve eaten more mexican and seafood this past month than I have in several months back home. Real cowboys exist, and the weather seems to remain a constant, comfortable temperature. However, being the oddball northerner I am, I wear shorts and a tank top on this “brisk” 78 degree day, whereas my fellow college students wear jeans and sweatshirts. I love Texas so much, but I can’t help but miss what I grew up on.

Last weekend I visited my father and decided to celebrate the month of October with pumpkin cupcakes. Ever since the end of September I’ve been so excited for all things autumn and Halloween- pumpkin pie being top on this list. However, without the changing colors of leaves or dropping of temperatures to remind me that it is, in fact, autumn, pumpkin cupcakes seemed like the perfect fix to my minor homesickness. And they really did satisfy. Subtly spicy and extremely moist cake, creamy frosting that isn’t overly sugary, they brought me back to every Thanksgiving spent with my family. Just what I need after spending my days in the dorms and library, studying for midterms.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
From Brown Eyed Baker

I cut the recipe in half to make approx. 18 cupcakes, but this recipe is the full which makes around 32. And let me tell you, 32 would be plenty fine with me! They’re so delicious!


4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2½ cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1½ cups canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

To Make the Cupcakes:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until just combined. Add pumpkin; beat until just combined.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be refrigerated up to 3 days in airtight containers.

4. To finish, use an offset spatula or a pastry bag fitted with a decorated tip to top the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

To Make the Frosting:

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, ½ cup at a time, and then vanilla, and mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 3 days in an airtight container; before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again.


7 responses »

  1. from someone who dislikes pumpkin pie – these were excellent…

  2. Finally a pumpkin dessert I can embrace. Thanks GREG

  3. YUM – I have been so into pumpkin this year, very exciting. And i didn’t think i liked pumpkin 🙂

  4. mmmm, going to bookmark this (along with the multitudes of other pumpkin recipes i seem to have collected) for later!

  5. Miss your cooking. These pumpkin cakes look fabulous.

  6. I can smell a hint of autumn from these pictures, all the way from singapore! (: great cupcakes!

  7. Wow. All your food looks good. I’ll be back!


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