Soft, buttery pumpkin cupcakes with a perfectly sweet brown sugar cream cheese frosting.
I have been dying to share this recipe with you for a while now, but I held off until after Labor Day, which seems to be generally accepted as the unofficial start of Fall.
I got so much flak from my sisters for making a pumpkin recipe this early. Even Jaclyn, who begged me for all things pumpkin spice last year is now asking me for cookie dough desserts instead(as if I don’t have enough of those!).
But here’s the thing about being a food blogger… if I want my Fall recipes to be seen in Fall and not in Winter, I have to start getting them out there now. In fact, I probably should have started last month, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that to you (or to summertime).
So I apologize if you’re feeling a little pumpkin-spice-sensitive right now and I have to warn you that there are definitely more pumpkin recipes coming up in the not-too-distant future, but right now let’s dig on in to these deliriously amazing pumpkin cupcakes and their brown sugar cream cheese frosting.
First thing’s first: for these cupcakes we are using butter. Real, unsalted butter.
I’ve mentioned before that I have a general preference for using oil instead of butter in my cakes and cupcakes. It makes the texture lighter, softer, and usually I’m using other flavors like banana or chocolate that make up for anything that might be missing by omitting the butter. You would think that pumpkin & pumpkin spice would be sufficient to provide enough flavor that I could get away with using oil here.
And that’s technically true, we could get away with using oil, but the thing I’ve found about pumpkin is that it really plays nicely with butter. And that buttery pumpkin spice flavor cannot be beat. Also, thanks to the moisture from the pumpkin puree, we don’t lose any softness here.
So butter it is. Melted first to make sure every molecule of these cupcakes is buttery deliciousness.
With all this buttery goodness, the sugars, vanilla, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin spice(!), your whole kitchen is going to smell amazing by the time these are done baking.
As for the frosting (I love a good cream cheese frosting), I gave these some extra flavor by using brown sugar as an ingredient for a very subtle molasses flavor, it definitely adds some depth (and I like to think some extra Fall flavor).
I also used real vanilla bean paste (if you look closely at the frosting you can see the vanilla bean flecks), but you can just use vanilla extract if that’s all you happen to have in your pantry — they’ll still be delicious!
And in case you were wondering, and all of my sisters’ protests were quickly silenced with a single bite.
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter cut into pieces, 165g
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 150g
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar 100g
- 1/4 cup brown sugar 50g
- 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten (room temperature preferred)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 7.5 ml
- 1 cup pumpkin puree 225g
- 2 Tablespoons milk 30ml
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup butter softened, 110g
- 8 oz cream cheese softened, 226g
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar -
- 1 teaspoon Rodelle vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5ml)
- 3 cups powdered sugar 375g
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream 30ml
- Preheat oven to 350F (177C) and line a muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
- Place your butter pieces in a large, microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Set aside (you want the butter to cool down so it's not too hot before you add the sugar -- too hot butter could cook your eggs or melt your sugar and ruin your cupcakes)
- In a large bowl combine flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon. Whisk until well-combined. Set aside.
- Return to your bowl with the melted butter and ensure that it is not hot to the touch. Add eggs and vanilla, stir well.
- Add pumpkin puree and milk and stir until completely combined.
- Gradually stir your dry ingredients into your wet until completely combined, taking care to not overmix the batter.
- Evenly divide cupcake batter into prepared muffin tins (filling eacha bout 2/3-3/4 full) and bake on 350 for 20 minutes (toothpick inserted in center should come out mostly clean with only few crumbs).
- Allow to cupcakes to cool completely before icing.
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using an electric mixer) beat together cream cheese and butter, until well-creamed.
- Add brown sugar and vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract) and beat on medium-high speed until well-combined (about 15-30 seconds). Pause mixer to scrape down sides of bowl, and then beat again to make sure all ingredients are combined.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually, about 1/2 cup at a time, add powdered sugar until combined. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl again.
- Add heavy cream and beat on high speed for 30 seconds -- until frosting is smooth and silky. Scrape down sides of bowl once more and beat briefly.
- Spread or pipe frosting over cooled cupcakes.
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