Pumpkin pie is the most common dessert made with pumpkin and it is a good one. The custardy filling is sweet and spicy, and its creamy texture contrasts well with a flaky pastry crust. It’s not the only great pumpkin dessert out there, however, and I would put these Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cinnamon Frosting up near the top of the list. They’re a great dessert for any fall or holiday occasion, because they’re both easy to make and loaded with the warm flavor of pumpkin pie spices.
The cupcakes start with a generous amount of pumpkin puree. I recommend using canned pumpkin puree because it will give you a very consistent result in your baked goods, however fresh pumpkin can be made into a homemade puree if you prefer to use your own pumpkins. The pumpkin is spiced up with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla, then incorporated into a batter that is sweetened with brown sugar – all ingredients that you are likely to find in traditional pumpkin pie. The finished cupcakes are moist and tender, with a great pumpkin flavor. They’re not too sweet, but they are sweet enough that they taste like a cupcake and not a muffin. The crumb is fluffy and tender, and the spices really pop with each bite. You can also substitute in 2 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice for the spices listed in the recipe, if you already have premixed pumpkin pie spice on hand in your pantry.
I topped these cupcakes with a delicious Maple Cinnamon Frosting. Maple syrup and cinnamon in the frosting create a rich flavor that really compliments the pumpkin. I recommend using dark maple syrup or Grade B (syrup may have different labels) for the best flavor. Don’t use pancake syrup, which has an artificial flavor that will just make your frosting taste like breakfast. As an alternative, a plain cream cheese frosting is often used to top pumpkin baked goods and that would be a good choice for this recipe, too. That being said, this frosting is addictive and you’ll probably find yourself using it on other cupcakes throughout the season.
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cinnamon Frosting
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 18 muffin cups (on one or two trays) with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
In a large bowl cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk. Stir in remaining flour mixture and mix just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Divide batter evenly into 18 muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full (if you only have a 12 cup muffin pan, reserve the leftover batter and refill the pan once it has cooled to bake the remaining 6 cupcakes).
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 18 cupcakes.
Maple Cinnamon Frosting
1 cup butter room temperature
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (pref Grade B)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
2 1/2 – 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, beat butter to soften. Blend in maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, vanilla and milk. Gradually blend in the confectioner’s sugar until frosting has a thick, spreadable consistency.
Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.