I love fall, plain and simple. The fall colors, the smell of fires in the fireplaces, the crisp feeling in the air… And the pumpkin-flavored everything! And there’s nothing better than a toasty house filled with the delicious scent of pumpkin spice cupcakes.
Back home in Northern California, the change in season was a very important time for my family. We would head down to a pumpkin farm out in the country to pick out our seasonal pumpkins. And of course, we were also there to gorge ourselves on anything and everything pumpkin.
Pumpkin fudge. Pumpkin coffee. Pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin lollipops. Pumpkin muffins. Pumpkin soup. Pumpkin pie in stacks, and you could watch it being made through glass windows at the bakery. The smells coming out of that place would make you drool within a 100 meter radius. If you or anyone in your family was a baker, you know the smell. Well it was that, times 50.
But my absolute favorite treat there was always the pumpkin bread. It had good spice and flavor to it that tasted like everything fall. The best part of the bread, though, was the pumpkin flavor coupled with the delicious buttercream frosting smothered an inch thick on the top. The complementary flavors were finger-licking good and I could easily finish a loaf on my own (with much remorse, after, to be sure).
Since I wasn’t much for sharing when the bread was made into a full loaf, I realized I’d be more likely to share if it was made into cupcakes, instead. So came about the pumpkin spice cupcake recipe.
But of course, a frosted top is not enough… These pumpkin spice cupcakes are filled with candy corn-colored layered buttercream frosting, making each bit of cupcake absolutely irresistible.
I had been wanting to make these for a while, and needed someone to make them for (so that I don’t end up eating them all by myself). Fortunately, I have some willing volunteers in my boyfriend’s coworkers, so I baked up a batch for them to start October right this fall.
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice or combine the following
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup butter, room temp
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs, room temp
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened (but not melted!)
- 3–4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
- ¼ tsp table salt
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- up to 4 tbsp heavy whipping cream
- Food coloring (yellow and red)
Candy Corn Topper
- Use our recipe for homemade candy corn.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line your muffin tin with muffin tin foils or papers or grease the cups if you’d prefer to go without liners. Combine the nutmeg, ginger, clove, and allspice to create the pumpkin spice. In a medium bowl, sift the flour and add the pumpkin pie spice, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar on medium to high until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, completely beating in each egg before adding the next one. Stir in the milk and pumpkin. Next, stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the cupcake cups, filling each cup to about 3/4 full. Try to get as much of the batter in the center of the cup and none on the sides as possible.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and springy. You don’t want them doughy in the middle, because you have to be able to cut into them smoothly. Take the cupcakes out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Then remove them from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Since the cupcakes HAVE to cool completely, you can use that time to make the frosting. Beat the butter for a few minutes with a mixer at about medium. Add the powdered sugar to the consistency you want, adding it in a cup at a time while the mixer is on the lowest speed. Once the sugar is completely mixed into the butter, increase the speed to medium and add the vanilla, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.
- Take 3/4 cup of the frosting and separate that into two halves into two small bowls. Drop 6 drops of yellow into both bowls. Then drop 3 drops of red into one of the bowls. (Or adjust for the color you would like). Stir each of the bowls (with their own spoons…) very thoroughly. Place the yellow and orange frosting in their own piping bags, and fill a third piping bag with about 1/4 cup of the white frosting. (Quick tip: If you don’t have piping bags and tips, put the frosting into regular zip lock baggies, squish it al to one corner, pinch the corner and use scissors to clip just the corner to make a whole to pipe the frosting through). Set aside the frosting for a minute.
- Take a sharp, short knife (I use a sharp paring knife) and begin cutting into the top of the cupcakes at an angle, so as to cut out a diamond shape. In each cupcake, pipe the frosting in colored layers into the diamond divot you cut out. You can create a candy corn patter by piping in white, then orange, then yellow. You don’t have to fill the cupcake all the way to the top. Leave some room for the top to sit back on it. Take the top of the cupcake and shave off a little of the cake from the bottom, then place the top back onto the cupcake.
- Once all of the cupcakes are filled and topped, take the remainder of the white buttercream frosting and place it in a piping bag and frost the top of the cupcakes. Be careful if you decide to spread it, because the tops may wiggle around a bit.
- If you want, sprinkle a little cinnamon on the frosting. Top all of the frosted cupcakes with candy corns, and viola! You have beautiful candy corn-filled and candy-corn topped pumpkin spice cupcakes!