Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


…Ok…Halloween is not one of my favored holidays.  Call me a “scaredy- cat” if you will but I’ve always felt slightly uneasy about this ghost honored tradition.  The ever so slight viewing of a horror film preview (yes, I said preview) can disturb me for weeks and FORGET about haunted houses…the casual thought of them sends chills down my spine and frightens me to the core.  Now just because I don’t adore ghosts and goblins, does not mean that I don’t consume my share (or more) of candy and sweets during this sugar crazed celebration.  It holds true as the one occasion where I can somehow justify mass consumption of candy, of any kind, merely because of its presence in the large bowl nearby.

All fear aside, Fall is absolutely my favorite season of all and I would never pass up the opportunity to bake something special for this festive time of year.  For instance, I happen to have quite a lot of adoration for pumpkins, particularly when combined with a little sugar and spice.  As the air outdoors becomes crisp and cool and the landscape begins its transformation into winter, I can’t help but imagine snuggling up next to a warm cozy fire while enjoying some spiced pumpkin cupcakes.  The spice in these cupcakes seems to embody everything that I love about this breathtaking season.  While the cupcakes are incredible on their own, I thought that a garnish could add a little something extra to the presentation…perhaps some Pumpkin Seed Brittle…oh my.  What was intended as a simple embellishment, battled to steal the spotlight!  This brittle is amazingly good with a wonderful caramelized-buttery-cinnamon flavor and if you’re a fan of brittle, you won’t be able to resist it…trust me.

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting                                                                                                                                               {Print Recipe}

Yield: 24-27 standard sized cupcakes

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder (-1/8 tsp for high altitude)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground allspice

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp cloves

½ tsp salt

1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin (15 oz. can, not pie filling)

¾ cup well-shaken buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, until well incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour and pumpkin alternately, beginning and ending with the flour, and mix until the batter is just combined.

Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners about ½ full and bake about 18-20 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool the cupcakes on a rack completely prior to frosting.

Recipe adapted from The Best of Gourmet


Cream Cheese Frosting:

Yield: Frosts 24-30 cupcakes

2-8 oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

2 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream

Beat the cream cheese and butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium high speed until light and fluffy.  Decrease the speed to low and slowly add the confectioner’s sugar until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the vanilla and the heavy whipping cream and mix until smooth.

Pumpkin Seed Brittle:

Yield: 1 ¾ lbs or (28) 1 oz. servings

¼  cup butter, cut into chunks

1 tsp baking soda

1 Tbsp vanilla

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp salt

2 ½ cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1 ½ cups toasted hulled pumpkin seeds

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly butter and set aside.  Place pumpkin seeds in a large sauté pan and heat over medium-low heat to toast, about 5-8 minutes.  Make sure to shake or stir the seeds occasionally to ensure even toasting.  Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, stir the baking soda in the vanilla to dissolve and also set aside.  In another bowl, mix together the cinnamon and salt.  This will help the cinnamon to distribute evenly when stirred into the sugar mixture.  Have all of your ingredients measured and ready to go as once the sugar reaches it’s temperature, things move quickly!

In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, use a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to stir together the sugar, ½ cup water, corn syrup and the butter (1/4 cup).  Heat the mixture until the butter is completely melted and the sugar is dissolved.  Increase the heat to medium and boil the sugar mixture, stirring occasionally, until it turns a deep amber and registers 335 to 340 degrees F on a candy thermometer.  This step takes anywhere from 5-12 minutes.  Keep a close eye on it to ensure that it doesn’t burn.

Remove the sugar mixture from the heat and carefully stir in the vanilla and cinnamon mixtures (they will bubble up).  Immediately stir in the toasted pumpkin seeds and pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a spatula or wooden spoon to spread evenly.  Let the brittle cool at room temperature for about 30-40 minutes.

Gently break the brittle into chunks and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Trust me though; it won’t last that long.

Recipe from Sunset Magazine


6 thoughts on “Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. UG, wish I was nibbling on a piece of your pumpkin seed brittle instead of this Butterfinger!! AND how could I have possibly not taken you up on your offer to bring these delightful cupcakes to our Halloween party?!!?! What was I thinking?!!!


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