Amazing Pumpkin Cupcakes

by Elissa

This is not exactly a unique attribute, but I love cupcakes--both eating them and making them. I've made cupcakes for weddings, holiday parties, and more birthdays than I can count. I have several tried and true recipes that never fail me, but I'm always on the lookout for new recipes.

I recently had the honor of baking cupcakes for a friend's daughter's first birthday party. The birthday girl loves pumpkin bread, so I decided to attempt pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. After looking around some, I decided to adapt this recipe from Annie's Eats. I fiddled with the spices, reduced the leavening, and added some whole grain flour, and I couldn't believe how good the results were. 

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The cake was moist, light, and nicely spiced. Cream cheese frosting is always a crowd-pleaser, and I used a star tip to make the dollops of frosting a little cuter.

Star tip

Star tip

I've always shied away from any complicated decorating techniques--my artistic skills leave a great deal to be desired. But this technique is so easy it really does not require any special skill. The star tip is perfect for mini-cupcakes, as one little star perfectly fills the top of each mini. For the full-sized cupcakes I did three stars on top of each cake.  Believe it or not, once you get into a rhythm it actually is faster to frost cupcakes with the star tip than to use a knife to spread.

Tray of cupcakes ready for transport

Tray of cupcakes ready for transport

These are perfect cupcakes for any occasion in fall or winter, and they are quite easy to make--the batter comes together really quickly.

Pumpkin Cupcakes (makes 2 dozen full-sized cupcakes or at least 4 dozen minis)

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 heaping tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

heaping 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 /2 tsp. salt

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree

1 cup sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup canola  oil

4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake pan with liners. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars, oil and pumpkin. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then gently fold in the dry ingredients. Fill the cupcake wells about 2/3 of the way full. Bake until cooked through, 16-20 minutes.

Cream cheese frosting

1 8 oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups confectioners sugar

Use an electric mixer to combine the butter and cream cheese. Add the vanilla extract and gradually add the confectioners sugar. I usually start tasting after I've added 2 cups and stop when it tastes sweet enough--usually between two and three cups. To make star shapes, put a star tip into a piping bag or a gallon ziplock bag. Fill the bag  with the frosting and dollop away!