I’ve made mention before that I’m not the biggest coffee fan; I’m coming around to it, but I certainly don’t crave it or make a habit of drinking it on a daily basis. However, I do love coffee-flavored baked goods. So weird, right?! It also so happens that I love pumpkin… and sky-high clouds of frosting. It’s been years since I first started seeing versions of Starbucks’ popular pumpkin spice latte in cupcake form. I finally whipped up a batch of my own this week and, seriously, I could eat the entire dozen all by myself. No help required. These taste like spiced pumpkin cupcakes spiked with a shot of coffee and topped with perhaps the most amazing whipped cream frosting to ever touch my lips.
If you’ve made my traditional pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, you know they are absolutely bursting with pumpkin flavor; it’s front and center. These pumpkin spice latte cupcakes are a little different in that pumpkin shares the stage with coffee, but the combination of the two is just fabulous together. It’s perfectly balanced and the frosting is the ultimate complement. The traditional drink is usually topped with fresh whipped cream, and while plain ol’ sweetened whipped cream is great for topping drinks, fruit and pie, I like something with a little more substance for my cupcakes.
I wanted a frosting that tasted predominantly like whipped cream, but that had some oomph to it so I could pile it high in pretty swirls on top of the cupcakes. I added cream cheese to the frosting before whipping it into peaks; this turned out to be perfect. You can taste just a hint of the cream cheese (and we all know how perfect it is with pumpkin!) and the heavy cream whipped up into wonderful billowy peaks that stayed perfectly stiff when I piped it. Success!
Throw a little sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of caramel on top, and you’ve got a serious masterpiece.
I may have just found my favorite fall cupcake. I’m in love… and I don’t want to share!
(I totally got frosting all over my nose when I bit into that cupcake!)
One year ago: Pumpkin Seed Brittle with Vanilla Bean and Cardamom
Two years ago: Creamy Potato and Leek Soup
Three years ago: The Best Chocolate Buttercream for Cupcakes
Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18 to 22 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
A riff on the popular Starbucks drink.. coffee-infused pumpkin cupcakes brushed with coffee and topped with whipped cream frosting.
For the Cupcakes:
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
4½ teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
¾ cup canned pumpkin
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup brewed coffee, for brushing
For the Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1. Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, both sugars and the vegetable oil until completely combined, making sure to break up any chunks of brown sugar so no lumps remain. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour mixture in two additions, folding with a rubber spatula until no flour pockets remain.
4. Divide the batter between the baking cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. While the cupcakes are still warm, brush the tops with the brewed coffee. Let each coat soak in before applying the next. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
5. Make the Frosting: On medium speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixer with the whisk attachment until smooth and completely combined, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the heavy cream, scrape the sides of the bowl, then increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form.
6. Assemble the Cupcakes: Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes, then sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with caramel sauce, if desired. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Note: I had a little bit of frosting leftover, and as you can see, I piled it high on each cupcake. I always believe that more is better when it comes to frosting, but if you prefer less, you can scale it down.