[This recipe was originally posted in November 2009; I have revamped the recipe, as well as taken new photos. These amazing cupcakes deserved an upgrade!]
I first made pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting nearly five years ago, and I have been loving that flavor combination ever since. While I loved the old cupcakes, I thought that they were a bit too heavy on the spices, causing them to overpower the pumpkin, which I wanted to shine. This updated recipe tastes almost like pumpkin pie in cupcake form – a lot of fabulous pumpkin flavor with some subtle spice undertones. Throw a dollop (well, a little more than a dollop) of cream cheese on top, and you have one utterly fantastic fall dessert.
I mentioned it the first time I made pumpkin cupcakes, and it bear repeating – if you’re looking to add another flavor profile to these cupcakes, adding some maple syrup to the frosting would absolutely take them over the top. I used a similar filling for the pumpkin whoopie pies that I made four years ago. The maple is an awesome complement to both pumpkin and cream cheese, so if you’re a fan, go on ahead and throw some syrup (make sure it’s pure maple syrup!) into your frosting. I’d probably use 2 to 3 tablespoons to start, and taste to see if it’s flavored to your liking. If the consistency is a little too soft, add another ½ to 1 cup of powdered sugar.
If you’re a pumpkin fanatic, a cream cheese frosting fanatic, a fall fanatic, a Thanksgiving fanatic, or any combination thereof, you will absolutely, positively, without a doubt adore these cupcakes.
Make sure you have some folks to share them with, or you might just want to eat them all yourself. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; set aside.
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.
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. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Make the Frosting: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese, vanilla and salt and continue to beat for an additional 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar gradually and mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Using a decorating bag and tip (I used the Ateco #827 tip) or an offset spatula, frost the tops of the cupcakes. (If you like the frosting piled high as pictured, this is the perfect amount of frosting. If you prefer less, you can scale the frosting down.) The cupcakes can stay at room temperature for a few hours, but should be refrigerated for longer-term storage up to 4 days.