nosh friday: pumpkin cupcakes with maple-cream cheese frosting
I have found cupcake nirvana and its name is pumpkin.
Holy mother of sweet mercy. I’m glad I only made a half-batch of these, otherwise someone would have found me, slumped in the fetal position, unconscious from cupcake overdose, with frosting all over my face (and a smile…). These are the PERFECT fall treat — definitely what my friend Katie would refer to as “crack-cakes.” If you can find any pumpkin in the stores (pumpkin shortage, eek!), stock up like it’s Y2K — you won’t want to miss these. (Though really, you could easily substitute butternut squash or sweet potato puree for similar results.)
I tested this particular recipe today, because guess what?! I am catering my first party this coming weekend (!!!!!!) and part of the menu is 40 of these little beauties. They are so soft and hit all the right notes with spice and just a little sweetness, and will be perfect for this autumn party. I am so excited/incredibly nervous about my first independent gig — I can’t believe I get paid to bake in my own kitchen while dancing like a maniac to the Glee soundtrack (third consecutive mention! OBSESSED, much?).
I will say that the maple in the frosting is not very pronounced at all; I can hardly taste it. I would suggest either up-ing the amount of maple syrup or give maple extract a try. In any case, these cupcakes are simply heaven-sent.
Happy fall, y’all!
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting
From Smitten Kitchen
Makes 20 cupcakes
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pans
1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (trust the recipe, it doesn’t taste weird, promise)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (maybe up this to 1/3 cup?)
Preheat the oven to 350° (175°C). Line 2 cupcake pans with 20 liners.
In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.
Add the eggs 1 at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — you’re looking to get them 3/4 full. Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles.
Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely. In a stand mixer, beat all the ingredients for the frosting on medium until fluffy. Frost the cooled cupcakes with whatever pizazz you like — as you can see, I tried several different styles.
P.S. Refrigerate any extras. Cream cheese frosting WILL mold after awhile.
P.P.S. Thanks for your patience, as this is technically Sunday night, not Friday. We’ll be back on schedule for the coming week!