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Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

When no one wants a cake, but gets excited by the thought of an individual cupcake and has a fall birthday, let this be the recipe you choose. Loaded with flavor and moist, these cupcakes are absolutely worthy of a celebration. And if you roast your own pumpkin for the occasion, it will make these cupcakes even more spectacular.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cupcakes, maple syrup, pumpkin
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Resting time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 17 - 18 cupcakes
Author The Cowgirl Gourmet adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from David Leite


For the cake or cupcakes:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter room temperature (plus more for greasing pans, if making a cake or bread)
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar the recipe called for dark, but I chose light as I did not want the cupcake to be so sugary-tasting
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour this is really important as it makes the cake super light
  • 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 kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large farm fresh eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups pumpkin canned or you may choose to roast a sugar pie pumpkin--see note

For the frosting:

  • Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened (I used one pkg. of regular cream cheese and another 1/3 less fat)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter softened at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup


To make the cupcakes, cake or bread:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners, and another with 6 liners; or grease the cake/loaf pans with butter.
  2. 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 in a medium bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, add the buttermilk and whisk in the vanilla.

  4. Add the eggs one at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each egg is added. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth. Scoop the batter among the cupcakes liners until they are 3/4 full. To remove any air bubbles, rap the pans on the counter once.
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely on racks.

To make the frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer, beat all of the ingredients on medium until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Frost the cupcakes generously.
  2. For a cake, frost the top of one cake, place the other layer on top. Frost the sides and top, swirling decoratively.
  3. Refrigerate the cupcakes or cake 30 minutes to set up the frosting.

Recipe Notes

If you buy a sugar pie pumpkin, and I recommend that you do, all you do is cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, lay it cut-side down on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and roast it for 45 minutes to an hour in a 350 degree oven. Let it cool and then scoop out the flesh. Freeze whatever is leftover.