Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

Warning: it’s going to get all Halloween-y around here next week.  This is a little preview.  I am a total sucker for Halloween stuff.  Normally various holiday displays at stores don’t have quite such an effect on me, but make it orange, black and maybe purple, and I’m all over it.  Which is exactly how I ended up with one of those giant containers of various Halloween sprinkles and sugars.  Really, I could browse the Halloween aisles forever.

I first made these pumpkin cupcakes a few years back and they have been my staple recipe ever since.  The cake is light and tender, with the perfect balance of pumpkin and fall spices.  I have made them with white chocolate cream cheese frosting before but I think I prefer them this way, with just a thin spread of classic cream cheese frosting so the cake is really the star.  I most recently made these as a coworker birthday request and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to use up some of the fun sugars and sprinkles.  Just about 15 more Halloweens and then I’ll be ready to buy another enormous jar.

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes
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Yield: about 24-30 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract (I prefer clear)
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full.  Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Source: Williams Sonoma, frosting adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

58 Responses

  1. i might have to try this recipe- most of the other pumpkin cupcake recipes don’t have nearly enough pumpkin for my liking!

  2. My 7 year-old just talked me into a giant variety bottle of sprinkels…this will be perfect for our church party next week.

    By the way, your blog makes me smile. The pictures are so great and since your blog is the first one I see in the morning, it really does, set my day off happy.


  3. these are delightfully spooky! I think I could definitely attempt the cupcake batter without a mixer.

  4. Those up cakes are too cute. I want to go to that party.

  5. I love the purple! I don’t remember purple being a Halloween color when I was younger, but now it is everywhere and I absolutely love it!

  6. These are adorable! So festive! And we’re suckers for every holiday display!

  7. Adorable! Loved them before! Love them now! Love Hallween too and using lots of purple with it this year:)

  8. Cute cupcakes! I love the decorations!

  9. Hi Annie!
    I love your blog, and these cupcakes are too cute! Just wondering what you used for the black cobweb design?

    Thanks so much! 🙂

  10. These are absolutely beautiful!

  11. These look great! Good job on decorating them. They’re so creative and perfect for halloween.

  12. these are awesome cupcakes! i love your decorations; they look great!

  13. Those look adorable! Then again, I’m also a sucker for Halloween. I imagine this recipe makes two cake layers, right? I’m planning to make a pumpkin and chocolate layer cake with cream cheese frosting for my birthday, which is the day before Halloween. This recipe looks fairly simple to divide… or maybe make a layer plus cupcakes. Actually, I hadn’t considered that, and it always seems like such a hassle to store the other half of the canned pumpkin.

    • Yes, it should make two 9-inch layers. I also have another pumpkin cake on the blog meant to be a layer cake, so you could check that out too.

  14. I just made these. They are yummy! I declared I needed to make pumpkin cupcakes 10 minutes before coming home and came home to find this recipe in my Google Reader. Nice timing! My problem is that I don’t have access to canned pumpkin and the pumpkin puree wasn’t so flavorful, so my cupcakes aren’t so pumpkiny. I added 2 teaspoons of ginger and am happy I did. They are still hot but I imagine they’ll be nice and moist tomorrow. And your cupcakes are super cute! Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  15. These are a riot, Annie! Totally adorable and, I bet, very tasty with that spiced pumpkin flavor. Your frosting designs are so creative. I bet if Andrew could say so, he’d totally tell you what a “cool Mom” you are!

  16. mmm those cuppies look adorable and the icing decoration is awesome!

  17. Beautiful job!

  18. These are absolutely gorgeous!! I love Halloween too!

  19. i was set on making your pumpkin cream cheese muffins but after seeing this im so torn!! i don’t know if i can pass up on wither of these!

  20. I just made cupcakes for my niece’s bridal shower – 4 different types from your website (Spiced Pumpkin, Red Velvet, Kahlua, and Vanilla Bean). Everyone raved about them. They were awesome! My niece’s favorite: Spiced Pumpkin with the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. Thanks

  21. I processed my own pumpkin this summer and I’m eager to use some of it. I just may be trying this great sounding spiced pumpkin cupcake recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  22. These cupcakes are gorg…I mean, um…spooky! I love them!

  23. what a great idea to make spice pumpkin cupcakes. Usually I see halloween themed cupcakes but made with yellow cake. Pumpkins are so much better. so much better!

  24. These cupcakes are gorgeous! Great job. 🙂

  25. Beautiful. They have that easy decorating style I can conquer.

  26. You did an awesome job! These look yummy:)

  27. Anne, this are too cute, very similar looking to the class they just had at Sir La Table last weekend. I cannot wait to try the recipe. And I too have a few too many of those gigantic sprinkle containers for every holiday. I just love them.


  28. They sound yummy! Do they come out like actual cupcakes or are they more like muffins with frosting?

    • To me, cupcakes = muffins with frosting. Some muffins are more dense I suppose, but most I make are cakey and light anyway.

  29. These are my favorite cupcakes from about August to February 😉
    Yours look so beautiful!

  30. im totally borrowing the spider web decorating idea. so easy and so clever! thank you!

  31. Made this into a two-layer cake tonight. Originally thought about making the cookies & cream cupcakes but decided to make this because it sounded so yummy. I was surprised how light the cake was, not heavy like a muffin.

  32. These are delicious, very light and fluffy and a nice change from a sugary yellow cake. (er, not that these don’t have 2 cups of sugar…) They are just muffin-y enough for me to convince myself that it was alright to have one after my morning run with a cup of coffee 🙂 Taking the rest to work!

  33. Yum! I love pumpkin spice stuff. These are so cute! I have a million little containers of Halloween sprinkles and one big one. How does this happen???

  34. so cute! i love pumpkin so i’m a-ok with a fall series 🙂

  35. Made them today! Loved them!!

  36. Ohhh, these look good. I might just have to make them for my anniversary. (We love halloween so much we had a hallowedding:)

  37. i made these yesterday, SOOOOOO GOOD!

  38. Oh my goodness. These look marvelous. I think I know what I’m going to make to my Chem Halloween Party next week! I’ll be sure to update on all the reactions!

  39. I’m featuring these on my Fall Friday post. Thanks for sharing such fabulous looking treats! http://chicagocuisinecritique.blogspot.com/2010/10/fall-friday_22.html

  40. these are gorgeous!! How do you get the spiderwebby effect??

  41. Sorry – there are so many comments… anyway the cupcakes are gorgeous!

  42. We’ve made them twice in two weeks–yummy! I finally bought decorating gel in black and other colors and my five year old and I had fun making spiderwebs, too! They’re our “something pumpkin” for my daughter’s Halloween party!

  43. I just made these tonight. These are so good! I’m taking them to work tomorrow for a pot luck. I know they’re going to be a hit. Thanks Annie 🙂

  44. Wow, those look amazing! You should send in an entry for our Halloween cupcake contest while you still can!! http://www.partiesthatcook.com/pumpkin-spice-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese-buttercream-frosting/

  45. Hey all, do you think I can make this recipe with all purpose flour? I live in Spain and I cannot find cake flour! Thanks

  46. OH MY GOODNESS! I brought these cupcakes to school and my friends would not stop talking about them. My friend grabbed my shoulder at the end of lunch and said, “This is the best thing I ever tasted. THESE ARE GENIUS!”
    Thanks so much Annie!

  47. Hi Annie! I made these cupcakes for a potluck party this weekend and they were terrific! I changed the spices a bit to match my Grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe (the spice combination in that pie is like heaven to me!) so I used 1 t of cinnamon, 1/2 t of ginger, 1/4 t of cloves, 1/4 t of all spice, and 1/4 t of pumpkin pie spice. Delicious. They were a huge hit. Everyone at the party loved them– adults and kids! Thanks for posting this great recipe.

  48. I know I’m super behind here but I think those are the most awesome Halloween cupcakes I’ve seen!! I love how you decorated them. The candy corn one is really neat. I could (and do) spend hours in the Halloween section of stores too..

  49. Hey Annie,
    Izzy asked if it would be alright to make this recipe with all-purpose flour and not cake flour, but your recipe calls for all-purpose flour. Should it be made with cake flour? Thanks.

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