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Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

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When the leaves are falling and the air is crisp, these frosted cupcakes will warm the kitchen with the fragrance of fall. The comforting flavor of spiced pumpkin in a soft and tender cake is layered with a luscious cream cheese frosting sweetened with real maple syrup.

Be sure to use the darkest, most flavorful maple syrup you can find — look for Grade C, which is not an indication of quality but of darkness and intensity of flavor. School party? Top each cream cheese frosted cake with a little candy pumpkin.


For the cake:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin purée*
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature

For the frosting:

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (preferably Grade C)
  • 1 ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup pecan pieces, toasted and finely chopped, for garnish


  • 2 standard-sized cupcake tins
  • Paper cupcake liners
  • Electric stand mixer or hand mixer


For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and position the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 standard-sized cupcake tins with 18 paper liners.

Beat the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high until very light in color, 4-5 minutes. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, although you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

Beat the eggs and vanilla in a small bowl to blend. With the mixer on medium, add the eggs to the butter mixture about 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to completely blend in before adding the next. About halfway through, turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl, then resume adding the eggs. Scrape down the bowl again. Add the pumpkin and blend well.

With a fine-mesh strainer, sift the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and clove into a medium bowl and whisk to blend. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, beginning with 1/3 of the flour mixture and ½ of the buttermilk; repeat, then finish with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl and finish blending the batter by hand.

Fill each liner ¾ full with batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes completely on a cooling rack. Frost the cupcakes the day you wish to serve them.

For the frosting:

Place the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a mixer or a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the maple syrup and confectioners’ sugar and mix thoroughly. Scrape down the bowl with a clean spatula and blend again briefly.

Using a small offset spatula, evenly distribute the frosting among the cupcakes, being sure the frosting covers the entire top. Garnish with the nuts. These should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Be sure to take them out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe Summary

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree (from a 15-ounce can)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Lightly coat 24 standard muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, buttermilk, and vanilla. In another medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions pumpkin mixture, until combined.

Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway though. Let cupcakes cool in pans on wire racks, 15 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans and let cool completely on racks, 10 minutes. To serve, spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes.

Pumpkin Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

This pumpkin cake with maple cream cheese frosting is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. All the essential pumpkin spice flavors tempered with the creamy coolness of cream cheese frosting. One of our most popular cakes.

This pumpkin cake, along with its incredible maple cream cheese frosting, is a recipe I developed a long time ago for an article I wrote for the Los Angles Times about Thanksgiving. I was killing two birds with one stone (forgive the holiday pun) by making my editor as well as The One happy. (The One loves anything pumpkin. This cake has actually beat out his former favorite autumn dessert, pumpkin pie.) Since then, this recipe has become one of those baked-around-the-Internet desserts, like my ultimate chocolate chip cookies. I’ve seen my cake turned into some really clever loaves, mini-Bundt cakes, and, my favorite, cupcakes. It seems to take well to any form you can think to make it in.–David Leite

What to do if your frosting isn't quite as fluffy as you'd like

Folks rave about this maple-cream cheese frosting. Rightly so. But it can tend to be a bit on the soft side—as in, perhaps a little too soft if the cake needs to sit out for a few hours in a warm kitchen. (And by “a warm kitchen,” we mean a kitchen in which the Thanksgiving turkey is roasting and all four burners are blasting come Thanksgiving morning.) This is easily remedied by plopping an extra stick of butter in the recipe. (Isn’t it lovely how butter can fix all manner of problems?!) The result is a sturdier frosting, with no sacrifice in flavor, that’s able to withstand sitting out for several hours in any climate. If you’re one of those people who are averse to more calories, get your hands on the darker, more robust maple syrup formerly known as Grade B and recently redesignated as “Grade A Dark Color, Robust Taste,” the frosting magically holds up like a champ and requires no extra butter.

How to make Maple Cream Cheese Frosting?

  1. In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, and maple syrup.
  2. Beat until well combined and powdered sugar in dissolved.
  3. Fill a piping bag or ziplock bag and pipe onto cupcakes.
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

How to Make Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

The star of these cupcakes is, of course, pumpkin. This recipe can be made with both fresh or canned pumpkin, which makes it easy to make and bake it year round.

Fresh Roasted Pumpkin

The prep for this recipe takes place the day (or night) before. You’ll have to roast your pumpkin in the oven and then allow it to cool for at least 8 hours. Twenty-four hours is best. Incidentally, I provide the details how to carry out this task in my pumpkin pie recipe.

Canned Pumpkin

If you don’t have access to baking pumpkins or can’t spare the time to make it fresh, then you can definitely use a canned version that’s 100% pumpkin, like Libby’s.

For this recipe, you’ll need one 15 ounce can of pumpkin.

After this, mix the ingredients together as you would a regular cupcake recipe. It’s always best to start with the dry ingredients first then add the wet ingredients, second, one at a time.

Place muffin liners in each cup and fill with the pumpkin cupcake batter 3/4 high in each. Put the muffin tins in a preheated 375 degree F oven for about 25 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick and if it comes out clean, your cupcakes are done.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before frosting.

Finally, these Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting are perfect for potlucks, bake sales or family gatherings. They can also be frozen to be eaten later. Just be sure to place in a tightly sealed container and allow them to come to room temperature before serving.

Recipe Option: Pumpkin Spice Loaves

For a quick alternative to baking cupcakes, and/or if you have any leftover batter, make a loaf or two of Pumpkin Spice Loaves.

You will follow the same instructions as you would for the Pumpkin Spice Cupcake recipe.

Grease and flour your loaf pans and fill with batter 3/4 of the way up the side. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick, inserted in the middle comes out clean. Be sure to cool before frosting or slicing.

For more delicious pumpkin recipes, be sure to check out Wisconsin Homemaker’s Recipe Section, as well as these seasonal favorites:

How to make pumpkin spice cupcakes

MIX. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl. In a separate large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, sugars, oil and eggs. Then stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture until combined. Scoop the batter into 12 muffin cups lined with paper liners, filling about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way full.

BAKE. Bake at 350°F for about 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

FROST. While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting. Beat together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Then slowly add in the powdered sugar and continue beating until fluffy. Then beat in the vanilla and maple extract. You want the frosting to be able to hold a point, so add in more powdered sugar if needed. Then frost the cupcakes and enjoy!

How to Make Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners into tins.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and brown sugar.
  4. Add in eggs and vanilla.
  5. Mix in pumpkin puree.
  6. Slowly blend half of the flour mixture.
  7. Then add in the buttermilk.
  8. Repeat. Once blended, pour batter into cupcakes liners.
  9. Bake about 15-20 minutes.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Fluffy Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

It may still be 100 degrees outside, but I can&rsquot wait any longer for fall! I&rsquom ready for the cool and sunny days with the wind blowing through my hair and low humidity. Let&rsquos not forget the aroma of apple, cinnamon, pumpkin and allspice baking away in the oven. Oh yeah I&rsquom ready! And these Pumpkin Cupcakes with Fluffy Maple Cream Cheese Frosting is the perfect recipe to start off the baking season!

Say good-bye to those overly sweet and spiced pumpkin cupcakes. These cupcakes are lightly sweetened with just 7 tablespoons of sugar. A simple spice blend of cinnamon, allspice and ginger helps bring out the flavor of the pumpkin instead of hiding in a mix of spices.

Moving on to the fluffy and light cream cheese frosting. This Fluffy Maple Cream Cheese Frosting is made with a mix of cream cheese and butter, and sweetened with pure maple syrup.

To finish these off, I sprinkled a little pumpkin spice and added some maple pecans.

What is your favorite fall time treat? Let me know in the comments below. And don&rsquot forget to follow The Cake Chica on these social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

How to Make Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

To take these pumpkin spice cupcakes to the next level, you’ve got to add the the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. It adds a touch of heat, and really helps these cupcakes epitomize the feeling of fall.

If you’ve ever struggled with making cream cheese frosting, here’s how to make sure it doesn’t get runny on you: Add the sugar last, and don’t overdo it.

I used to think that adding more powdered sugar would solve the problem. Nope. It just dissolves and makes the frosting even runnier.

To make the cream cheese frosting with the perfect consistency, place your mixing bowl in the fridge for ten minutes. While it’s cooling, combine the confectioner’s sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Then, place your cold butter in the cold mixing bowl and then mix it using your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 30 seconds on medium high. Add the cold cream cheese and beat it for 90 seconds on medium high. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and beat it for 30 seconds.

Finally, add the confectioner’s sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon mixture and beat it for 10 seconds on low to allow the ingredients to come together, then turn the speed up to high and beat it for 80-90 seconds. Transfer the cinnamon cream cheese frosting to a piping bag and decorate your pumpkin cupcakes.