Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese

For this month's Improv Cooking Challenge (hosted by Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker), the secret ingredients were pumpkin and cream cheese (another winning combo).  While trying to decide what to make, I stumbled upon this cute idea from Duncan Hines.  Cupcakes that looked like pumpkins seemed like the way to go.

Inspired, I set out to create a pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese icing that would look something like a pumpkin.  My version is a little more rustic, but I like it.

Thanks to the wonders of StumbleUpon (follow me!), I found this great pumpkin cupcake recipe at the Stir, as well as a great one from Joy of Baking.  I modified these two recipes a bit, and added my own little twist with food coloring, pecans, and candy melts.  (Recipe appears at the end of this post.)

First up, I whipped up some pumpkin cupcake batter.  Yum.  Here's a shot of these babies before I popped them in the oven, as well as the finished product.

While those were cooling, I assembled the necessary ingredients to transform them into pumpkins, including orange icing and pecan "stems."

The finished product was pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

Want to make these at home? Here's how...

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from the Stir
and Joy of Baking
For the cupcakes:

1-1/2 cups plus all purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1  cup white sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin puree

For the frosting:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 1-2 cups powdered sugar (plus extra as desired)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Yellow and red food coloring

For the stems:

12-16 pecans (or pecan halves)
Green candy melts
  1. Sift together flour, spices, salt, and baking soda.  Set aside.
  2. Beat 1/2 cup butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and blend into mixture, followed by vanilla extract. and pumpkin puree.
  3. Alternate adding flour mixture and pumpkin puree in 3 additions.  Begin and end with the flour mixture.  Mix until just incorporated.
  4. Pour the batter into lined muffin cups.  (I used cupcake papers that were sort of a creamy orange color, but feel free to go another direction.)
  5. Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees (or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean).  Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then cool completely on rack.
  6. While cupcakes cool, make the frosting.  Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth.  Add 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar a little at a time and beat until incorporated.  Add vanilla extract and cinnamon and beat until fluffy.
  7. To turn the icing orange, add 12 drops of yellow food coloring and 4 drops of red.  Beat until incorporated.  If you would like to create a more intense color, add more food coloring at a ratio of 3 drops of yellow to one drop of red.  You can then add additional powdered sugar until frosting is desired consistency.
  8. To create stems, heat green candy melts according to package instructions.  Dip pecans to coat, and allow to dry on wax paper or parchment paper.  
  9. When cupcakes are cool, frost them and then add a stem.
Makes 12-16 cupcakes.



  1. Those look awesome! They turned out sooo cute! I will have to try making them sometime! What are candy melts? I have never heard of them before. lol :)

  2. Hello fellow Improv blogger. These cupcakes look fantastic. Great use of the ingredients. Come visit us. We have pumpkin velvet cake.

  3. I love the idea of using a pecan as the stem! I always like a little something crunchy on my cupcakes.

  4. Very cute and delicious, great ICC recipe.

    If you haven't already, I'd love for you to check out my Improv Cooking Challenge recipe: Praline Pumpkin Cheesecake.

    Cook Lisa Cook

  5. I love everything cupcakes! And they are so adorable with the green stem - how unique!

  6. yum! these look so good and i love the green leaves you added for an extra special touch. follow improve cooking challenger :-)

  7. Um, yummy! Sharing a link on Facebook. :)

  8. These are adorable! I did the challenge too and I made a pumpkin cheesecake.

  9. Using nuts for the stem is a great idea. What fun cupcakes!!

  10. Those turned out really cute, and my mouth is watering now!

  11. Garden Girl - I'm not sure how to describe them (I didn't know what they were until a year ago), but here's what I used: (If you can't find those, you could probably melt some white chocolate and color it with green food coloring as well.)

    Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

  12. Hey! Great Thanksgiving treat!
    Come to A Themed Baker's Sunday where this week's theme is Thanksgiving treats. Be sure to vote on the side bar for next week's theme as well! Happy Holidays!

    Cupcake Apothecary


Spoonfuls of sugar...

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