Yesterday, a sweet someone in my life surprised me with a wonderful little doodad: a cupcake corer. I was really excited (maybe a little too excited) to start churning out decadent desserts that fully utilize this wonderful little kitchen gadget. In honor of Thanksgiving (which is almost upon us!) I decided to start off with these Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Maple Pecan Filling. The cupcakes are light and fluffy, which juxtaposes the rich filling and frosting quite beautifully. These pumpkin cupcakes are beautiful and special enough to serve with your Thanksgiving dinner. They’re so yummy, though, that you might not want to share 🙂
For the pumpkin cupcake batter, less is more when it comes to stirring. I stopped stirring when the batter reached this point.
I love pulling these pumpkin cupcakes out of the oven. They smell like Thanksgiving (thanks to the pumpkin pie spice) and the subtle orange color is so pretty.
For the cream cheese frosting, make sure the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature (this helps create lump-free frosting). Also, set your mixer to a low speed before you add the powdered sugar…unless of course you would like to have a white Christmas inside your kitchen 🙂
I like using a ziplock bag as my piping bag. It’s cheap and makes clean-up a breeze. I find that situating the bag inside a small glass creates a mess-free method for filling the bag with our cream cheese frosting.
Here comes the fun part: assembling the cupcakes! Once the pumpkin cupcakes are completely cool, core them and fill ’em up with the maple pecan filling. If you don’t have a fun little cupcake corer, no worries! Just use a small melon baller or even a knife to cut out little spheres. Don’t you just love frosting cupcakes? There’s something incredibly satisfying about adding the finishing touch to these sweet treats. When I’m using a ziplock bag to frost cupcakes, I just cut a small corner off of the bag. Then, I start on the outer edge of the cupcake and work in a circular motion until I reach the center. Have fun! Feel free to create your own decorations and methods!
Storing these cupcakes in the fridge helps the cream cheese frosting maintain its decorative shape.
I love how you can see the maple pecan core when you bite into the cupcakes. Yumminess!
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I use canola)
- ½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- ¼ cup maple syrup*
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- Dash of salt
- 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
- *Make sure you buy maple syrup and not “maple-flavored” syrup. There’s a big difference!
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 4 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners. For the pumpkin cupcake batter, combine the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugars and pumpkin. Stir in the eggs. Add the buttermilk and oil. Make sure the wet ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, then add them to the dry ingredients. Lightly stir the batter to combine the ingredients. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool for at least 1 hour before filling and frosting them.
- For the maple pecan filling, combine the brown sugar and maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, swirling the pan occasionally to keep sugar from sticking to the sides of the pan. When the mixture reaches a boil, allow it to continue boiling for 3 minutes without stirring. Then turn off the heat and stir in the cream, butter, salt, and pecans. Allow the filling to cool and then place it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- In the bowl of a stand mixture, blend the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until there are no lumps, 1-2 minutes. On low speed, add the powdered sugar a ½ cup at a time. Then add the pumpkin pie spice. Once the sugar and spice are incorporated turn the speed up to medium and cream the frosting until it’s fluffy, about 3 minutes. If it’s a hot day, refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes before frosting the cupcakes.
- To assemble the cupcakes, use a cupcake corer, melon baller, or knife to cut out a circular core from each cake that is about ¾ inch in diameter. Save the cores. Fill each cupcake with maple pecan filling. Place the cupcake cores on top of the filling. Put the frosting into a piping bag with a decorative tip. You can also use a ziptop bag and just cut off one of the corners. Pipe the frosting onto each cupcake. I like to start on the outer edge of the cupcake and pipe the frosting in a circular motion until I reach the center of the cupcake. Have fun with it! Come up with your own designs and decorations. Candied pecans would make a lovely garnish on the top of each cupcake. You can store the cupcakes in the fridge for a few days in an airtight container.