Pumpkin Cupcakes for Your Thanksgiving Feast

by moderndomestic on November 17, 2008

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. A new Thanksgiving tradition?

Every October magazines start piling up at my door, with their predictable, if entertaining, stories about how to put a new “spin” on Thanksgiving dinner. These publications have countless suggestions, from new ways to cook your turkey (newsflash—brining is out!), hundreds of interpretations of the traditional sides, and, of course, endless variations on pumpkin-themed desserts.

So, in this time-honored Thanksgiving tradition of food writing, I have my own spin on the Thanksgiving dessert. For those of you who don’t like pumpkin pie, yes, they do exist—what about pumpkin cupcakes?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of pumpkin pie. But for those of you who want to incorporate the cupcake trend into your Thanksgiving tradition, or are just in the mood for a nice fall cupcake recipe, then these cupcakes take the cake.

I used this Martha Stewart recipe (which follows) for the cake itself, because it was one of the few pumpkin cupcake recipes I could find that used butter, rather than oil, for the fat. I was worried that the butter would make these turn out too dense, but no worries—these beauties have a perfect cake-like, tender crumb, and the pumpkin flavor and spices are really wonderful.

My coworker suggested making a maple frosting to go with the pumpkin cake, since she had had the same pairing at Georgetown Cupcake and said it was to die for. I had a hard time finding a maple frosting recipe that didn’t call for maple extract (I try to avoid artificial flavorings when possible, especially when I know they’ll set me back $5 for one recipe), and finally settled on this one (this recipe also follows). I liked the frosting—the cream cheese cuts down on the sweetness. But I now understand why all those other recipes called for maple extract—the maple flavor was definitely faint.

Still, even if these beauties were imperfect, these were still one of my most successful cupcake attempts. I really can’t say enough how much I loved the pumpkin cake—how it was moist without being too heavy, fragrant without being too sweet. I guess that Eddie is right, Martha really does only hire the best.

Plateful of Pumpkin Cupcakes

A plateful of Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. A ModernDomestic success!

Pumpkin Cupcakes
From Martha Stewart Living.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.
  3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese softened
3 large egg yolks lightly beaten
1 1/5 cup butter softened (1/2 lb)
6 large egg whites
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring maple syrup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until reduced by about a third, 10-12 minutes. Pour into a glass measuring cup nested in a bowl of ice water and stir constantly until syrup is very thick and barely warm to touch, 3-4 minutes. Remove from ice water. In a bowl, with a mixer on low, beat cream cheese and butter until well blended. Beat in powdered sugar; scrape in reduced syrup; beat until smooth.

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January 26, 2009 at 4:46 pm
The ABC's of Maple Syrup | Food & Think
March 2, 2010 at 10:04 am

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Nonna November 18, 2008 at 1:09 am

Those look good. I recommend Cosi’s Pumpkin Spice Latte (but not the one from Starbucks–too sweet). It is really yummy!


Nonna November 18, 2008 at 1:10 am

But otherwise, I don’t like pumpkin. Cranberry muffins is another story :-)


Lisa October 25, 2009 at 12:44 pm

The icing recipe calls for 3 egg yolks, but I don’t see where they are incorporated into the icing.


moderndomestic October 25, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Hey Lisa –

Have I told you I’m a horrible copy editor? I truly am. That’s a typo – there are no egg yolks in the recipe. Thanks for catching that! I’ve edited the recipe above.



mark champlin November 23, 2009 at 1:11 pm

i do not see where the egg whites go?


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