Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

See the little cuppie on the left? I inhaled him within seconds of taking this shot.

I have been chomping at the bit to make pumpkin goodies, and last night finally carved out some time to do so.

I saw a pumpkin cupcake comparison over at The Way the Cookie Crumbles and immediately latched on to the one that she rated highest and most appealed to me visually – the David Leite recipe posted by Smitten Kitchen recently.

These.Are.AMAZING. The cupcake manages to be dense but fluffy, the flavor is spot-on, and the cream cheese frosting provides a great contrast to the pumpkin flavors. My husband informed me that they are “effing phenomenal”. That’s a gold star if I ever heard of one.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting from FieryIrishAngel
Adapted from David Leite

Yield: 17 to 18 cupcakes (or, because I was out of cupcake liners, 12 regular-sized cupcakes and 18 minis)

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 heaping teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice**
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk*** mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

Frosting
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 350° (175°C). Line a cupcake pans with paper liners.

2. In a stand mixer****, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.

3. Add the eggs 1 at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — you’re looking to get them 3/4 full. Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes (minis took 12 minutes, full size took 18). Cool the cupcakes on racks completely.

* – Cake flour substitute: 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour with 1/4 cup corn starch
** – Pumpkin Pie Spice used to replace a slew of spices used in the original (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, salt, pepper, etc.)
*** – Buttermilk substitute: 1 cup of milk with scant Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
**** – Or, if you’re like me and only own a puny hand-held model, you spend a lot of time trying to mix with one hand and dump with the other without spilling, sending batter flying, or creating a flour mushroom cloud over the bowl. SUCK.

I was icing these at midnight and had a piping tip malfunction, so they're not terribly pretty, but OMG are they good!

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