Pumpkin Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese

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These easy pumpkin cupcakes are the perfect fall treat! They’re moist and fluffy and topped with a salted caramel cream cheese frosting. 

A single cupcake frosted with caramel dripping down the side

My favorite pumpkin cupcakes

When I originally made this recipe years ago, it started with a cake mix. Nothing against cake mix, but my homemade pumpkin cupcakes are SO MUCH BETTER. They’re fluffy and moist with plenty of spiced flavor. My readers love them and some have claimed “Hands down best pumpkin cupcake I ever made and the recipe I have been dreaming about!”. I have to say, I agree.

You can also use this cupcake recipe to make my Pumpkin Tiramisu Cupcakes or Pumpkin Pecan Pie Cupcakes

It’s an oil based recipe with plenty of pumpkin puree, which makes for a perfect tender crumb. This recipe also uses all brown sugar, which tends to also maintain moisture in baked goods. This recipe is incredibly easily to throw together. 

These are so good, I don’t even really need the frosting, but let’s be real, the frosting just makes it even better. 

A piping bag piping frosting onto a cupcake

SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING

This is a cross between a traditional American buttercream and a cream cheese frosting. I absolutely love my cream cheese frosting recipe and it’s a perfect match for these pumpkin cupcakes, but I wanted a little something different this time around.

This frosting has the absolute best flavor: a touch of vanilla, plenty of salted caramel and then I decided to add a little bourbon to the frosting and it was the best decision ever. It’s just a touch but it pairs perfectly with the spices in these cupcakes, but if you don’t want to use bourbon, just use vanilla extract. 

A paddle attachment for a mixer with swirls of frosting on it

TIPS FOR THE PERFECT FROSTING CONSISTENCY 

The secret to getting the perfect consistency for the frosting is to start with cold ingredients. I know that’s probably the opposite of everything you’ve learned about frosting, but trust me. I use this method for nearly all my frosting recipes and readers agree, it’s a game changer. 

You’ll need to spend some time whipping the cold butter in the very beginning until it reaches a light, fluffy whipped texture. Then you’ll add the cold cream cheese and do the same thing. 

It’s best to use a thick caramel sauce or caramel dip, as this will help prevent the frosting from getting too thin. I avoid using sauces or anything that comes in a squeeze bottle as they tend to be thinner. 

A jar of Smucker's salted caramel topping with a teaspoon dripping caramel

This frosting should be thick but easily spreadable, it won’t be quite as soft as a cream cheese frosting. If your frosting seems too thin, add additional powdered sugar. Or if your frosting is too thick, add some milk or heavy cream 1 teaspoon at a time. If your frosting seems too soft to pipe, stick it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

More Pumpkin recipes you’ll love

 

Two stacked pumpkin cupcakes, the top one has a bite missing

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A single cupcake frosted with caramel dripping down the side

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 14 minutes
  • Total Time: 29 minutes
  • Yield: 12 Cupcakes

Description

These easy pumpkin cupcakes are the perfect fall treat! They’re moist and fluffy and topped with a salted caramel cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 1 ½ cups (330g) light brown sugar
  • ½ cup (118ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (180g) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (5g) pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons (5g) cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (5g) baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon (3g) baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon (3.7g) salt
  • ¾ cup (177ml) milk

For the Frosting:

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, cold
  • 67 cups (780-911g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract or bourbon
  • 34 heaping tablespoons salted caramel sauce plus additional for garnish

Instructions

For the cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated and the batter is lighter in color, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Next mix in the pumpkin and beat until well combined.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, combine all remaining dry ingredients. Alternate adding half the dry ingredients with half the mix. Beat until all of the ingredients are well combined.
  4. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  5. Using a large cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly, filling each liner 2/3 full. Bake at 350°F for 14-16 minutes. Test the cupcakes for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cupcake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cupcakes are done. Cool Completely.

For the frosting

  1. Cut the butter into pieces, about 1 tablespoon size. Using the paddle attachment, whip butter for 3-5 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally until the butter is light and fluffy.
  2. Then add the cream cheese and cream together with the butter for 2-3 minutes until they are whipped and free of lumps, scape down the bowl occasionally.
  3. Slowly add confectionary sugar, 2-3 cups at a time, alternating with the liquid (vanilla extract and salted caramel) and beat until desired consistency is reached. Add additional pinch of salt if desired.

Notes

  • Frosting consistency: This frosting should be thick but easily spreadable, it won’t be quite as soft as a cream cheese frosting. If your frosting seems too thin, add additional powdered sugar. Or if your frosting is too thick, add milk or heavy cream 1 teaspoon at a time. The secret to the best frosting is to really whip the butter before adding any additional ingredients. If your frosting because too soft when applying and decorating, stick it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  • Pumpkin puree- make sure you’re using 100% pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
  • Make ahead and storage suggestions:
    • Storing frosted cupcakes: You can make these up to two days in advance. If preparing in advance and frosting in advance, I recommend refrigerating the cupcakes in a airtight container.
    • Storing unfrosted cupcakes: You can prepare the cupcakes, store them unfrosted in an airtight container at room temperature.
    • Make the frosting ahead of time and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. All the frosting to come to room temperature before piping.
    • Freezing cupcakes: It’s best to freeze these cupcakes unfrosted. Cool completely, flash freeze for 15 minutes then transfer to a freezer-safe airtight container. Thaw to room temperature prior to serving.
Nutrition Information:
1 cupcake
393
46g
184mg
18g
11g
56g
.7g
3g
58mg
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Pumpkin Cupcakes, Pumpkin Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Homemade Pumpkin Cupcakes, Salted Caramel Frosting

 

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1 Response
  1. Jamie@Milk N Cookies

    Refrigerating cream cheese frosting before piping is a great tip! I’ve done this a few times and I’m always much happier with how the frosting looks. And like you’ve said, it holds up so much better!

    I can almost taste these cupcakes through the screen — that frosting looks too good to be true, especially with the toffee bits and the extra drizzle of caramel. Delish!

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