Saturday, October 15, 2011

Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year.  You can take the sultry Summer, the floral Spring, the white Winter -- and you can keep them.  Just give me my Autumn.  Nothing captivates and inspires me like the colors of Fall. The sunlight turns into a rich golden hue, the air feels more crisp, and for some reason this time of year always feels like the beginning of a new cycle.   I am overwhelmed with the beauty of Fall each year and savor every day of this painfully short season here in New England.

Some shots from Pine Banks Park in Melrose, MA

And the food!  Warm apple cider, spiced cakes and treats, succulent squash...everything pumpkin.  What more could you ask for? Now that I've got you as excited about Fall as I am, how about a quick Fall fix?  Say hello to these little darlings.

Pumpkin Cupcakes!  I'm getting excited just typing this out.  These are easy.  And when I say easy, I mean it.  They're made with just canned pumpkin and spice cake mix.  But how?  How can just two ingredients make the most moist, delicious pumpkin cake?  You just have to try these.  You may not make your 15 ingredient pumpkin bread/cake/cupcakes again.  These are dense and full of Fall flavor.  People love this recipe and they would never guess that you didn't slave away all day to make them something so special.   You can also make these as a pumpkin layer cake, sheet cake, or pumpkin bread -- what ever your little heart desires. 

But wait, there's more! 

Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting.  (Every word deserving of capitalization)
I get pretty amped up about cream cheese frosting.  I get REALLY amped up when it's on pumpkin anything.  The stuff in the can does not compare - this is a totally different animal and worth the entire 5 minutes it will take you to whip it up.   

Watch carefully because these come together fast!

Grab a can of pumpkin and a box of Spice cake Mix.  Mix and stir until smooth.  See how easy this is?  Scoop the batter into your muffin pans.  I get about 22 cupcakes with the recipe.  Bake at 350 for about 14 minutes.  

A cookie scoop or mini ice cream scoop works perfectly for these.  Using a scoop will ensure all of your cupcakes are perfect in size and appearance.  The mini scoop also dishes out less batter -- and there's a reason for that.  We need room for that Cream Cheese Frosting we talked about earlier.


This is my recipe from High School!  I love this cookbook my Mom gave me - I still use it today and I still get it out all the time for recipes even though I have them memorized.  Now notice the quantities.  This is a double batch so for the cupcakes today I'm cutting everything in half.

Now you'll notice I left the milk out of my ingredient picture.  I ran out of milk.  I did have this:  

Sometimes, you have to improvise.  If you haven't already met them, let me introduce you to the happiest food couple on the planet:  cream cheese and butter.

So in love
 Cream these until they're smooth and totally incorporated.


Now add your milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar.  Beat until smooth.  Become transfixed by the creaminess.

That's it!  There's your frosting of a lifetime.  Go on, stick your finger in there.  I won't tell.  I know I sound like Barefoot Contessa but seriously, how easy was that?  If you want, you can stop here and wait for your cupcakes to cool.  Or do a frosting shot.  Or bring in some color.  Let's do #2 and #3.

I used gel icing color -- I like it a lot better than the liquid.

Meanwhile, the cupcakes are hanging out on the counter.  While they're cooling, you can pat yourself on the back for creating such perfect little treats.  Park the frosting in the fridge until you're ready for it.

Frosting time!  If you're piping the frosting, knead the bag a bit with your hands once you get the frosting in it - that will get it back to being really flexible and smooth.


If by some clash of cosmic forces you do have leftover cupcakes, just park them in the fridge.  After a day or two I would freeze them so they don't dry out.  

 And now I believe it's time for me to enjoy my Fall fix. 

Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes
1 box Spice Cake Mix
1 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the pumpkin and the cake mix together until completely combined.  Batter will be thick.  Scoop into lined muffin tins and bake for about 14 minutes or until done.  (you can use the toothpick test)  Cool Completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick of unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth, add in all the other ingredients and beat until creamy. 


  1. I'm blown away, yet again. You should be doing this for a living.

  2. She is doing this for a living!!! She just happens to spend her days on an Ivy League campus, lol! Lizard, these are my faves and you KNOW it!

  3. I think I'm going to try to make these next week for Thanksgiving. You are amazing!!!! keep all the yummy recipes coming.