Warning: it’s going to get all Halloween-y around here next week.  This is a little preview.  I am a total sucker for Halloween stuff.  Normally various holiday displays at stores don’t have quite such an effect on me, but make it orange, black and maybe purple, and I’m all over it.  Which is exactly how I ended up with one of those giant containers of various Halloween sprinkles and sugars.  Really, I could browse the Halloween aisles forever.

I first made these pumpkin cupcakes a few years back and they have been my staple recipe ever since.  The cake is light and tender, with the perfect balance of pumpkin and fall spices.  I have made them with white chocolate cream cheese frosting before but I think I prefer them this way, with just a thin spread of classic cream cheese frosting so the cake is really the star.  I most recently made these as a coworker birthday request and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to use up some of the fun sugars and sprinkles.  Just about 15 more Halloweens and then I’ll be ready to buy another enormous jar.


For the cupcakes:

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (I prefer clear)
  • 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted


  • 01

    To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.

  • 02

    Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full.  Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely.

  • 03

    To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.