Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cookie Butter Buttercream.

I spend all summer trying to figure out what to do with myself. Do I bake pies? Do I bake in Mason jars? Do I make ice cream? How do you even make ice cream? That just seems like a lot of work when I live so close to a Coldstone Creamery. Can I just get away with grilling slices of banana bread? 

I love summer, the bucketlists and carefree, sun-filled months, but when it comes to baking, I just don't feel the inspiration. I want long days by the pool with a book and a tropical drink and late nights with kettlecorn, s'mores, and Once Upon a Time. Just let me live.
Fall is when I find my inspiration. 

From pumpkins and the colors of changing leaves to the cooler weather, candy corn, and that crisp, fall magic in the air that makes you feel alive and like celebrating everything and nothing at all. Even my autumn-inspired Pinterest board has me wishing I could just call in to work and spend the morning in my tiny apartment kitchen with a whisk, some brown butter, and not a care in the world, baking all things pumpkin spice, cinnamon, salted caramel, and gingerbread.    

These cupcakes were inspired by one of the best cupcakes I've ever baked: my pumpkin spice cupcakes for two. Two perfect pumpkin cupcakes topped with the tiniest batch ever of cinnamon spice buttercream. 

The only problem? Obviously. They only made two!

This is what a problem looks like solved.

Twelve of the most irresistable, cakey, perfectly-moist pumpkin spice cupcakes, loaded with that rich, spicy fall flavor from cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves. These cupcakes the softest and so moist... like the texture you would get from using a boxed spice cake mix, only better. For years to come, these will be my go-to pumpkin cupcakes. I'm already dreaming of cream cheese frostings, chocolate glazes, a sprinkle of candy corn... and thick, creamy cheesecake centers.    

Okay. So you caught me. I tried to distract you with all that sugar-talk. There's only eleven cupcakes in that picture. I don't want to talk about it. 

Or the half-jar of cookie butter I ate for dinner last week.

Let's talk frosting.

The frosting for these pumpkin cakes was inspired by the rich, gingerbread-y cookie butter truffles I baked into my chocolate chunk brown butter brownies and the peanut butter buttercream from my vanilla bean peanut butter cup cupcakes. Biscoff is like peanut butter. Could we substitute it for the peanut butter and turn it into a sort-of gingerbread buttercream for pumpkin things? 

The answer is yes.     

Yes and now.

This is the stuff spoons were made for.

These cupcakes (eaten chilled and shamelessly in the middle of the night after a stressful workday) were one truly irresistable start to fall. The combination of pumpkin spice cake, sugary cookie butter frosting (think gingerbread + snickerdoodles + cinnamon graham crackers), topped with salty-sweet crushed chocolate-covered toffee pieces was the most perfect match of fall flavors.

Combined with a pumpkin spice latte and a lazy afternoon? 

These cupcakes were everything ever. 

P.S. Unfrosted... they could totally just be pumpkin spice muffins. Cake for breakfast. Do your thing! 


Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cookie Butter Buttercream 

Printable Recipe

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs

Cookie Butter Buttercream Frosting 
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup Biscoff (or Trader Joes creamy Cookie Butter)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-3 tablespoons cream (or milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Crushed Heath toffee bits for sprinkling on top, optional

Prep. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Set aside.

Whisk. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set aside. 

Mix. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the pumpkin puree, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing until just incorporated. 

Scoop & bake. Using a cookie scoop, fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake tests clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. 

To make the frosting, cream together the butter and cookie butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add vanilla and one tablespoon of cream at a time; beat until light, fluffy, and desired consistency. 

Frost it! Pipe frosting onto completely cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with crushed toffee, serve & enjoy!

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Source: Cupcakes barely adapted from Annie's Eats and Biscoff frosting recipe from Baked Bree