Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
Yesterday, I saw an add for pumpkin spice lattes so I figured it was time to start rolling out the seasonal pumpkin recipes we all secretly love and adore. These cupcakes would be perfect to serve at a pumpkin carving party or family night while watching your favorite Halloween movies.
As I said in my roasted butternut squash tart post, I have to be clever about how I put together recipes containing any type of gourde, otherwise my husband won’t eat it. I think he gets it from his mother—she hates anything with pumpkin in it.
As someone who personally enjoys eating pumpkin desserts and stews, it’s a bit of a challenge for me to craft recipes where the pumpkin isn’t the main star of the recipe. After two afternoons of playing around with ingredients while listening to my recent obsession Chris Cornell radio on Pandora (sniff, sniff) I finally found a balance of the flavors and textures of pumpkin that I passed the taste test of a non-pumpkin eater.
At the heart of this recipe is a spice cake using a blend of spices that I absolutely adore and can’t wait to experiment with on other dishes, both savory and sweet. Initially, I was inspired by a pumpkin spice blend I was given from a local shop in Paso Robles called Spice of Life. All of the expected spices are in there with one addition: coriander, which I am loving with all of this pumpkin experimenting I’ve been doing lately. I’ll never go back to the old boring pumpkin spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, all spice, cloves and nutmeg, which is something I never thought I’d say. The same old aroma is there with the subtle spiciness of the coriander. Though, because this is a spice cake and I was using quite a bit of spices, I opted to make my own blend just so I could control more of the flavors since I decided to add chocolate to the batter.
This pumpkin spice blend is a damn delicious pairing with traditional, high octane Paso Robles Zinfandels.
Yep. I balanced the pumpkin out by adding chocolate. No chocoholic will be able to say no to these cupcakes even if they claim to hate pumpkin.
If you have yet to try chocolate and pumpkin together you are in for a treat. The pumpkin adds moisture to the cupcakes, so in the end, you have a light and fluffy cupcake with a perfect balance of chocolate, autumn spice and pumpkin. I recommend baking the cupcakes a day before you frost them—the flavors only get better and more flavorful.
These cupcakes are tasty enough to leave unfrosted, but let’s face it, cupcakes smothered in some kind of frosting get eaten faster. Again, I went down the list of combinations of flavors and types of frosting; autumn spiced cream cheese, maple buttercream, chocolate pumpkin cream cheese and finally the winner: plain old fluffy chocolate buttercream frosting. You can add as much or as little frosting as you’d like, either spread it across the cupcakes or pipe it on—it’s really your choice. I decided to spread it across so I wasn’t overwhelming the cupcakes with a mouthful of buttercream frosting with each bite. I suppose this is called moderation??
Since it’s still early, I used canned pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling–it’s vital to use the correct can!) and was able to doctor it up with the spice blend. If you happen to live somewhere where baking pumpkins are already available, it would be better to use than the canned stuff. When using fresh pumpkin, this is the recipe I follow to make pumpkin puree.
What are your favorite movies to watch around Halloween? Are you a Hocus Pocus fan or are you more of a Trick ‘R Treat type?
For the Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 10 tablespoons, softened unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3 room temperature eggs
- 2/3 cup at room temperature whole milk
- 1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
Note: you may substitute the almond flour for another 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour.
For the Fluffy Chocolate Buttercream
- 1 1/2 sticks at room temperature unsalted butter
- 2 cups, sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup, sifted cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
The frosting can be made in advanced. It will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks if kept in an air tight container or frozen for up to three months.