Make it Naked

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin cupcakes

Well look at that. I went all boutiquey five dollar cupcake on you. Halloween is coming. I had to.

I’m big on tradition, and over the past few years Jon and I have developed quite a few of our own Halloween traditions.

  1. Wine. There is always wine. We sit outside in our driveway and share a bottle of Bogle’s Phantom wine while waiting for our 10 trick-or-treaters. Then they leave and we look like the trashy, drunk couple who tailgates in their driveway.
  2. We don’t dress up. Lame. I know. But I don’t really mind. Jon hates it. And I can’t change out of my running shorts and hoodie or else the neighbors won’t recognize me. And no one takes candy from strangers.
  3. We always have homemade pizza for dinner. Well, pizza and Halloween candy, miniature Krackel bars, are the perfect pairing to red wine. The rice crunchies really enhance the earthiness of the wine. I totally know what I’m talking about.
  4. I make cupcakes. Remember last year when I made these apple cupcakes in a hail mary attempt to keep our house from getting egged? Well, it worked. But now I’m afraid we’re known as “the cupcake house” and the kids (and parents) on our block are expecting cupcakes. Lucky for them these cupcakes have been on my to-bake list for way too long.

I wish I could capture smell and post it, because these cupcakes fill your house with the warm scent of cinnamon and fresh nutmeg. They smell just like fall. The cake is soft, moist and spongy. I used cake flour because I like the texture more than all-purpose flour most of the time. The pumpkin turns the batter a beautiful orange, and these bake up nicely as a plain spiced fall cake. But you know, it’s Halloween and Halloween requires an abundance of sugar. So I’ve topped these with a fancy swirl of cinnamon cream cheese frosting. It’s delicious.

These aren’t gluten free, so I can’t enjoy them, but that’s ok because I can have mini Krackels I made them for the trick-or-treaters.  So, take a cupcake kid and stop eyeing up my Krackel. I need it for my wine.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (cake adapted from Martha Stewart) makes 24 cupcakes

Cake Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups cake flour (or 2 cups all purpose)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I used freshly grated, and I highly recommend it)
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks; I used salted), melted and cooled
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-15oz can pumpkin

Frosting Ingredients: (double this if you want enough for the tall swirl as pictured for 24 cupcakes)

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup salted butter (2 sticks), softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line two cupcake pans with paper liners.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg and allspice in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat together the granulated and brown sugars with butter. Add the eggs and vanilla. Add the pumpkin. Beat until combined, scraping down the bowl when necessary.
  4. Add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet mixture. Stir until combined.
  5. Fill the lined cups until about 2/3rds full.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating once half way through. The cakes are done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  7. While cooling, combine the cream cheese, butter, cinnamon and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until fully combined.
  8. Slowly add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, and beat until full incorporated.
  9. When all the sugar is added beat on high for about 1 minute to get the frosting to a fluffy texture.
  10. Top the cupcakes in whatever fashion you’d like. I sprinkled with a bit more cinnamon. Enjoy.


  1. I used cake flour, but all purpose will work too. Just reduce to 2 cups.
  2. I don’t think this cake needs frosting. I think it would be lovely served warm with butter for breakfast. But I don’t think that would fly for Halloween.
  3. The quantities above for the frosting gave me enough to frost about 13 of the 24. You can see how high the frosting swirl was, so if you just frost them normally, you should have enough for 24. Or you can double it. Or you can leave some plain for breakfast. That’s what I did.
  4. I used 1/4 cup measurer to scoop out my batter into the cups. Works perfectly.
  5. Happy Halloween!
  6. Update: Just learned the hard way…Krackel is not gluten free.

31 thoughts on “Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. DEFINITELY trick or treating in your ‘hood this Monday. These look amazing! Great pics! And if it wasn’t almost midnight I would go start baking these now myself. All ingredients are in the house!! YUM!

  2. These sound delicious — lucky kids! I love pumpkin desserts but hate cream cheese frosting — wish they weren’t always paired — but imagine it would be equally delicious with a cinnamon vanilla frosting instead. Mmm… may have to try this.

  3. Yum! I want to make these right now. Can’t wait to try…except these won’t be going out to our trick or treaters, we will be hoarding them inside. Rumor has it we should expect upward of 400 costume clad children our new hood. Eeeek!

  4. Love anything pumpkin in it and having it in a cupcake is a bonus. They look yummy and wonderful. I’ll have to try making them this weekend!

    • Hi Paula! Hope you guys are well. Maybe you could make these for the boys birthday? Unless they don’t like pumpkin…then it’s just sort of selfish :) Haha.

  5. I was hoping to have a comment ready this morning about my experience making these last night. Then I realized that it was a bad idea to make cupcakes right before we have a weekend when only Ryan and I are home….because we would eat all of them. So they’re on the baking agenda for Sunday or Monday so we can share them with trick-or-treating neighbors and Ryan’s co-workers.

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  7. Thanks to Emily to putting me on to your blog! I had to check out these cupcakes – fall screams pumpkin – but alas I can’t eat them either because they are not gluten free. I can, however, snicker at your traditions including the wine and chocolate and being the trashy neighbours. I love it! Can’t wait to read your older posts and look forward to my new bookmark :D

    • Thanks Christine! I’ve recently gone gluten free too so I couldn’t enjoy these either but I did just make Elana’s pumpkin bread. It’s GF and good! (I just used canned pumpkin). I’m still trying to find my GF baking mojo. It’s SO different! I do have two GF recipes waiting. Hang tight. They’re coming! Thanks for coming over and commenting!

  8. Emily was totes right, you are hysterical! I especially like the justification of red wine and krackels. Definitely making these like tomorrow and drinking them with a decent amount of wine post-finals :)

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Posted on October 24, 2011

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