Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Espresso Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin spice cupcakes with espresso cream cheese frosting
pumpkin spice cupcakes with espresso frosting

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, ovens are being heated up across the United States. Cooks and bakers are frantically creating dishes that can be made ahead so the Big Meal is a little less stressful. But they’ll need breakfast (or a snack) that day too, and this tasty treat should still echo the flavors of the holiday. Iconic Pumpkin Spice can make an appearance long before the feast is at its end in the form of a pick-me-up cupcake for a harried chef to nibble on.

To come up with a snack or breakfast item that contains fall flavors, I modified a cake recipe to become a cupcake recipe. For high altitude I adjusted the amounts of baking soda and flour. To make the baked good more suitable for breakfast, its nutrition was elevated by using a combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour. I also topped it with a frosting rich in espresso flavor for a caffeinated morning boost. You may think a cupcake is too decadent for breakfast, but I see it as a reward for getting up so early to prepare the festive meal.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Espresso Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cake and Banana Cake with Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting

for the cupcakes
1.5 cups non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1.75 cups + 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1.75 cups vegan granulated sugar
1.5 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the frosting
1/2 cup (112 grams) vegan butter (not margarine), slightly softened
8 ounces vegan cream cheese (the firmest you can find)
2.5 to 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1.5 to 2 tablespoons espresso powder (depending on how strong you want the flavor)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Fill 21 cups of two muffin tins with paper liners. Combine the non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside to curdle.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the curdled milk, pumpkin puree, oil, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until combined.

Use an ice cream scoop to divide the batter into the 21 cups, filling them 2/3 full. Bake for 27-29 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Set the muffin tins on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. After that, tip the cupcakes out onto the rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle blade. Beat on low to medium speed until softened. Add the cream cheese and continue beating at low to medium speed until blended.

In a small bowl, add the espresso powder and 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir to combine. Add this liquid to the bowl of the stand mixer and briefly beat to combine. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating on low to medium speed until fully blended. Use all 3 cups if the frosting is too soft to pipe onto the cupcakes.

When the frosting is blended and fluffy, spoon it into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and frost the cooled cupcakes. Cover and store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days so you have them for Thanksgiving.

Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving and happy baking!

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