Moist, fluffy, and buttery pumpkin cupcakes full of pumpkin spice flavor and finished with a cloud of brown butter cream cheese frosting.
What you’ll love about this recipe:
- Two words: Brown. Butter. Pumpkin cupcakes feel synonymous with cream cheese frosting, but add brown butter to the mix, and they become next level!
- To compliment a denser and rich frosting like cream cheese, you need to have a cupcake that isn’t overly sweet. These cupcakes are no exception; they are made with butter and lightly sweetened with dark brown sugar, which won't compromise the full pumpkin spice flavor.
Ingredients you’ll need:
- Pumpkin Puree: if using canned pumpkin, make sure it is 100% pure pumpkin instead of pumpkin pie mix or filling.
- Pumpkin Spice: use your favorite store-bought brand, or feel free to make your own.
- Brown Butter: start with making the brown butter before moving on to the other steps in the recipe. It makes assembly much easier and faster.
- Cream Cheese: make sure the cream cheese you select is full-fat and not reduced fat.
How to make this recipe:
- Make brown butter: preparing ahead of time will help save time as the butter needs to solidify in the refrigerator before making the frosting.
- Make pumpkin cupcake batter: this recipe uses the creaming method.
- Cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until the mixture looks light, fluffy, and pale in color.
- In separate bowls, combine dry ingredients and whisk together wet ingredients.
- To prevent curdling, you will alternate between wet and dry ingredients, starting and ending with flour.
- Fill cupcake tins: I like to use a cookie scoop to fill the cupcake tins with a thicker batter like this one. It helps to measure the batter more evenly and makes less of a mess.
- Make Frosting: while the cupcakes are baking, make the brown butter cream cheese frosting.
- Whip the brown butter.
- Add in cream cheese and cream together until it’s light in color and fluffy.
- Mix in sugar, vanilla, and salt.
- Assemble: to create little cloud-like dollops; I used a large round tip.
- Once cupcakes are frosted, I recommend setting in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving; this will allow it to firm slightly but keep its fluffy texture.
Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days and unfrosted cupcakes for up to 5-7 days.
Canned pumpkin pie filling already has spices and sugar added, whereas puree is 100% pure pumpkin. In recipes using pumpkin puree, like this one, you want to avoid using pumpkin filling as it gives you less control over the recipe’s flavor.
Most cupcakes refrigerate well as long as you store them properly in an airtight container. Frosted cupcakes don’t tend to keep their freshness as long, so storing cupcakes unfrosted is best when preparing ahead of time. For the frosting, you can also prepare the brown butter ahead of time to make assembly a breeze when you are ready to serve your cupcakes.
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If you end up making and enjoying these pumpkin cupcakes with brown butter cream cheese frosting, please consider tagging @nightowlsbakingco on Instagram and leaving a review below.
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- Total Time: 38 minutes
- Yield: 12 cupcakes 1x
Moist, fluffy, and buttery pumpkin cupcakes full of pumpkin spice flavor and finished with brown butter cream cheese frosting.
- ⅔ cup (113g) Dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup (42g) Granulated sugar
- ½ cup (113g) Butter, softened
- 1 cup (127g) All-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Pumpkin spice
- ¼ teaspoon kosher Salt
- ½ cup (113g) Pumpkin puree
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Brown Butter Cream cheese frosting:
- 6 oz (170g) Cream cheese, softened
- 2 oz (56g) Brown butter, cooled and refrigerated*
- 2 cups (250g) Powder sugar
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- ⅛ teaspoon Salt
- Prep the brown butter ahead of time as it needs time to cool and re-solidify before it can be used for the frosting.
- In a small saucepan, melt butter on low-medium heat. As the butter melts, you should see big fast bubbles and hear the butter crackle. Give the pan a swirl every 30 seconds or so to ensure the butter melts evenly. After about 5-7 minutes, the bubbles will become small (almost like foam), the crackling sound will stop, and the browning process will begin. Pay close attention; you don’t want to burn the butter. It will gradually change to an amber color. At this point, remove from heat, pour into a bowl, and refrigerate until solid.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (176° C). Line 12 cupcake tins and set them aside.
- Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin spice, and salt) in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients (pumpkin puree, eggs, and vanilla) until combined. Set aside.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and both sugars on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. The mixture should look fluffy and pale in color.
- At low speed, alternate between dry and wet ingredients in 3 increments, starting and ending with the dry ingredients to prevent curdling.
- Evenly fill cupcake tins with batter. The batter should fill halfway up the liner.
- Bake at 350°F (176° C) for 16 - 18 minutes.
- Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the middle of the cupcake. Your cupcakes are done if a few moist crumbs come out. If not, keep baking in 1-2 minute increments.
- Once done, let them rest in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Brown-butter Cream Cheese Frosting:
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, on medium-low speed cream brown butter for 15-20 seconds. Add in cream cheese and cream together until well incorporated. The mixture should lighten in color and become fluffy.
- Add in half the powder sugar and mix until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl before adding in more sugar. Add in the remaining sugar, salt, and vanilla and mix until well combined.
- TIP: this batter is thick enough that I like to use a 2″ cookie scoop to distribute the batter evenly.
- Cream cheese frosting is not as stable at room temperature as other frostings; I recommend allowing the frosting to be set in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.
- Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days or freezer for up to 2 months. Frosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 18 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Brown Butter, Cream Cheese, Pumpkin Cupcakes, Pumpkin Spice
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