Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

There are some things that visually signify the start of the fall season. Green leaves being replaced by an array of dazzling reds, yellows, and browns. Apples, pears, grapes, pomegranates, pumpkins, butternut squash, cauliflower, sweet potatoes making their way into the markets. Fog rolling across the hillsides. Boots, scarves, and cardigans replacing flip flops and tank tops.

Unfortunately, living in the desert in Arizona we have virtually zero natural indicators of the fall season until it’s well into winter.  All those things sound nice, glorious really, but that’s not how we Phoenicians can tell it’s autumn. We can tell it’s the start of the fall season when the chain stores put up massive Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas product displays despite the fact that it’s still 100 degrees out. When it seems the only thing on television is endless games of football. When all of our midwest friends and family members start talking about some strange thing called snow. But best of all, when our favorites shops, cafes, and restaurants begin offering seasonal items like pumpkin spice lattes.

Recipe Rundown
Taste: Just like fall, just like your favorite seasonal coffee-shop drink. I love that these cupcakes are clearly a dessert yet not cloying.
Texture: The cakes are perfectly moist, the cream is light, and the caramel sticks to your lips.
Ease: I made my caramel sauce a day ahead of time (you could also use store-bought). Making the cakes a day ahead of time would be a time-saver too.
Appearance: Gorgeous.
Pros: The perfect cupcake version of that beloved autumn coffee drink.
Cons: None.
Would I make this again? Yes.

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Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons espresso powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 large eggs

For the whipped cream:
2 1/4 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

For garnish:
caramel sauce (I used half of this recipe)


For the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Stir together and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full. Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans. Let cool completely.

For the frosting:
Place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-low speed at first, gradually increasing to high speed. Blend in the confectioners’ sugar gradually. Whip until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over-beat. Use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to frost the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and drizzle with caramel sauce. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.


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23 Responses to “Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes”

  1. #
    Melis@IWasBornToCook — September 30, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Fall is my favorite season, and pumpkin spice anything is usually a good sign that the season's here. These cupcakes look delicious!

  2. #
    Chris@KeenanCookbook — September 30, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    These pictures are making me fiend for cupcakes. Love them!

  3. #
    ursula — September 30, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    These sound really interesting! I've never had a pumpkin spice latte (I've never even heard of them!) and I don't think you can get pumpkin puree in a can here, so I'll just look at how lovely your pictures are!

  4. #
    Tracy — September 30, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I love pumpkin spice lattes and these cupcakes look fabulous! I just pinned them on to my fall board. :-)

    • handleheat replied: — September 30th, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

      Thanks Tracy :)

  5. #
    Annie — September 30, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    So glad you enjoyed these :)

  6. #
    Rachel — September 30, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Oh goodness, I think I might have to make these for a BBQ this sunday. That caramel sauce has my mouth watering!

  7. #
    soniarumzi — October 1, 2011 at 1:50 am

    My daughter would love these Tessa. Thank you.

  8. #
    Anna — October 1, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Clicking on the 'myfavorite' button…This has to be served, I am thinking next Saturday…Hmmm…or probably tomorrow?

  9. #
    Denise @ TLT — October 1, 2011 at 8:10 am

    They look gorgeous, perfect for the season!

  10. #
    Lauren — October 1, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I saw these on Annie's site as well – and recently posted a streusel muffin version! Your cupcakes look perfect :).

  11. #
    Lori — October 1, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Can you post your caramel sauce? Cupcakes look amazing

  12. #
    Melissa Likes To Eat — October 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Gorgeous! Those cupcakes scream fall!

  13. #
    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — October 1, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    This looks so dam good! I need to make this! Words can't justify how I feel! :)

  14. #
    adbuckits — October 2, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    made these today! fabulous!!! everyone loved!

  15. #
    Ally — October 3, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    I adore the combination of espresso, spice & pumpkin. Fantastic!
    xo http://allykayler.blogspot.com

  16. #
    JenSchall — October 6, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    These look fabulous! I am completely swept up in the pumpkin spice latte craze, so I know I would devour these!

  17. #
    Camilla — October 30, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Hi, Tessa!
    Hi from Moscow (Russia). My name is Camilla, and though my English is not very good, I decided to write to you. I'm in love with your site. Recipes are excellent, and the pictures just beautiful! So many recipes caught my attention, but I decided to start with these wonderful pumpkin cupcakes.
    We, unlike your warm climate, has long been a real fall occurred, and this dessert is what we really need. I want to say a big THANK YOU for the recipe! Cupcakes turned out great. Will definitely make them again. And not only them)).

  18. #
    Tiffany — November 4, 2011 at 4:08 am

    Wow! These look absolutely amazing! I was searching for a great “Fall” recipe and this seems like an absolute perfect fit. :) Thanks for sharing!


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