Toasted Pecan Pumpkin Cupcakes Maple Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- For the Cupcakes:
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon (slightly rounded)
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon mace
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted*
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans**
- For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 4 ounces cold cream cheese (no whipped, no low-fat, high-quality preferred)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold but still firm
- pinch kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/3 cup Maple Caramel Sauce
- For the Maple Caramel Sauce:
- 2 cups grade B maple syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sweet cream, unsalted butter
- 2 large pinches sea salt (I use fleur de sel)
Adapted from americanheritagecooking.com
Make the Cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350° and line 14 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners. I use two standard paper liners per cupcake.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and all spices; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat sugars and melted butter together with a hand mixer until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla after the last egg.
Add the pumpkin and mix on medium until smooth and creamy, about 30 seconds.
Alternately add flour and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. I add a third of the flour then half of the buttermilk and repeat. Fold the last flour addition in by hand to avoid over mixing. Fold in pecans.
Scoop into prepared tins, filling almost to the top of the cup. Add some crumble to the top of each cupcake. Bake in preheated oven 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few clinging crumbs. Mine took 18 minutes.
Remove immediately from muffin tins to cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the caramel sauce:
Pour maple syrup in a deep pot with a thick bottom. Being to a boil over medium heat and let boil softly for ~15 minutes. Stir every few minutes with a heat proof spatula or spoon to reduce the bubbles. You will notice that the syrup will start to coat the outside of the spatula or spoon and will cool quickly into a caramel-like consistency. It will resemble candy at the softball stage.
Stir in the butter until it is completely melted and then add the cream, stirring constantly. It will not bubble up dangerously like caramel but it will still be very hot. Add the salt and then stir to mix.
Make the Frosting:
Using a handmixer, beat cream cheese, butter, salt and cinnamon on medium speed until smooth and creamy, approximately 2-3 minutes.
Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing until smooth and creamy. Slowly pour the caramel into the frosting in gradual increments until the frosting is a spreadable consistency and achieves the maple flavor you desire. My maple caramel was a bit runny so I added full amount but then added some more powdered sugar to thicken it back up. You can adjust to your liking.
The frosting will keep best in the refrigerator but it will also keep for several days at room temperature.
Assemble the Cupcakes:
Once cupcakes are cool, frost with your favorite piping tip!