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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Molasses Frosting

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Molasses Frosting

I’m afraid of an open flame. I have burned myself, like, a million times on a hot oven, hot pan, hot pot. I’ve got scars all over my hands and forearms. Occupational hazard, I guess. But it’s the open flame that really does a number on me. Since I have a gas oven and stove, even without power I should be able to bake in my current state. The State of Blackout. I’m too chicken to light the pilot myself, though. Lucky for us, I baked ahead.

I write to you from the local library. Even those of you (read: not me) in the path of the storm lucky enough to have your lights back on may not yet have Internet access. I got nothin’. Which means that I’m rendered practically mute. I’m barely keeping it together, here. I’m good in a crisis, but not one of this open-ended nature, I’m afraid.

On a brighter note, I am digging this baking-with pumpkin-butter thing! You really can’t match the depth of flavor in pumpkin butter with an equal amount of pumpkin puree – canned or fresh. I made mini cupcakes thinking that I would pack some in my kids’ lunches this week. They’re always talking about those little bags of “mini bites” that Nabisco or somebody or other makes. These stay moist enough that they’ll survive a few days on the counter so you can keep packing them for lunch – minus the frosting of course. When it turned out that there would be no school all this week (thank you, dear hurricane), we just ate them all by candlelight.

Part of me can’t believe that my kids feel deprived that they don’t have those prepackaged mini muffins in their lunchboxes. I mean, can you even begin to imagine the embarrassment of baked riches in their lives? But most of me totally gets it. They’re kids. I’m pretty sure Janet Jackson was talking about being a parent. It’s all “what have you done for me lately?” So here’s what I’ve done for you lately: Soft and moist, 2-bite mini pumpkin butter cupcakes with just a dollop of cream cheese molasses frosting. If you want to make these maxi, in a standard 12-cup muffin tin, just bake them for about 10 minutes longer, still at 325°F.

Please, if it’s not too much trouble, think good power thoughts for me. We’re so so close (a new utility pole is up! the fallen trees are removed!) but the power company hasn’t seen fit to attach us to the new pole! I may have to get up the nerve to light that oven pilot light after all. ;)

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Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 48 mini cupcakes


1 1/2 cups (210 g) high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (109 g) packed light brown sugar

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

5 ounces pumpkin butter

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 extra-large eggs (120 g) at room temperature, beaten

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups (230 g) confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons milk or cream


  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease or line two 24-cup mini muffin tins and set them aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well.  Add the brown sugar and whisk to combine, working out any lumps in the brown sugar. Add the butter, pumpkin butter, vanilla and eggs, and beat until well-combined and smooth. The batter will be light, but scoop-able.

  • Fill the prepared muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full, and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake until golden and the top springs back when pressed gently with your fingertip (about 10 minutes). Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.
    Place the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy (1-2 minutes). Add the molasses, pumpkin pie spice and salt, and mix again on high until well-combined.  Add the confectioner’s sugar, and mix on low speed to combine. Once the sugar has been absorbed by the butter and cream cheese mixture, add 1 tablespoon of milk and turn the mixer up to high speed and mix for about 3 minutes, or until the frosting is fluffy and thickened. If necessary, add the remaining tablespoon of milk and continue to beat until the frosting is fluffy.

  • Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a small tip, and pipe a generous amount of frosting on top of each cooled cupcake. Serve immediately. Store any leftovers at room temperature in a sealed container for 2-3 days.



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