Let the Good Times Swirl

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, the perfect dessert for Thanksgiving whether you are hosting or traveling to places near or far. Not only do they taste divine, but with the festive frosting approach, they’re sure to impress too. And the recipe makes two dozen, so you can even hold some back for yourself 😉

My incentive here was to find a seasonal cupcake for an upcoming art show/fundraiser for Artists of Yardley where I am a current member. Since joining, I have been donating something sweet for the Bake Sale portion of the November event; last year it was my decorated Santa Hat Sugar Cookies, shown below.


This year my creative juices flowed in another direction with cupcakes on my brain. I found this tempting recipe on TasteOfHome.com that possessed those warm, comforting flavors of Fall with cinnamon and pumpkin. And who the heck doesn’t salivate over cream cheese frosting?


Of course I had to put my own spin on them—literally—by frosting with a tandum-hued swirl. The technique is pretty simple, and you could even take it a bit further by using three, or even four colors at once. But I was going for understated, not over the top. OK, maybe not totally understated as I had to sprinkle on a bit of white edible glitter for that finishing touch; and add maple extract instead of vanilla.


I was always under the impression that any dairy product needed to be refrigerated, and cream cheese is dairy right? But according to one website, if you’re going to eat the cupcakes in the next day or two and your house stays around 70 degrees or cooler, they should be fine to sit on the counter—even if it is cream cheese frosting, which of course this is. So if you plan to make the cupcakes the day before you plan to share them, it’s okay to go ahead and frost them. In fact, you should, because the icing helps to keep them moist.

But just to be safe, I did store mine in the fridge inside of their decorative boxes before I transported them to the bake sale. I figure they’ll come to room temp when on display. Since I’m not into eating sweets for the most part, The Mr. was my taste tester… a drum roll please… he LOVED them!!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Servings: 2 Dozen
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
  • Print


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or maple) extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin.
  3. Combine flour, pie spice, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and ginger, whisk together until well blended; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  4. Fill 24 paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake 25* minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (*Mine actually took 27-30 minutes.)
  5. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  6. For frosting, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and cinnamon; beat until smooth.

  7. If you want a multicolored effect, divide the icing into equal portions and add coloring to each, mix well. Put each color into a separate 6-8″ throw-away piping bag, then insert both (or all) of them into one large 12-16″ piping bag with a large star tip. You may have to do this a couple of times, depending on bag sizes.
  8. Starting in the center, squeeze the large piping bag to make a star on the top of the cooled cupcake, then move out to the edge while continuing to squeeze the bag. Circle around the outer edge first then continue to move inward until you reach the center and pull up. Repeat with each cupcake.
  9. Refrigerate leftovers (if you have any).


Test Kitchen Tips

  1. For tender baked goods like muffins and cakes, the key is to mix gently. It also helps to whisk your dry ingredients well first, before combining them with any wet ingredients.
  2. These are bursting with autumn flavor, but if you want to take it over the top, try adding a little maple syrup to your frosting or a touch of maple extract to the cupcakes.
  3. It’s very easy to adjust the frosting consistency to your preference. Too stiff? Add milk a teaspoon at a time until the frosting is perfectly spreadable. Too thin? Beat in confectioner’s sugar 1/4 cup at a time until thickened.


Adapted from a recipe found on TasteOfHome.com

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