Fall Spice Cupcakes

fall spice cupcakesDespite what retailers would have you believe, it’s still fall. And we have a lovely holiday – Thanksgiving – to celebrate this week. I get that Christmas can be a magical time of year for people, and most folks (even those who hate winter) get excited for the holidays, seeing family, spending time with friends, having special foods and whatnot. But when I heard Christmas music while out shopping this past weekend, I thought: not today, Santa. Not. Today.

Perhaps in response to the premature Christmasification of things, I baked these fall spice cupcakes, a warming combination of cinnamon, cloves, maple syrup, and applesauce. I found the recipe over at The Live-in Kitchen and cut it down to make a smaller batch, and I decided on a maple buttercream frosting instead of the original cream cheese one in the recipe. These treats are bound for my friend Diana, who is a fantastic baker herself and one of the few people who ever actually bakes for me.


For the cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, at room temperature

For the frosting

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners; my recipe yielded 10 cupcakes.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and cloves; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add maple syrup and egg and beat to combine. Add flour mixture and applesauce alternatively in two batches, mixing to just combine.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into cupcake wells, filling about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and remove cupcakes from tin; cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.

To make frosting, beat butter on medium speed for about 1 minute; add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter. Add maple syrup to taste, as well as 1 tablespoon milk to reach a spreadable consistency. Frost cupcakes using an offset spatula; store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days, or in the fridge for 2-3 days. The tops of these cupcakes get kind of sticky, so a cooler environment is best. Makes 10.


Fall Fun Chocolate Cupcakes

fallfuncupcakesI struggled to figure out what to call these cupcakes. They’re actually just chocolate cupcakes, frosted with vanilla buttercream to look like pumpkins. But chocolate pumpkin cupcakes – that’s a different thing altogether. And it actually sounds delicious, despite what some people might think about the pumpkin/chocolate combo. And so, I settled on “fall fun,” because they were fun to make.

As you can see in the photo below, Tucker was quite impressed with them – but as they’re chocolate, they are absolutely not dog friendly.¬†Next time, I’ll go with more vibrant colors for my frosting – these shades are quite muted. I’ll also use a different piping tip for my pumpkin stems, because these ended up looking more like the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter than I’d like. Regardless of how they look, they’re quite tasty. I hope my brother Andy and nephew Roman, who were in town from North Carolina this weekend, will enjoy them.


For the cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

For the frosting

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Orange, green, and brown food coloring


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; this recipe yields 14 cupcakes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well-blended, then make three wells for the wet ingredients.

Place vinegar, vanilla, and vegetable oil into the wells; add water and mix until the batter is smooth. The mixture will bubble up slightly when you add the water, so just keep mixing until you get a smooth consistency in the batter, which will be fairly thin.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, divide batter among your cupcake wells. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, then remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on wire racks.

To make frosting, in a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes. Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine completely. Divide into three portions; two small portions of just a few tablespoons each for your stems and leaves, then the remainder for your pumpkins. Tint the largest portion orange, then the smaller portions green and brown. Fit a large piping bag with a Wilton M1 tip and pipe swirls of frosting onto each cupcake to create your pumpkin shape. Fit a small piping bag with a star or plain tip and pipe stems; fit another small piping bag with a leaf tip and pipe leaves. Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. Makes 14.

tuckerwithcupcakesTucker was very interested in these, but remember Рchocolate can be deadly for dogs. Never feed your pup chocolate!