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A BFA Painting and Drawing graduate gone cookie designer and decorator.  I bring my knowledge of art, composition, and color to pastries to create the perfect cookies and cakes for your events or occasions.
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Every year for Thanksgiving I always make Pumpkin Bread and Cornbread.  This year though, I wanted to make pumpkin cupcakes instead.  I wanted to do something a little different than typical Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing.  I decided on makes Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream and Cranberry Syrup.  I also wanted a crunchy element so I added Candied Pepitas as well.  The tartness of the cranberry sauce contrasts the sweetness of the white chocolate buttercream.  The pepitas are sweet and crunchy and full of spices.  The cake is full of pumpkin flavor and warm spices like cinnamon and cloves.  They're the perfect pumpkin treat.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
Made Gluten Free by Jesicakes
Makes 2 dozen cupcakes
Print Recipe
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup brown rice flour
- 2/3 cup sorghum flour
- 1/3 cup white rice flour
- 1/3 cup tapioca flour
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Line two cupcake pans with liners.
Whisk together the dry ingredients: brown rice flour, sorghum flour, white rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
In a mixer, beat together the sugar, butter, and eggs on medium for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is silky and has increased a bit in volume.
Gradually add the flour with the mixture on low.
Add the pumpkin.  Mix until combined, scrape down the sides if needed.
Fill the cupcake liners about 1/2 way.  Bake for 20-25 minutes turning halfway.  The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center come out clean and when they feel springy.
Allow the cupcakes to cool for about five minutes.  Remove them from the pan and allow them to completely cool on a cooling rack.
Just a little random tip, but I had a little extra batter and only two cupcake tins.  So I thought I'd try and throw it in a madeleine pan.  I got four "madeleines" out of it.  They're definitely not as light and airy as madeleine batter should be, but they were still delicious.  They took 8-10 minutes to bake.  It's just a nice quick way to use up extra batter if you have a little bit left and already have enough cupcakes.

While your cupcakes are baking and cooling you can make the rest of the components.  You can also make any of these in advanced.

White Chocolate Buttercream
Recipe adapted from My Adventures in the Country
Makes about 3 cups of buttercream, almost a perfect amount for 2 dozen cupcakes.
Print Recipe
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6 ounces white chocolate
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler on the stove.  If melting it in the microwave be careful to melt it in small increments.  White chocolate can burn easily.

Cream the butter in an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the white chocolate while it's still silky.  If you allow it to cool too much you'll get clumps of white chocolate in your icing.

Begin to gradually add the sifted powdered sugar.  You want it to sweeten the buttercream and give it body.  I used 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.  I taste it after every cup or half cup to see if I want to add more.  Everyone likes their buttercream at different levels of sweetness.  Beat the buttercream until it's smooth and fluffy.
Once the cupcakes are completely cool you can top them with the White Chocolate Buttercream.  If you'd like to use cream cheese icing I have a recipe for that here.

Candied Pepitas
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
Print Recipe
- 1 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
- 6 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 large egg white
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1/2 tsp cloves, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 pinch cayenne or chili powder
Preaheat oven to 350˚F.  Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl.  Line a baking sheet with foil or a silpat liner.  Bake until golden and slightly puffed, about 10 minutes.  Halfway through I tasted them and felt they needed more spices, so I dusted them with more cinnamon and cloves.
They'll be a bit clumped together but they break apart easily.  Make sure to leave them uncovered until they are completely cooled.  If you cover them before they're cooled, they'll become soft and chewy instead of nice and crispy.
Top the buttercream with the pepitas.  I iced my cupcakes two ways.  I don't really like a lot of icing, so I iced mine pretty flatly with a spatula.  I them coated the top with the candied pepitas to give it some extra crunch and spice.  I also iced them with a piping bag for cupcakes with more icing, which people typically like more.  I sprinkled them lightly with pepitas.

Cranberry Syrup
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Print Recipe
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup fresh cranberries or thawed frozen cranberries, chop if desired.
- 1/2 cup water
Cook the sugar in a dry saucepan over moderate heat until it begins to melt.  Cook until it lightly caramelizes.

Carefully add the water and the cranberries.  The caramelized sugar will seize up and harden.  Lower the temperature and simmer until the caramel dissolves.  If you didn't pre-chop the cranberries, smash them with the back of a spoon.

Once the caramel dissolves, pour it through a sieve into a heat proof bowl.  Press the cranberry pulp to release any liquid left in them.  Allow the syrup to cool completely before using.
Drizzle the tops of the cupcakes with the cranberry syrup.  It adds a nice tartness to compliment the sweetness of the white chocolate.
I topped the cupcakes with the cranberry drizzle upon serving.  If the syrup sits on the cake too long it can make it a little soggy.

Altogether, it may take a half hour more than simply making them without the toppings.  If you're good at multitasking in the kitchen, you can even make the pepitas, cupcake bases, and cranberry sauce all at once.  Otherwise, prep ahead!  I made my buttercream, pepitas, and cranberry sauce a few days before making my cupcake bases.

It may seem like there is a lot of work needed to go into these, and while they have more components than simply a plain cupcake with buttercream, that little bit of extra work will make all the difference in flavor.  The warmth of all the spices and the pumpkin make these perfect for fall.  The pepitas add a nice crunchy component and the cranberry syrup adds a great tartness to the sweet white chocolate buttercream. 


  1. Mmmmm it seems delicious!
    You have a new follower!
    Regards from Uruguay - South America!

    1. I hope if you try them they're as delicious as they look!
      Thanks for following!