Is there anything like pumpkin spice everything to ring in the fall season? This is my favorite recipe for Pumpkin Spice Latte cupcakes, adapted from several recipes I found on the internet and modified for altitude baking. If you are feeling especially ambitious, you can make your own caramel topping using the recipe below. You can experiment with the amount of espresso powder depending on how much coffee flavor you want. The original recipe called for 1 teaspoon which I found to little to give me the flavor I wanted. Be extra careful when filling the liners; these cupcakes rise very well during baking.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
¾ cup canned pumpkin
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2½ teaspoons espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
Preheat the oven to 375°F convection (see notes). Line two 12-cup muffin tins with about 14 cupcake liners.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin spice in a medium bowl; set aside.
Combine sugars with oil and mix well. Add in the pumpkin, and stir until incorporated.
Sift in dry ingredients and mix gently until just incorporated. Add espresso then mix in the eggs, one at a time, just until incorporated.
Remove mixer bowl and stir batter together to ensure everything is incorporated. I do this by hand to ensure nothing is overmixed.
Scoop batter into cupcake liners using an ice cream scoop or measuring cup. Fill liners about half full.
Bake for 5-10 minutes on convection. Then turn off convection and bake another 5-12 minutes or until cupcake springs back when pressed in the center. Total baking time should be about 17 minutes.
Cook completely and frost with cream cheese buttercream frosting.
Pumpkin Spice Caramel
1 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
Add sugar to a saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly until it begins to melt into a clear liquid. Continue stirring until clumps of sugar begin to form and turn from white to amber in color. Keep stirring until all the clumps of sugar have dissolved, and then turn off the heat. Mix in butter slowly, then stir in cream, salt, and pumpkin spice. Place in fridge to cool for 20 minutes, then pour into desired container. Allow to cool completely before using. The caramel will keep for several weeks in the fridge.
** Note: This recipe, like all of my cake recipes, has been modified for high altitude by reducing the baking powder and baking soda by ¼ teaspoon and preheating the oven temperature from 350 °F to 375 °F convection. After 5-10 minutes, turn off the convection and bake on the regular setting for the remainder of the time. If you don’t have a convection oven, be sure you fully preheat the oven then bake at 375 °F.
Additional modifications to all of my baked goods are the order in which I add the ingredients.
First combine the fat with the sugar. This takes longer with butter than with oil. Make sure the sugar is fully incorporated.
Next add any liquid ingredients (sour cream, milk, water, extracts, etc.)
Add dry ingredients just until combined. Over-mixing dry ingredients develops the gluten and results in a tough texture.
Last, add the eggs. Many recipes have you add the eggs up front and whip them into submission. Over-mixing the eggs like this introduces excess air that escapes during baking - this is cake death at altitude.
If you have problems with sinking cupcakes even at low altitudes, try these adjustments. I have gotten comfortable enough with standard adjustments that I am having success with nearly all of the recipes I try.