It’s been ages since I have been in the test kitchen. The temperature in Salt Lake City jumped up to 108°F the weekend before July 4th and it remained scorching hot through the summer. Firing up the oven just seemed like a little trip to hell so all cooking the last couple of months has been outside – on the grill or in the smoker.
But fall is finally here and Pumpkin Spice Latte season has arrived. And while I am not one to stand in line at Starbucks for a venti of this deliciousness, I definitely understand those who do. So with temperatures finally coming down, I thought it would be fun to try my own version – PSL in a cupcake. Actually, that wasn’t my first thought when PSL season arrived. My daughter is a wizard at making bath bombs and several weeks ago she gave me a hands-on tutorial. I was thinking about all of the Halloween bath bombs I would make and I thought about creating a PSL version. If only I was any good at bath bombs … But hey, I’m pretty good at cupcakes so I decided to leave the bath bombs to the expert I and I created a Pumpkin Spice Latte cupcake.
There were a lot of recipes out there and I was tempted to try the doctored cake mix version because the altitude here shows no mercy. In the end, I settled on a recipe that includes real pumpkin in the list of ingredients and a tweak to my baking technique. The cupcakes turned out perfectly. Was it the perfect recipe? The perfect technique? A little bit of both? I don’t know, but I’m not changing any of it.
I am in a constant state of stalking recipes and researching techniques to widen my aperture. For me, the perfect cupcake has a slightly domed top out of the oven that doesn’t deflate as it cools. But I have noticed a lot of recipe blogs and videos where the cupcake is slightly sunken in the middle and no apologies. So maybe I’m too hard on myself and a little concavity is okay – just fill it in with frosting. But that’s not good enough for me. And this recipe delivers.
I am including the cream cheese frosting and caramel topping because they are part of the entire recipe, but I opted for a simple buttercream with a little Kahlua to bump up the coffee flavor. Play with the quantity of pumpkin pie spice and espresso to balance your own tastes. I increased the espresso and decreased the spice from the original recipe but you may prefer a lower coffee-to-spice ratio. I put a link to the original recipe below.
Happy autumn, I hope you enjoy the return to your indoor kitchen as much as I have.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¾ cup canned pumpkin
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
Preheat oven to 375 °F. Line two muffin tins with 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.
Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, and bake for 17 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool.
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
While the cupcakes bake, prepare the pumpkin spice caramel. 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.
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Next, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, pipe icing on top using your favorite tip. Drizzle with Pumpkin Spice Caramel. Lightly dust the cupcakes with pumpkin spice.
Here is a link to the original recipe.