I’m doing it. I’m getting one more pumpkin recipe in before it’s officially December, and therefore, officially wintertime.
I don’t know why there’s some kind of weird cultural taboo on pumpkin desserts after Thanksgiving, but I’m totally against it. I barely bake enough with pumpkin during autumn, to heck if I’m going to miss prime opportunities for treats that are warm and spicy and flavored with pumpkin.
I made these cupcakes a little more acceptable for this time of year. The “not quite winter but no longer fall” time. The “do I get a pumpkin spice or gingerbread latte?” time. The “my hands are too cold without gloves but too sweaty with them” time. You guys know what I’m talking about right? Anyone? Anyone? (“Bueller? Bueller?”)
Anyways, these cupcakes are ABSOLUTELY FREAKIN’ DELCIOUS. I’m not a huge user of CAPS so you know, THESE ARE AMAZEBUCKETS. A rich pecan cookie crust topped with a dense pumpkin cake topped with a thick cream cheese frosting. Layers of love, my friends. I like rich desserts and these Pecan Shortbread Crusted Browned Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting fit the bill. Not because they’re overly sweet, no, the nuttiness of the shortbread crust perfectly balances out the sugary frosting. They’re just sweet enough but they’ve got heft, they’ve got weight. Consider these cupcakes your weightlifting for the day.
Pecan Shortbread Crusted Browned Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (makes 16 cupcakes, recipe by Amanda)
For the shortbread:
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
¼ - ½ tsp. cinnamon (depending on preference, add more or less)
½ cup finely chopped pecans (I ground pecan halves in a food processor)
Line cupcake tin with paper liners and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and pecans and set aside.
Cream together butter and sugar just until uniform. We’re not trying to whip a lot of air into these cookies; we want them dense and crumbly. Add egg and mix until combined.
Stir in flour mixture until fully incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
Scoop out dough by rounded tablespoons into prepared cupcake tins. Press down dough to form a crust.
Place in fridge to chill for 2 hours, or in a pinch, pop them in the freezer for 30 minutes.
For the cupcakes:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 whole egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup canned (or fresh, if you’re domestic like that) pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Once completely melted, allow to bubble and foam for a minute or two, then begin to swirl the pan. Continue swirling until the butter has stopped foaming and you see small bits beginning to collect on the bottom of the pan, about 4 – 5 minutes. The butter will smell nutty. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Cream together the now cooled butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in egg and vanilla and beat once more until light and fluffy, another two minutes. Stir in pumpkin puree until mixture is uniform.
Working in three batches, add the flour to the batter and slowly mix until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain, scraping the bowl as necessary.
Fill the (now chilled) shortbread crusted cupcake liners ¾ of the way full with batter. Bake in preheated oven 25 – 30 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.
Remove cupcakes from oven and cool completely on wire rack.
Top cooled cupcakes with a generous amount of Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows).
Cupcakes can be stored in fridge for up to 4 days, simply remove 30 minutes prior to serving.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 – 8oz. block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 – 4 TBSP. heavy cream (or milk)
1 TBSP. cinnamon
Cream together butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of the cream. Slowly, begin to beat ingredients together, increasing speed from low to medium to high. Whip until fluffy, adding more cream to reach desired consistency. Thoroughly mix in cinnamon.