Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

In the fall, my daughter would love to eat some sort of “pumpkin spice” item every day to celebrate the season. 😉 She loved these cupcakes!

These super moist cupcakes were delicious but it was the maple-cream cheese frosting that really put them over the top. The frosting was fabulously creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness.

The recipe was adapted from David Leite via smittenkitchen.com. I modified the method and used fine sea salt.

Yield: 18 cupcakes (with leftover frosting)

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

For the Frosting:

  • Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) pure maple syrup
  • pinch fine sea salt

To Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Heat oven to 350° (175°C), preferably on convection. Line a cupcake pan with 18 liners.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition.
  5. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.
  6. Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures to the mixer, beginning and ending with the flour.
  7. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.
  8. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — you’re looking to get them 3/4 full. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  9. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, rotating halfway through the baking time, about 19 to 20 minutes on convection or up to 20 to 25 minutes in a standard oven.
  10. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely before topping with the frosting.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter to combine.
  2. Add all of the additional ingredients and continue to beat on medium speed until fluffy.
  3. Frost the tops of each cupcake, swirling decoratively. (I used a pastry bag and decorative piping tip.)
  4. Refrigerate cupcakes for 30 minutes to set up frosting prior to serving.

Maple Layer Cake with Maple-Vanilla Buttercream

This maple variation of the “All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake” from the famed Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum may quite possibly be the best cake I’ve ever made. My son chose it to celebrate his 16th birthday. 🙂 His favorite flavor profile usually incorporates vanilla and/or cream soda so this maple cake was a definitely a good choice.

I adapted the recipe to bake the cake in 8-inch cake pans. I also used fine sea salt and substituted vanilla extract for maple extract. It was very moist and rich. Fabulous.

I served this cake after an indulgent meal made to order for my birthday boy. He requested penne alla vodka, chicken parmesan, garlic bread, and Caesar salad. No one argued- all family favorites. 🙂

Yield: One 8-inch layer cake, about 12 to 14 servings

For the Cake: (all ingredients at room temperature)

  • 6 large egg yolks (3.5 fl oz/4 oz/112 g)
  • 1 liquid cup (8.5 oz/242 g) milk (I used 2% milk)
  • 2 1/4 tsp (9 g) pure vanilla extract (can substitute 3/4 tsp vanilla extract + 1 tsp maple extract)
  • 300 g (3 cups/10.5 oz) cake flour, sifted
  • 300 g (2 cups/10.5 oz) maple sugar, sifted (from Whole Foods)
  • 19.5 g (1 T + 1 tsp) baking powder
  • 5 g (3/4 tsp) fine sea salt
  • 12 T (6 oz/170 g) unsalted butter, softened

  1. Butter two 8-inch (2-in deep) cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper. Dust bottom and sides with flour, tap out excess. Set aside. (The layers can alternatively be baked in 9-inch cake pans that are 1 1/2-in deep.)
  2. Position an oven rack in the center position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  3. In a medium bowl, lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup of the milk, and vanilla. (I used a 2 cup measuring cup.)
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed for 30 seconds to blend.
  5. Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low-speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides.
  6. Gradually add the egg-milk mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans. (I weigh them to distribute the batter evenly.) The pans should be about 1/2 full.
  8. Bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. (I baked mine for 27 minutes.) *The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
  9. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes.
  10. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up. Let cool completely before frosting or storing.

Note: The unfrosted layers can be wrapped tightly and stored for 2 days at room temperature, 5 days refrigerated, and 2 months frozen. The frosted cake should be stored in the refrigerator.

For the Neoclassic Maple-Vanilla Buttercream: (all ingredients at room temperature)

Yield: 4 cups, enough to fill and frost two 8-inch layers

  • 6 large egg yolks (3.5 fl oz/4 oz/112 g)
  • 150 g (3/4 cup/5.25 oz) granulated sugar
  • 164 g (1/2 liquid cup/5.75 oz) pure maple syrup
  • 1 pound (4 sticks/2 cups/454 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoons
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract or maple extract
  1. Grease a 1-cup heatproof measuring cup. Set aside.
  2. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. (I used a stainless steel bowl.) Using a hand mixer, beat the egg yolks until light in color.
  3. Combine the sugar and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a full rolling boil. (The entire surface will be covered with large bubbles- see note.) Immediately transfer the syrup to the prepared glass measuring cup to stop the cooking.
  4. Using a hand mixer, beat the syrup into the egg yolks in a steady stream. Don’t allow the syrup to fall on the beaters. Use a rubber scraper to remove any syrup remaining in the measuring cup.
  5. Continue beating until the mixture is completely cool.
  6. Gradually beat in the butter. (I incorporated 1 stick at a time.)
  7. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  8. Use immediately, or store in an airtight bowl in the refrigerator. (If stored, bring to room temperature before using.)

Note: The syrup must come to a rolling boil or the finished buttercream will be too thin.

Rosemary-Mustard Pork Tenderloin with Maple-Onion Jam

I am a major sauce fan. The sweet onion jam really made this dish special. The meat was also loaded with flavor from the rosemary-mustard-garlic seasoning. I served it with maple syrup roasted acorn squash, and roasted gold and sweet potatoes, carrots, and kohlrabi. It was a weeknight feast.

This recipe was adapted from Antoni in the Kitchen by Antoni Porowski. I increased the amount of garlic and substituted apple cider for bourbon in the onion jam. Delicious.

Yield: Serves 4

For the Maple-Onion Jam:

  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds red onions, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 4 1/2 cups)(I used 2 large onions)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup fresh apple cider or bourbon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Rosemary-Mustard Pork Tenderloin:

  • 4 to 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 T grainy or creamy Dijon mustard
  • 1 T plus 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 (1 to 1 1/4-pound) pork tenderloins
  • 1 T unsalted butter

To Make the Maple-Onion Jam:

  1. In a large heavy skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium heat until the butter is melted. (I used a stainless steel sauté pan.)
  2. Add the onions and 1/4 tsp salt, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are very tender and sweet, 30 to 35 minutes.
  3. Add the maple syrup and cider (or bourbon), increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the onions are jammy, about 7 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully and lower the heat if necessary.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in pepper and 1/4 tsp salt. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: The jam can be made ahead, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

To Make the Rosemary-Mustard Pork Tenderloin:

  1. While the jam cooks, mound the sliced garlic with 1 teaspoon salt on a cutting board. Using a chef’s knife, mash and chop into a paste.
  2. Transfer garlic to a small bowl. Stir in the mustard, rosemary, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 2 tsp olive oil.
  3. With a paring knife or kitchen shears, make 12 x-shaped incisions, about 1/8-inch deep, all over each tenderloin.
  4. Rub the tenderloin all over with the garlic mixture, stuffing bits into the incisions.
  5. With a rack in the center, heat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast. (This temperature is ideal for roasting vegetables at the same time.)
  6. In a large oven proof skillet, heat the butter and remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and foamy. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  7. Add the tenderloins and cook until browned on the bottom, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. Turn browned side up and transfer the skillet to the preheated oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork reads 135 degrees, about 15 to 20 minutes. (I used the oven probe.)
  9. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Cut the pork into thick slices and serve with the onion jam.

Sour Cream Maple Cake with Maple Buttercream Frosting

We have enjoyed this wonderful “snack” cake on a couple of occasions this fall. It is dangerously easy to make and was incredibly moist and very tasty. I forgot to drizzle the top with maple syrup on both occasions. Not necessary!

The recipe was adapted from Bake from Scratch magazine, via the Washington Post. The frosting is a little bit salty- which we liked- but the salt level can be adjusted to taste. We ate it chilled. Great.

Yield: One 9×9-inch cake, about 16 pieces

For the Cake:

  • cooking spray or unsalted butter, softened, for greasing the pan
  • 2 1/2 cups (344 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) pure maple syrup, preferably dark grade (I used grade A amber)
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) canola oil
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (200 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably dark grade, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (to taste)

To Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, with the rack in the middle.
  2. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan. (I used cooking oil spray.) Line the pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over the sides of the pan (the overhang will give you handles to lift the cake out after it’s baked). Lightly spray (or butter) the parchment.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the maple syrup, oil, milk, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, sour cream and vanilla, and stir with a rubber spatula just until combined and no streaks of flour remain. (There will be some lumps in the batter; this is okay.)
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan on the counter eight times to release air bubbles.
  6. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until deep golden and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, covering with foil after 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning. (It may dip in the middle, don’t worry.)(I baked mine for 30 minutes but would add 2 to 3 minutes next time to decrease the amount of dipping.)
  7. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Using the parchment overhang as handles, remove from the pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. In the same (cleaned-out) bowl you used to make the cake, beat the butter with a handheld mixer on medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. (You can do this in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, if you prefer.)
  2. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until combined.
  3. Add the sour cream, maple syrup and salt, and beat at medium-high speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not overbeat. (Add 1/4 tsp salt, taste and add the additional 1/4 tsp, to taste.)
  4. Spread the frosting onto the cooled cake. Drizzle with additional maple syrup, if desired, and serve. (I preferred to serve it slightly chilled.)

Maple-Blueberry Scones

These scones were absolutely fabulous- very tender and flaky. Half of the butter is fully incorporated into the dough, making them tender, and the remaining butter is kept intact and only dusted with flour, as in a traditional scone, resulting in flakiness. I loved that they were sweetened with maple syrup and incorporated whole wheat flour.

This recipe was adapted from Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery + Café in Boston, via The New York Times, contributed by Dorie Greenspan. I drizzled the glaze and modified the size and baking time. Amazing.

Yield: 18 scones

  • 1 ⅔ cups/240 grams whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup/130 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup/170 grams unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • ½ cup/120 grams crème fraîche, Greek yogurt or sour cream, at room temperature
  • ½ cup/120 milliliters pure maple syrup
  • 5 tablespoons/⅓ cup/80 milliliters buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup/125 grams fresh blueberries

For the Maple Glaze:

  • ½ cup/60 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons maple syrup
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, briefly mix both flours, the baking powder, baking soda and salt on low speed.
  2. Add half the butter and paddle until fully mixed into the flour, 2 to 3 minutes. (This will coat the flour with butter so the scones are tender.)
  3. Add the remaining butter to the bowl of the stand mixer. Pulse the mixer three or four times to mix the pieces into the dough while keeping them whole. (This step will give you small pieces of butter in the dough, which will help the scones be a bit flaky.)
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, maple syrup, buttermilk and yolk until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Stir in the blueberries.
  6. With the mixer on low, pour the blueberry mixture into the flour mixture, and paddle on low for about 10 seconds to get some of the liquid mixed into the flour.
  7. Stop the mixer, and mix the rest of the loose flour into the dough by hand: Gather and lift the dough with your hands and turn it over in the bowl several times until all the loose flour is mixed in.
  8. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 1 day. (This gives the flour time to fully absorb the liquid.)
  9. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and position a rack in the center. Line three rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  10. Using a 3 tablespoon ice cream scoop, scoop out 18 mounds of chilled dough, and place them on the prepared baking sheets a few inches apart. (I placed 6 per sheet.)
  11. Bake scones for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet midway through the baking time, until the scones are evenly golden brown and firm when you press them.
  12. While the scones are baking, make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and enough maple syrup to make a drizzle-able glaze. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Rewhisk before using.
  13. Remove the scones from the oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before drizzling with glaze.
  14. Using a spoon, drizzle with maple glaze. Serve.

Blueberry Sourdough Muffins

I am going to share a couple more breakfast recipes that use sourdough starter. I was in LOVE with these muffins! They are sweetened with pure maple syrup, are loaded with blueberries, and incorporate cornmeal. Delicious.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour, and added vanilla extract. Wholesome and tasty!

Yield: 12 muffins

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease the wells of a 12-cup muffin pan, or line with papers and grease the inside of the papers. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  4. In a second bowl, beat together the starter, milk, egg, melted butter, sweetener, and vanilla.
  5. Blend the wet ingredients with the dry, taking about 20 seconds.
  6. Gently stir in the blueberries just until blended.
  7. Fill the cups of the prepared pan two-thirds full; sprinkle the tops of the muffins with sugar.
  8. Bake the muffins for 17 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan. Don’t let them cool in the pan, or they’ll steam and the outside will become tough.

Note: If using frozen berries, don’t thaw them before adding to the batter; you’ll have fewer blue streaks if they’re added frozen, just before scooping.

Maple Browned Butter Pumpkin Pie

I broke my tradition of serving a Pumpkin Chiffon Pie on Thanksgiving Day to try this pie instead. The combination of maple and browned butter was delicious in a pumpkin pie. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Budget Bytes.com. I used the all-butter pie crust recipe from my gold standard Pumpkin Chiffon pie. Next time I would not make the pie in a deep dish pie pan as the original recipe suggests- I prefer the filling to puff out over the crust. Nice!

Yield: One 9-inch pie

For the All-Butter Pie Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until the size of peas, 5 to 10 seconds.
  3. Drizzle in the water and pulse until the crumbs are moistened; turn out onto a work surface.
  4. Gather into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (I refrigerated mine overnight.)
  5. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 13-inch round a scant 1/4 inch thick. (I lightly flour the dough and roll it out between sheets of plastic wrap.)
  6. Fit the dough into a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate and (trim the overhang to 3/4 inch). Fold the dough under itself and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate the pie shell for 10 minutes. (I often refrigerate the crust, covered with plastic wrap, overnight at this point.)

For the Pie:

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 15oz. can pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 All-Butter Pie Crust (recipe above)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF, preferably on convection.
  2. Cut the butter into four tablespoon-sized chunks, then add them to a small skillet. Heat the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter solids turn deep brown and develop a nutty aroma (it will first become foamy, then the solids will sink to the bottom and turn brown). Remove the butter from the heat immediately to prevent burning, and carefully pour it into a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt to the bowl with the brown butter. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the eggs and pumpkin purée to the bowl with the butter and spices. Whisk until smooth.
  5. Lastly, add the evaporated milk, and whisk until smooth again.
  6. Place the prepared pie crust on a baking sheet for easy transport in and out of the oven. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust. Transfer the filled crust to the oven.
  7. Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425ºF, then turn the heat down to 350ºF and continue to bake for 35-40 minutes more, or until the pie is slightly domed on top, lightly browned around the edges, and the center is no longer liquid, but jiggles just slightly when you shake the baking sheet. If the crust begins to brown too much as it bakes, you can cover the crust with foil to stop the browning. (I covered the crust for the duration of the baking time.)
  8. Remove the pie from the oven and let cool at room temperature for about one hour.
  9. Once cool, cut and serve, or cover with foil or plastic and transfer to the refrigerator for storage, preferably overnight.

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