Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

It felt like autumn suddenly happened last weekend; the weather, the light, the leaves and that certain something in the air… This is one of my favourite times of year to be sure. I’m guessing pumpkins ripen around this time, which is why they became a fixture at Halloween, Thanksgiving tables and inside Starbucks spiced lattes. In spite of the pumpkin overload in most shops at this time, you actually don’t need fresh pumpkin to make these cupcakes – and in fact I would warn against it. Freshly steamed or boiled pumpkin has the potential to be too wet (unless you bake it) and already these cupcake have a minor leaking issue after a day or so. Clear liquid has leeched out of my cakes for some unknown reason, but it hasn’t affected the taste. These are super easy to whip up because of the cake mix, and the maple flavoured frosting could be applied to other equally delicious bakes like a carrot cake. I skipped browning the butter, so if you can’t be bothered, it’s not essential.

This recipe makes about 18 cupcakes or one cake. The colour is vibrant, and the flavour of the cakes isn’t too sweet at all, making the sweetness of the frosting extra welcome. If you can find a black or brown cupcake liner, these would make an excellent addition to your Halloween party spread.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

For the cake:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (cinamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice)

For the frosting:

1/2 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
4-6 tbs maple syrup

Oven 180C

Prepare liners for 18 cupcakes.
In your mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment combine the pumpkin, milk, oil, eggs and pumpkin pie spice. Once combined, add in the cake mix and turn on low for 30 seconds and then turn the mixer up to medium and continue mixing for 2 minutes.
Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, and bake for about 15 min, depending on your oven.
Let the cakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then allow to cool on a wire rack.

For the Frosting:
Optional – While the cake is baking place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. When the butter is melted and begins to boil begins swirling (or stirring) the pan to prevent the fat solids from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. Continue cooking the butter until it becomes a deep amber color. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes. Place the pan in the refrigerator so the butter chills and becomes solid again.
Put room-temperature butter in the bowl, with paddle attachment and ‘cream’ the butter until it becomes lighter in colour. Slowly add the icing sugar and maple syrup, with a dash of milk to loosen. Beat until all the ingredients are added, and the frosting is light and creamy. Use as much milk as you need to give it the thickness you desire.