Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes


Confession: I have been watching this YouTube video on repeat with tears streaming down my face. It’s a Crest commercial for Halloween treats gone wrong and it’s the reason why I love kids so much. They have nothing to hide and will tell you exactly how it is.


I’m sure the kids would enjoy these cupcakes much more than the vegetable treats in the video.

This recipe came from Panera‘s chefs and is inspired by their fall menu. Pumpkin and chocolate— what’s more Halloween than that?


Have you ever seen a more beautiful naked cupcake than this? They rose so high that I almost felt bad covering up the perfect dome. The higher the cupcake, the less frosting that you have to use. That makes it a little healthier, right?


I kept it simple and frosted the cupcakes with a ziploc bag. It was convenient since the frosting had to sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours prior to decorating.


Did I mention that this is pumpkin cheesecake frosting? Why didn’t I think of that?






These pictures don’t do the cupcakes justice. I wish you could reach through the screen and feel how moist the cake is. Alright I take that back… that sounds a little weird. There may be a bit of pumpkin in the cake batter, but you don’t really taste it. The dark cocoa that I used was more overpowering. The pumpkin flavor definitely comes through in the frosting, though.


I brought the cupcakes to work with me using a Chinet pan. Their pans always come in handy for me since I deliver baked goods a lot to my friends and coworkers. You can bring food with you anywhere (In my case, it was in the car, walking with luggage, through security, and on an airplane) and not have to worry about bringing the carrier back home.


I was able to celebrate fall and share the cupcakes with my crew. The first officer even said that it was one of the best cupcakes that she had ever tried! Who says you can’t have cupcakes for breakfast on an airplane?

I also used the pan to store the cupcakes in the refrigerator overnight and the pan kept it’s shape and didn’t sag. Sometimes, when you expose carriers to different temperatures, they begin to sag in the middle and lose its shape. This was not the case.


The lids latch on, so I didn’t have to worry about cupcakes flying out through the security line. It makes my life a whole lot easier when I’m not looking like a hot mess running through the airport.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 55 minutes

Yield: a dozen cupcakes

Serving Size: 12


16 g

Having a Halloween party? With real pumpkin in both the chocolate cake and the orange-colored cream cheese frosting, these lightened-up treats will steal the show.


  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 3½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Cupcakes:
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil


  1. For the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the inside of the bowl; then add the pumpkin, pumpkin-pie spice, and vanilla extract and beat until blended, 2 minutes more. Spoon the frosting into a pastry bag or zip-top bag, seal the bag, and refrigerate the frosting until it is cold, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days. Makes about 3½ cups.
  2. For the cupcakes, heat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake papers.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until sandy in texture, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, pumpkin-pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk and oil in three additions, beating on low speed after each addition.
  5. Fill the muffin cups with batter and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of one cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove them from the pan to cool completely on the rack.
  6. Attach a tip to the pastry bag or snip off a corner from the zip-top bag, and squeeze the frosting onto the cupcakes.


Recipe from

This is a sponsored post, but the opinions expressed are my own.




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