Let’s discuss the struggle.
The eternal Thanksgiving struggle.
You see, it’s real, it’s totally legit, and it’s deadly serious.
It typically manifests toward the end of the meal (when your shirt is covering the top of your jeans because you’ve just unbuttoned them), and you’re sitting there wondering, “Hmm…do I conclude this carbfest with a slice of pumpkin pie, or do I go with the pecan?”
Truly, it is one of life’s most difficult decisions…
If you, too, have faced this challenging predicament, then this cupcake recipe is for you. 😹 It’s a Frankenstein of fall flavors that combines the beautifully balanced spiciness of a perfect pumpkin pie, with the glorious greatness of brown sugar pecans — toasted first, then incorporated into the batter.
And as if that weren’t tantalizing enough, a cream cheese frosting tops it all off!
Also, as a full-time employee in the Crazy Cat Lady Department, I decorated mine with sprinkles and cute kitty fondant cutouts, but you could sub the cats for leaves or turkey shapes (that should also work).
In the cupcake world, there are two major categories of cupcake batter — oil-based and butter-based. Butter-based batters tend to be a little more complicated and finicky (mainly with regard to how far you’ve melted your butter) than oil-based batters. Basically, with oil-based batters, you just dump and mix! Also, oil makes it easy to end up with a melt-in-your mouth texture. No dry cake here! So, this recipe uses an oil-based batter.
You don’t need any special equipment either. Just a couple of mixing bowls and a whisk, and heck, if you don’t have a whisk, you can use a fork.
If you want to bake Thanksgiving cupcakes but don’t want something too complicated, this is the recipe for you.
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes With Brown Sugar Pecans
This melt-in-your mouth pumpkin cupcake has a subtle kick of spice for a festive addition to your Thanksgiving table! Studded with brown sugared pecans and finished with a cream cheese frosting.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours
- Yield: 12 cupcakes
For the brown sugar pecans:
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
Dry ingredients for the batter:
- 1 cup (125g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Wet ingredients for the batter:
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 cup (120ml) grapeseed oil (any neutral tasting oil, like canola or vegetable oil, works too)
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (150g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup (225g) canned pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar (you may need to add a 1/4 cup if you prefer a stiffer frosting)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
For the decorations:
- Fall-colored sprinkles (I got mine at Micahels)
- Orange or other fall-colored fondant (I bought premade fondant at Michaels)
- Cat shaped cookie cutter
1. Steps to prep
Preheat your oven to 350°F (176°C). Line 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners, and set aside. Roll out your orange fondant, and then cut out 12 cat shapes with your cookie cutter. Allow to air dry for at least 30 minutes, or take a blow dryer and dry them using the cool setting until they harden; set aside for later.
2. Toast the pecans
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Chop pecans into small pieces. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar and chopped pecans. Toss to coat. Spread the pecans evenly on the cookie sheet, and bake for about 7 minutes, or until they’re toasted. Set aside to cool.