A Pumpkin Surprise

Who is ready for a party?

I have never made pumpkin cupcakes but thoroughly enjoy them when they are released.  Obviously.  It’s cake.  And it’s pumpkin.  So it’s awesome.  I made these little babies for a party I was going to and wanted to make them a little extra special.  I think I am on to something here.  Seriously, people.  You might as well just call me The Boozy Baker because that is what I do.  Bourbon is pretty great in a plethora of goodies, and especially sweet things.  I started this obsession with whiskey brownies and now I can’t stop.  I need an intervention.  Except no.  No I do not.

I think being such a big person (I am 5’11” and have the longest legs) I am obsessed with all things mini.  I love babies,  baby animals, and my boyfriend is mini (not a midget, as my favorite 10-year-old likes to state).  But my favorite mini?  Cupcakes.  Sorry, Steve.  But mini cupcakes are the greatest.  I think they make the whole cupcake craze so much better.  Those girls that like to split a cupcake?  Who are they?  It’s 4-5 bites.  Or 2-3 Sarah Bites.  But if it really is SO horrible to eat a whole cupcake, that’s where these minis come in.

My little minis

And these cupcakes.  I don’t even know where to begin.  You got pumpkin cake.  Pretty great.  And cardamom cream cheese frosting.  Always awesome.  Oh, did I mention there is some ganache thrown in there too?  Yep.  There definitely is.  Not just any ganache.  Nutella ganche.  Whoops.  I mean Nutella Bourbon Ganache.  It’s a little fall-themed flavor bomb in your mouth.  And it is every kind of explosion I will ever want.

Pumpkin explosion.  Let me at it.

I really love working with ganache because it is really easy to make and makes cupcake


presentation super simple.  Without struggling with the piping bag (yes, I still fight that process) and just dipping a little cupcake into a bowl of ganache, you have a pretty little cupcake.  A little dot of cream cheese frosting ensures you still get the flavor explosion that is key to pumpkin cupcake heaven.  This is a long process, but so worth it.  And you can cut your time in half by multitasking.  While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting and ganache.  It is really important to make sure your cupcakes are completely cool before adding any ganache or frosting because they won’t properly set if they are still warm.  And who wants a gooey cupcake?  Wait.  There might be some use for that. . .

Ganache is your friend

I made these cupcakes for a Halloween party at my old roommates house, because it’s just what I do.  I never know how much to make because I never know how many people will show up to these things.  I used to live in an amazing house in Logan Circle, in the heart of Washington DC.  6 girls and 1 Steve makes for fun times and always people to be my taste testers.  It’s even better when drunk strangers tell me they are leaving their girlfriends for my cupcakes.  I do not advocate home-wrecking  but love for my recipes?  Always appreciated.  The 3 people who told me Georgetown Cupcakes are crap and mine are amazing makes for the best day of my life.  If anyone wants to buy me a little corner store and let me sell cupcakes, cookie, and fudge all day forever I will definitely take you up on that.  Until then I will settle for baking all these surprises in my little kitchen.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
*adapted from Southern Food
*makes 24 normal sized cupcakes, or 15 normal and 20 minis


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sift before measuring
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten until frothy
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs.
  • Blend in mashed pumpkin.
  • Stir in the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, blending until batter is smooth after each addition;
  • Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin pan cups (the more festive the lining, the better!).
  • Fill about 2/3 full.
  • Bake at 375° for 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Allow to fully cool before frosting.

Nutella Bourbon Ganache

  • 3/4 cup of Nutella Hazelnut Spread
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon


  • Measure Nutella to a heat-proof bowl
  • Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate.
  • Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth.
  • Add the butter and bourbon and stir until combined.
  • Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped into cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting
*adapted from Martha Stewart
*makes enough frosting for 18-20 cupcakes


  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • about 1 teaspoon of cardamom


  • Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth and fluffy.
  • Reduce speed to low; gradually add sugar, and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, cardamom, and mix to combine.

Cupcake Assembly

  • using a piping tip (any size) cut hole in middle of the large cupcake, about 3/4 inch down, remove excess cake from hole
  • using ganache filling, pipe into cupcake hole
  • pipe cream cheese frosting onto cupcake, using any design you wish (I used the round, circle tip for this)
  • for mini cupcakes, dip top into ganache and swirl to cover.
  • using cream cheese frosting, place one dot from bag onto top (I used a star tip for this)

The whole cupcake family


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