Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

From 6 Bittersweets
Cake slightly adapted from Tartelette
Makes 12 to 14 cupcakes

XIAOLU'S NOTES: I always use canned pumpkin for my baking due to its smooth texture and consistent thickness. If you really want to use a homemade puree, I recommend you drain it using cheesecloth or a coffee filter to ensure that it doesn't add too much liquid to the batter. This frosting recipe makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes fairly generously. If you prefer a thin layer of frosting, feel free to scale the recipe down by 1/3 or even 1/2.

1 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 scant cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree [1/2 of a 15 oz. can]
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature

Pipeable and Not-too-sweet Cream Cheese Frosting (Recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the top of a standard 12-cup muffin pan (in case you get some “muffin top” action). Line pan with 12 baking liners. Sift the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk to combine pumpkin, milk, and vanilla; set aside also.

Using an electric mixer on medium-high, cream butter and sugar together until light in color and fluffy. Turn mixer down to low, and add egg and yolk. Beat well to combine. Next, add 1/3 the flour mixture, then 1/2 the pumpkin mixture, another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining pumpkin mixture, and the last 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing to combine after each addition. Fill baking liners about 3/4 full (I always use my large cookie scoop for this). If you've filled all 12 baking liners and still have more batter, you can fill standalone baking cups 1/2 full with batter. Bake 20 to 27 minutes OR until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (a few tiny crumbs are OK but there should be NO wet batter). Cool 3 minutes in pan, then remove from pans to wire racks to finish cooling completely. Pipe or spread on cream cheese frosting, and enjoy!

Pipeable and Not-too-sweet Cream Cheese Frosting
3/4 to 1 cup (1 1/2 to 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 to 3 cups (6.5 to 13.25 oz.) powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 oz. (1 block) cream cheese, cold and cut into 6 to 8 chunks

Sift powdered sugar into a small bowl. In a larger mixing bowl, cream the butter, salt, 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, and vanilla until thoroughly blended and fluffy. Add the cream cheese, a chunk at a time, beating after each addition (just enough to work it in until it’s smooth). Taste the frosting, adding and beating in more sugar as needed. Be careful to avoid overbeating or the cream cheese may start to break down and become gloppy. If not using immediately, chill until needed, then beat again until smooth just before using.