pumpkin brown butter cupcake

¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for tins

1⅔ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for tins

¼ cup fresh sage leaves, cut into chiffonade (optional)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ginger

¼ teaspoon cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

Brown-Butter Icing (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Brush standard muffin tins with butter; dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the sage, if desired, and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown. Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Ppour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind; let cool.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon,nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs and brown-butter mixture. Add flour mixture, and whisk until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

To finish, dip top of each cupcake in icing, then turn over quickly and let set. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are glazed; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

Brown Butter Icing

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk, plus more if needed

Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until nut brown in color, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour butter into a bowl, leaving any burned sediment behind.

Add confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk to brown butter; stir until smooth. If necessary, add more milk (up to 2 tablespoons) a little at a time, just until icing is spreadable. Use immediately.