Fall Cupcakes: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Caramel Filling and Pumpkin-Cream Cheese Frosting

You all remember the Fall Cake, right?

Inspired by my time spent working at a bakery… One layer of pumpkin cheesecake, another layer of gingerbread cake, caramel pecans in between and on top, then covered in vanilla buttercream.

That was it a little too intense for me to make that often.  So if you’re looking for the perfect fall dessert, that isn’t super complicated but will likely impress people, this is it.

Okay so it requires a lot of steps, but I promise it’s not that complicated and super delicious in the end.

Fall Cupcakes

for Gingerbread Cupcakes (adapted from Food Network’s Gingerbread cake)

1 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1/4-1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (plus more for garnish)
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup boiling water

For Caramel Filling:

1 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

For Pumpkin-Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tbsp butter, softened
4 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 lb powdered sugar (note you might need more depending on how sweet you like it)
dash of cinnamon
dash of ground ginger (or just use pumpkin pie spice)

Start my making the cupcakes.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine the sugar, oil, molasses and eggs in a large bowl.  Stir in crystallized ginger.  Add dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices), mix until almost combined.  Stir in boiling water.  Pour into cupcake pan lined with baking cups.  Fill only a little past half way.  This is sort of crucial.  If you over fill the pan, you get this:

Sad sunken in cupcake.  Not cute.

So fill them a little more than half way and bake them for about 15 minutes (mine took 14 mins) or until they pass the toothpick test.

Next make your caramel filling.  Heat sugar in a deep saucepan, until the sugar melts.  Once the sugar is a deep golden brown, take it off the heat and quickly stir in butter.  Once the butter is melted in there, add a pinch of salt and stream in the cream as you stir.  Keep stirring until smooth.  Set aside to cool.

At this point, your cupcakes and caramel need to cool completely.  In the meantime, go for a walk, rake some leaves (this really doesn’t apply to you if, like me, live in California…), call a friend, paint your nails, go to the gym, listen to Beyonce and dance a little bit, you get the idea…

Then come back and make the pumpkin-cream cheese icing.  It’s super easy, all you need is a hand or stand mixer.  Throw all the ingredients together and let the machine do the work.  Truth be told this frosting is delicious but not super stiff (that’s what she said).  You can add more powdered sugar if you’d like but I can only take so much sugar, it definitely hardens in the fridge but your piping might not be as beautiful as you’d like.  Oh well, it’s delicious.  Stick it in the fridge while you prep your cupcakes.

Now you can assemble!  Filling a cupcake with caramel is easy.  There are two ways to do it, but both ways involve putting your cooled caramel in a ziploc bag and cutting off the corner to create a make-shift piping bag.  Then you can either:

1. Take a knife and hole in the top and scoop some of the cupcake out.  Then take the “piping bag” and pipe some caramel into it.

2. Shove your finger into the top of each cupcake while they’re still warm.  Same effect.  It creates a hole.  I sorta like this method… some people might have an issue with it.  Obviously, please wash your hands before doing this 🙂 Then pipe in the caramel.

Once you’ve filled all your cupcakes with caramel.

Frost them as you’d like, either with a piping bag and tip or just a knife.  Both look lovely.  Either way garnish with some slices of crystallized ginger.

I swear these taste better the next day.  I don’t know what it is, but true story.  Would I lie to you?  Either way, we’re well into October and speeding into November.

That probably means you should give these cupcakes a try.

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