Happy Autumnal Equinox, my friends! That’s right, today is the first official day of fall! Usually I face the change of the season kicking and screaming, refusing to let go of another summer. Most years you’ll catch me wearing flip flops, white skirts, and cut off shorts for a borderline inappropriate number of days past labor day. This year has been different though. I’ve been craving change in my life. I can’t explain exactly what I’m looking for, but I’ve been feeling a little complacent as of late, and have been embracing anything even remotely different that comes my way. So this year I’ve found myself welcoming autumn with open arms!
I’m already a few classes into the fall semester of grad school (I’m taking Financial Management this semester so don’t be surprised if you hear me complain a time or two). I’ve restocked my closet with new leggings, cozy flannels, and some super cute boots. The days have gotten shorter, so many times the sun is just beginning to rise as I leave for work, and my next marathon is literally just around the corner. As much as these things signal the change of the season, nothing says “fall is here” quite like Starbucks’ annual release of the pumpkin spice latte!! The warm, sweet, spicy, drink is a favorite with many, myself included! This year, after I had my first latte of the season, I just knew I had to take it one step further. The Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcake. Brilliant. And so began my mad scientist experimentation in the kitchen to find the perfect blend of coffee, spice, pumpkin, and cream. After a few trial runs, I really think I nailed it! The recipe is a blend of Annie’s Eats Vanilla Latte Cupcakes and my mom’s famous Amish Pumpkin Bread. I brought these little guys to work on Thursday and they had disappeared by lunch time. Seriously, you need to make these cupcakes this weekend. You will. not. regret. it. (and neither will your friends or family!)
-3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-2 cups flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-2 Tbs expresso powder
-1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (+ more for sprinkling)
-1 cup strong brewed coffee
-2/3 cup pumpkin puree
-1 cup heavy cream
-3 Tbs powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 20 cupcake tins with paper liners. Yes this recipe makes exactly 20 cupcakes. Not a dozen and a half. Not 2 dozen. I tried to stretch it into 24 cupcakes and failed miserably.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat one and a half sticks of butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to beat for another minute. Add the 2 eggs and mix until well combined.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, expresso powder, and pumpkin pie spice. Expresso powder can be difficult to find at a normal supermarket, so you will probably have to purchase it at a specialty food store. I found mine at William and Sonoma. It’s a little pricey, but totally worth it!
In a different bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree (2/3 a cup is about half of a 15 oz can) and brewed coffee until smooth.
Alternate mixing the dry and wet ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition, Once all of the ingredients have been added, mix everything together thoroughly, but just until combined.
Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake tins. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely. I can never resist and always eat one warm, but I’m going to be honest, I like them way better cooled! I think it gives a chance for all of the flavors to settle together.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, prepare the whipped cream topping. In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment, pour 1 cup of cold heavy cream and 3 Tbs of powdered sugar. Mix on low speed until the sugar has been incorporated into the cream, then crank the speed up to high and whip until very stiff peaks form. Load the whipped cream into a frosting bag fit with a large tip and pipe it on to each of the cupcakes. Typically when making whipped cream I use granulated sugar as opposed to powdered sugar. I find the powdered sugar to work better though, when you plan to pipe the whipped cream. It gives it a little more structure and helps the cream stand up like a very light buttercream. Once all of the cupcakes have been frosted, sprinkle each one with a little more pumpkin pie spice. I garnished each of my cakes with a signature Starbucks green straw since I was doing a spin off of their most popular fall drink.
A latte and a cupcake? Truly the world’s most beautiful combination!