Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

Cakes and Cupcakes, Dessert, Holiday Recipes, Thanksgiving Recipes | 55 comments

These Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes are one of those recipes where I really don’t know what to tell you about them. I had the thought to come up with some sort of pumpkin cupcake for Halloween and did a quick Google search for Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes and this is the recipe I found.

I finally got some cool frosting tips so I could properly decorate a cupcake after seeing Jamie’s video on different piping techniques. I picked out the Closed Star Giant Pastry Tip from Bake It Pretty because I love the big swirls that some people get on their cupcakes.

Pumpkin and Chocolate Cupcakes

The kids and I geared up for a project. They’re always a little over-enthusiastic about baking cupcakes. I don’t know what it is about them that sends them into fits of giddiness. For me, personally, I prefer cupcakes to layer cakes because I don’t have the patience to do a nice job (or if I’m being honest, even a decent job) at frosting all the layers without getting cake crumbs all over the thing, breaking one of the layers, or making the entire thing lopsided. Cupcakes are just easier for me, especially now that I know how to properly frost one. It really is all in the tip.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Citrus Pumpkin Frosting

These Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes are perfect for Halloween with the dark chocolate cake and the orange frosting, but they’d make a really good alternative Thanksgiving dessert as well. I think my kids would much rather have a cupcake for Thanksgiving dessert than pie. I know Logan would for sure. All in all, this is a great fall cupcake. They don’t taste strong of pumpkin, but there are those great spices in the background and the pumpkin certainly gives the cakes a nice moistness. If you really wanted to get creative you could decorate the tops to look like pumpkins. I am most definitely not that patient.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Orange Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

adapted from Country Living
makes approximately 36 cupcakes

Print Save Recipe


For the cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups good-quality cocoa
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon fresh-grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
3/4 cups buttermilk
1 - 14.5 ounce can pumpkin purée
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (firmly packed) dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

For the frosting:
1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree (reserved from the cake recipe)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/8-1/4 teaspoons orange food coloring, optional


For the Cupcakes:

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line the pans with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Make the batter: Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom in a large bowl and set aside. Set 3 tablespoons of the pumpkin puree aside for the frosting. Combine the buttermilk, remaining pumpkin, and vanilla in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, with an electric mixer set on medium speed, until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and light. Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, blending well after each addition.

Divide the batter among the cupcake liners (about 1/4 cup batter per cupcake) and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean -- about 18-22 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan for 7 minutes. Remove cupcakes and cool.

For the Frosting:

Blend the cream cheese, butter, pumpkin puree, orange zest, and vanilla in a large bowl, using an electric mixer set at medium speed, until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy -- about 3 more minutes.

Add the food coloring and gently stir until the color is uniform. Chill the frosting until ready to ice the cupcakes. When cupcakes are cool, frost according to your preference. I used a Closed Star Giant Pastry Tip from Bake It Pretty in a disposable pastry bag.

Katie Goodman

About the Author:

Katie’s lifelong interest in cooking good food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. She is: Mom. Writer. Photographer. Recipe Developer. Website Founder. Lover of all things good in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week at GoodLife Eats™. Katie and her family reside in Colorado.

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  • 1
    Pili - October 18, 2010 @ 6:09 am

    Ok, this recipe sounds like something I really need and want to try!


  • 2
    Sues - October 18, 2010 @ 6:56 am

    Yum! The only thing better than pumpkin in the fall, is pumpkin WITH chocolate in the fall! :) These look awesome!


  • 3
    Maria - October 18, 2010 @ 7:20 am

    I can’t get enough pumpkin lately. Will have to try cupcakes next:)


  • 4
    Kay - October 18, 2010 @ 7:33 am

    This had me craving cupcakes for the past two hours. Beautiful shots!


  • 5
    Anita - October 18, 2010 @ 8:55 am

    Quick question: when ever I bake cupcakes the bottoms are always greasy. So, when I use cute cupcake holders the grease seeps through and they look kind of gross. What do you think I am doing wrong?


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — October 18th, 2010 @ 9:20 AM

      I’m not sure. I’ve never had that problem but I also don’t make cupcakes on a regular basis. Are you greasing in addition to using the liners? Because I wouldn’t do that. Sorry I’m not more help.

    • Liz@HoosierHomemade replied: — October 19th, 2010 @ 7:28 AM

      Hi Anita, I bake lots of cupcakes. What pan are you using? And do use a mix or scratch recipe? Either of those things might be the reason.

    • Anita replied: — October 19th, 2010 @ 8:18 AM

      Hi Liz. My cupcakes usually come from a mix. My pan is a chefmate, which I believe I picked up at Target.

      My conclusion is that it is either my pan or my very old stove.

    • eml replied: — November 7th, 2010 @ 7:36 PM

      It could just be the combination with the heat (obviously) from the oven and stuff…? (versus just grease maybe).


      Lovely blog! Seen you showcased on Jenna’s ELR!

  • 6
    Chicago Cuisine Critique - October 18, 2010 @ 10:58 am



  • 7
    bridget {bake at 350} - October 18, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

    Oh my!

    Beautiful pictures, too!


  • 8
    Nancy-The Sensitive Pantry - October 18, 2010 @ 12:18 pm

    So fall festive! I love the idea of cupcakes for Thanksgiving dessert and may have to borrow it for our holiday dinner. I bet there won’t be any leftovers.


  • 9
    Barbara | VinoLuciStyle - October 18, 2010 @ 2:27 pm

    Wonderful Halloween treat. I still make homemade goodies for the kids who come to my door that I know; this just might fit the bill this year.


  • 10
    Jamie | My Baking Addiction - October 18, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

    These are stunning and the perfect addition to any Halloween party spread! Thanks so much for linking back to my video! Definitely bookmarking these adorable treats!


  • 11
    Aimee @ Simple Bites - October 18, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

    How is it possible these are so gorgous and you made them with your kids?!?? =)

    We’re going strong on the pumpkin treats over here. Now I’m curious if the pumpkin Guinness gingerbread cake I made on the weekend would make good cupcakes. I’m inclined to think so…


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — October 18th, 2010 @ 4:44 PM

      Because I picked the prettiest ones for the photo. ;) They were definitely not all that good looking!

  • 12
    Jennifer - October 18, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

    These look delicious and I love the way your frosting turned out. That swirl, is super cool. Congrats on your picture being chosen by foodgawker as that’s how I discovered you. Your pictures were so beautiful!


  • 13
    Jennifer @ Maple n Cornbread - October 18, 2010 @ 8:22 pm

    Oh my these are so pretty!!! I love all the photos! The orange cream cheese pairs so well with chocolate and pumpkin! Great cupcakes!!


  • 14
    Chef Priyanka - October 18, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

    these are so festive and pretty! I’m def going to try them! Have you seen the babycakes machine? I’m going to make mini versions of these using that machine: http://chefpriyanka.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/best-invention-ever/
    you should check it out!


  • 15
    marla {family fresh cooking} - October 18, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

    Hi Katie! I do need to experiment more with cupcakes & piping. Made a HUGE cake this weekend & you are right, they are so much effort & a bit stressful. The combo of ingredients you have here are wonderful. My kids would dig ‘em too – then again who wouldn’t?? xo


  • 16
    marla {family fresh cooking} - October 18, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

    Hi Katie! I do need to experiment more with cupcakes & piping. Made a HUGE cake this weekend & you are right, they are so much effort & a bit stressful. The combo of ingredients you have here are wonderful. My kids would dig ‘em too – then again who wouldn’t?? xo


  • 17
    Sakura - October 18, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

    Beautiful and so yummy looking, a must try. :) It is fun cooking with the little ones.


  • 18
    Celia - October 19, 2010 @ 6:09 am

    Hi, Katie.

    I LOVE cupcakes (eating and baking). They are much more stress free to prepare than big cakes. I have a question for you that has to do with measuring. I live in Portugal and our recipes weigh (in grams) all the ingredients. I manage my way around American and English recipes with some measuring cups but I’m not really sure about the quantity of butter (how much do the sticks weigh?) and pumpkin purée (we don’t have it here; I usually bake pumpkin, mash it and freeze).

    Another thing: no buttermilk to be found as well. Can I substitute it with milk (or diluted milk)?

    Love food, love your blog.

    All the best,


    • Celia replied: — November 1st, 2010 @ 12:36 PM

      Hi Katie!

      I baked these cupcakes yesterday. They were amazing and there’s none left to be seen, smelled or eaten.

      Best wishes

  • 19
    Alison @ Ingredients Inc. - October 19, 2010 @ 7:24 am

    These look amazing and love your tips too. Great photos. You could give up your day job and just be a food photographer. I am not kidding


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — October 19th, 2010 @ 8:09 AM

      Well my “day job” is MOM, so I can’t really give that up, but I would love to do more photography work given the opportunity. Thanks :)

  • 20
    Estela @ Weekly Bite - October 19, 2010 @ 7:26 am

    These cupcakes are absolutely gorgeous!!

    Love the pumpkin orange cream cheese frosting :)


  • 21
    Liz@HoosierHomemade - October 19, 2010 @ 7:29 am

    These look amazing! I love the colors together, our High School colors are orange and black…these would be perfect!
    Thanks so much for sharing them on Cupcake Tuesday!


  • 22
    Noodle - October 19, 2010 @ 4:49 pm

    These were good but didn’t win against my coworker’s rocky road cookies in our office bake-off. Next time, I will add a few chocolate chips to the batter, as my cakes were a little dry the day after I made them.


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — October 19th, 2010 @ 5:07 PM

      Sorry to hear that. I didn’t have a problem with them coming out dry and we live in the desert. Maybe cook them a minute or two less to solve that problem.

    • Noodle replied: — October 19th, 2010 @ 5:39 PM

      point, thanks!

  • 23
    jamie cretive cupcakes - October 19, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

    I never made pumpkin frosting. MM. Its looks delicious. I have to try these.


  • 24
    Angela@spinachtiger - October 19, 2010 @ 8:09 pm

    Thanks for turning me onto the Bake it Pretty Site.
    Your cupcakes look delicious and pretty.


  • 25
    kitchen - October 21, 2010 @ 12:49 pm

    Those cupcakes look absolutely amazing! I will have to search my cabinets tonight and see if I have all the ingredients to make them tonight! Thank you for the recipe!


  • 26
    Chef Priyanka - October 26, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

    hi! I made your cupcakes over the weekend and they were delicious! i just blogged about it and linked it to your recipe! Please let me know if that’s ok :) http://chefpriyanka.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/mini-choco-pumpkin-cupcakes-whomemade-buttermilk/


  • 27
    Rose Plated - October 26, 2010 @ 9:48 pm

    I love this recipe! Thanks for sharing this one. My nephews loved this one. I made this recipe a couple of days ago and my nieces and nephews enjoyed it! Thanks a lot!


  • 28
    TT - November 02, 2010 @ 9:27 am

    hello..i have a question..how do you make pumpkin puree? :o thanks for any help!


    • TT replied: — November 2nd, 2010 @ 3:48 PM

      thank you very much :D

  • 29
    Melanie Big - November 07, 2010 @ 7:31 am

    Yummy! I love the colored icing! I should make this one this weekend for my friends. They will surely like this.


  • 30
    Krista - November 09, 2010 @ 12:03 pm

    Your cupcakes with pumpkin frosting look great!! I recently tried a pumpkin frosting recipe similar to yours but with 1/2 cup of pumpkin – which was definitely not thick enough to pipe onto cupcakes. From your pictures it looks like you were able to. Did this frosting hold its shape after you piped it on?


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — November 9th, 2010 @ 12:27 PM

      Krista – It helps to refrigerate the frosting for a bit before piping as I noted in the recipes (at least I think I did…). I stored the leftovers in the refrigerator since the frosting had cream cheese in it and I didn’t want it to spoil. Then we just let sit at room temperature for a few minutes before eating.

    • Krista replied: — November 9th, 2010 @ 12:44 PM

      Thanks for the quick reply! I refrigerated mine as well… but it still didn’t hold it’s shape. It could just be the difference between the 1/2 c. pumpkin I was using and the 3 Tbsp. you suggest. The recipe I used called for 3 cups of powdered sugar and I got up to 5 cups (still not thick enough) and decided that was almost too sweet to use. I’m going to try yours with less pumpkin! Thanks again, – Krista

      • Katie Goodman

        Katie replied: — November 9th, 2010 @ 12:54 PM

        It probably is a difference between the pumpkin amounts. 1/2 cup is 8 tablespoons, so that’s quite a bit more and the pumpkin is more liquid than say, butter. I do like you said and usually add extra sugar to the frosting to thicken it up but if the recipe has too much liquid in the first place you’re going to end up with the dilemma you had – too sweet frosting.

  • 31
    nicole - November 16, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    I can’t wait to try these for my son’s class this week. A quick ?- if you can answer please:
    I’m planning on leaving out the cardamom. Do you think it will make a drastic difference in taste? If I need to, what would you suggest for a substitute?
    Thanks in advance for your reply!


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — November 16th, 2010 @ 3:10 PM

      It won’t make a drastic difference. If you don’t already have it, just go ahead and leave it out. :) Enjoy!

  • 32
    Stephanie - December 09, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

    Its Stephanie- I just wanted to let you know that I ate sushi with some of my girlfriends and two of them had made these cupcakes and said they were DELISH! A bunch of my friends read your blog and jon and I spread the word all we can!


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — December 9th, 2010 @ 7:21 PM

      Hi Stephanie! It is so great to hear from you. Thank you so much – it is always nice to hear things like this and I definitely appreciate all you and Jon do to spread the word. You guys are the best. I hope we can see you soon. Do you have Christmas plans? We would love if you two came our way sometime. :)

  • 33
    Kari - December 31, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

    Fabulous recipe….I’ve made these a couple of times and shared the recipe with friends. Everyone raved about them. Definite keeper!


  • 34
    laurie - October 25, 2011 @ 9:48 am

    Are these standard or mini cupcakes?


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — October 25th, 2011 @ 11:25 AM


  • 35
    nicole - January 25, 2012 @ 11:52 am

    want to make half recipe…do you recommend 2 or 3 eggs?


  • 36
    Michelle - November 09, 2014 @ 1:16 pm

    I’ve made these several times over the last two years and they are amazing, my whole family loves them! I’m making them again right now for my dads birthday :)


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