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Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese buttercream sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

High Altitude Pumpkin Cupcakes

Heather Smoke
Moist and fluffy pumpkin spice cupcakes, with sweet cream cheese buttercream, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet.

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 18 mins
Total Time 38 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings12 cupcakes


  • Muffin Pan
  • Stand Mixer with Paddle Attachment



  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 7 ½ ounces (1/2 small can, or @1 cup) canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • ¼ cup light or dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup buttermilk or whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour, fluffed, spooned and leveled
  • ¾ tsp (scant) baking soda
  • ½ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • tsp ground nutmeg


  • 4 oz (1/2 brick) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp meringue powder
  • tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp milk or cream, only if needed
  • cinnamon-sugar and freshly grated nutmeg, for decorating



  • Preheat the oven to 350, position a rack in the center of the oven, and line a standard sized muffin pan with 12 paper liners.
    TIP: Pumpkin cupcakes are a little sticky, and you may want to lightly spray the paper liners with non-stick baking spray.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to cook the butter, swirling the pan occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes, until the water has evaporated, and the butter is forming nutty, fragrant golden brown solids at the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and let the butter cool for 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla. Whisk in the browned butter.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and whisk for about 30 seconds until smooth.
  • Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to portion the batter into the pans, filling them about 2/3 - 3/4 full.
  • Bake the cupcakes for about 18 minutes, until the tops spring back when lightly touched, and a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Set the pan on a wire cooling rack, and cool for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan, and set on the cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.


  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter for one minute.
  • With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar, meringue powder, salt and vanilla. Increase speed to medium, and whip for 3-4 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy.
    TIP: Only add the milk or cream if needed for desired consistency, but you don't want to add much liquid to cream cheese buttercream, or it will become too soft to hold its shape when piped onto cupcakes. In warmer weather, you probably don't need to add any milk.
  • Fit a piping bag with tip 1M, and fill with the buttercream. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes, and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar and freshly grated nutmeg.


Cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Bring to room temperature for serving.
Keyword Cream Cheese Frosting, Cupcakes, High Altitude, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Spice
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