Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes
For the pumpkin pies you’ll need:
1 batch of your favorite pie crust dough (Don’t have a favorite? Use pre-made refrigerated dough, it will work well too.) 1 15 oz. can pumpkin pie filling, prepared according to the can’s directions (or you can make your pie filling from scratch, you overachiever, you—either way, you’ll need enough for one pie).
For the cupcakes you’ll need:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar 3 eggs 2 t. vanilla 2 t. baking powder 1/2 t. baking soda 1/2 t. salt 1 1/3 c. whole milk 2 1/2 c. flour
For the buttercream you’ll need:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature 2 c. powdered sugar 1 c. Hershey’s cinnamon chips (or any cinnamon chips you like) splash of whole milk
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees (F). First, prepare the pumpkin pies. Mix up the pumpkin pie mix according to the can’s directions (or make your own-fancy!). Roll out the pie crust dough and cut it into small circles that are large enough to cover the bottom and sides of mini cupcake tins (I used the opening of a small juice glass as a cutter). Press the dough into the lightly greased mini cupcake tins, and then fill them with the pumpkin pie mix. (Don’t go all the way to the top, the filling will expand a little while baking.) Bake the pies for about 7 minutes at 425 degrees (F), and then turn the oven down to 350 degrees (F) and bake them for another 10 minutes or so, until the crust is brown and the filling is completely set. After taking them out of the oven, cool them on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then take them out of the pan and allow them to cool further while you mix up the batter. For the cupcake batter, combine the butter and the cream cheese together on medium speed for about 90 seconds—you want the ingredients to be well incorporated. Then mix in the sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Then mix in the milk and the flour, alternating between the two ingredients. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, to make sure everything is getting well-mixed—beat again on med-high speed for about a minute. It should be smooth and creamy. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of batter into regular-sized, paper-lined cupcake tins. Plop a cooled pumpkin pie into the center, and press gently into the batter. GENTLY. You don’t want it to touch to the bottom of the pan. Cover the pies with another heaping tablespoon of batter, so the top and sides are completely covered. Bake at 350 degrees (F) for about 25 minutes, until the cake is set and the edges and tops of the cupcakes have turned golden brown. Allow them to cool in the cupcake tray for atleast 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack—they’ll be a little fragile at first. Once the cakes are cool, frost ‘em! To make the buttercream, melt down the cinnamon chips with a splash of whole milk. Pop ‘em in the microwave for about 45 seconds on high. Stir until all the chips are melted, and allow it to cool a bit while you whip up the rest of the frosting (you can put the bowl in the fridge, it’ll cool faster that way, and the milk will keep it from solidifying). Cream together the butter and cream cheese until they’re well incorporated. Then whip in the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low, drizzle in the cooled cinnamon chip “ganache” (if it’s too hot it’ll melt the buttercream and ruin it—you don’t want that). Put in about half, then stop to taste it and decide if you’d like to add more. Some like it strong, others like it milder. If you have any pie crust left over, roll it out and cut smaller discs and sprinkle them with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar. Bake ‘em for about 10 minutes at 350 and look at that, a cute and tasty cupcake topper! You can also try candied pecans or a drizzle of caramel on top. Tasty!