These moist, flavourful, spiced pumpkin cupcakes topped with a generous amount of maple cream cheese frosting are perfect for any occasion!
Today is my birthday. This year I pass the quarter-century mark and join many others among the ranks of the mid-twenty-somethings. And while I’m ecstatic to leave behind the days of endless studying, often tedious lectures, all-nighters, drunken stumbling down the halls, and worrying about whether I’d brushed my teeth that morning, I don’t know if I’m quite prepared to enter “career world.” You see, I’m still not sure what I want to do in that regard.
Yes, I do have a degree in English literature, and I’m proud of that. I’m proud of this accomplishment because I know that many people around the world will never have that opportunity or chance. I’m blessed to live in a country where it’s possible and considered normal for a woman to receive post-secondary education, and I will never take that for granted. However, because I chose to follow my passion instead of taking a road that would lead me to a career straight out of university, I – like many other literature students, I’m sure – feel as if I’m floundering.
Throughout my studies, I had a plan. I knew I loved books, and I knew that I wanted to work with books. I was also very good at grammar, punctuation, and writing, so I thought that becoming an editor for a publishing house was the right path for me. I took the courses I thought would lead me on the path to becoming an editor (or at least a proofreader), and I even managed to snag myself an internship with a small publishing firm in London. I was set. This was what I wanted to do. With every passing lecture I daydreamed through, with every espresso-induced paper I handed in, with every pound I gained, I was closer to making my dream a reality. When graduation rolled around, I was so excited. All those late-night meltdowns had been worth it because they had brought me here. I was clutching the most expensive piece of paper I’d ever bought, and it was this piece of paper that was going to earn me my place as an editor (okay, copy editor).
One month later, I jetted off to pursue my dreams in Australia. I had grand visions of setting up my first edition Tennysons in a little cubicle overlooking the streets and passing trams of Melbourne. I would make friends, sip delicious cappuccinos on my lunch break, and I would join a gym to shake off that freshman
fifteen thirty. The thing about universities, though, is that they neglect to teach you about the concept of rejection and dashed dreams. They refuse to allow you to believe that you’re going to fail. They tell you that piece of paper is worth the gold, sweat, tears, and blood you spilled to get it. They don’t tell you that despite the one hundred and seventy-six applications and resumes you send out, not one interview will come your way. They don’t tell you that a degree without a speciality or co-op attached to it means nothing. They don’t tell you that you’ll start questioning whether or not your dream is viable until eventually you give up on it.
I don’t want to say it’s all my university’s fault, because it’s not. I set high expectations for myself, I shot for the stars, and I tumbled back down to earth. My year away taught me a lot about myself, about what I need, and about what I want. During university I knew exactly what I wanted. I didn’t experience that questioning period many students go through when they’re nineteen or twenty and deciding their major. But guess what? I’m here now! Quarter life crisis, anyone?
So here I am, at twenty-five, deciding what I want my future to look like. It might be cliché, but I feel like I’m sitting in the middle of a clearing surrounded by so many untrodden paths I could take that it’s frightening. But you know what? It’s also very exciting. My life is no longer etched out in stone nor sitting waiting for me in a Melbourne office cubicle. Not having a plan is a hard concept for me to swallow – I’m the girl who plans dinner before I’ve eaten breakfast – but I’m growing used to it. At twenty-five my future is scary, wonderful, exciting, and bare, but it’s a journey I’m excited to embark on.
Because it’s such a momentous occasion, I thought I would bake some cupcakes to celebrate!
I call these Perfect Pumpkin Cupcakes, because I truly think they are. I’ve always wanted to create a simple recipe for pumpkin cupcakes that tasted incredible but didn’t contain any unnatural or refined ingredients. I’ve totally nailed it. These cupcakes are light, airy and delicately spiced with all the good fall spices. The best part about them is that they’re made from all-natural ingredients. You get your fat from organic coconut oil, your sweetness from raw cane sugar, and a good dose of veggies from the pumpkin puree. A generous swirl of maple syrup sweetened cream cheese frosting makes these the perfect autumn treat.
If you’re feeling a little lost, confused, happy, excited, scared, anxious, or you just want a really flippin’ good pumpkin cupcake, I suggest you make these right now! They’ll chase away any insecurities or doubts you may have, and they will make you feel like you have your life together.
Even if you don’t.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup raw cane sugar
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 250g (1 standard package) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 6 cups confectioner's sugar
- To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C) and line one and a half 12 cup muffin trays with cupcake liners.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the coconut oil and sugar for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until emulsified. Stir in the pumpkin purée and vanilla extract until fully combined. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on a low speed until all the flour has been incorporated. The batter will be quite thick. Fill the liners ⅔ full with the batter and bake for 20--24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the trays for 5 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, make the frosting. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the softened butter and cream cheese. Add the vanilla and maple syrup and stir to combine. Finally, add the confectioner's sugar, 1 cup at a time, on low speed until all the sugar has been incorporated. Frost the cupcakes using a piping bag fitted with a nozzle (I used the Wilton 2D), and top them with a mellowcreme candy pumpkin.
- The cupcakes will stay fresh refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.