chocolate pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes

posted in: baking, recipes | 4

Fall is quite possibly my favorite season. We have cider and pumpkins, candy and costumes, birthdays and cake [mine!], turkey and pie, big meals and warm homes. And for me, Halloween feels like the starting point of the fun. October 31st to January 1st passes in a blink of an eye, so why not start off the end of your year having a blast?

Around my office, we’re big Halloween fans too. Between my love of creating something new, the joy of feeding lots of people and such a fun celebration in general, my mind was set on creating a fun cupcake for Halloween. Something that could be brought in for tomorrow’s Halloween party and fit right in. Something a little bit cute, a little fun but definitely delicious. Instead of going down the food coloring rabbit hole known as the candy corn cupcake, those brown, orange and white indian corn kernels pushed my buttons. How yummy would a layered cupcake be, with rich chocolate base and barely spiced, moist pumpkin, topped with cream cheese frosting full of vanilla bean.

While their similarities to the candy may not seem obvious, these cupcakes are so delectable. The chocolate base is a rich, dense cake – not actually something I would make for a full chocolate cupcake. But a fine base for the amazingly moist pumpkin cake that has a touch of spice. The frosting is so perfectly creamy, really full of vanilla flavor with a little bit of lemon juice to make the cream cheese pop and enough salt to bring out all the requisite flavors. No artificial colors needed for a scrumptious Halloween cupcake. Plus, pairing them with a jar full of totally artificial autumn mix candies? Somehow that’s a perfect juxtaposition for my October.

chocolate pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes
makes 10 cupcakes, enough frosting for at least a dozen cupcakes

for the chocolate cake

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/6 teaspoon baking bowder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons 2 teaspoons sour cream or yogurt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your pan with cupcake liners and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Add a third of the flour to the butter and egg mixture and mix on low until just combined. Add half of the sour cream and mix. Continue alternating flour, sour cream and flour until all combined.
  4. Spoon two tablespoons into each lined cupcake. Once you've portioned out all cupcakes, rap the pan lightly against your counter. Tap it a few times, helping the batter to spread across the bottom of each cupcake evenly.

for the pumpkin cake

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces pumpkin puree


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, five spice, ginger and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter until combined. Add the egg, pumpkin and vanilla and whisk thoroughly.
  3. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, whisking until combined.
  4. Spoon about three tablespoons into each chocolate-bottomed cupcake. Carefully spread the batter on top of the chocolate, covering completely. The cups should be filled about 2/3 of the way.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean. Let cool in the pan for five minutes, and then remove and place on a cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

for the vanilla bean cream cheese frosting

  • 8 oz (1 block) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
  • 1 splash lemon juice
  • 1 pinch kosher salt


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand electric mixer, mix the cream cheese and butter together on medium high with your paddle attachment. Mix for about five minutes, until the mixture gets light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly spoon in the powdered sugar, incorporating each addition fully before adding more sugar. Continue to let the frosting whip up until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Add the vanilla bean extract, lemon juice and salt and mix until combined. Taste! Let the frosting cool in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before frosting.

4 Responses

  1. these were goddamn glorious. could not have hit my life (or my tongue) at a more perfect time!!!! And i am NOT a sweets person!

  2. Ok. I love this on so many levels. But mostly I appreciate the hoc and pump combo. GREG

  3. Greg, thanks for your comment! Chocolate and pumpkin are so much better together than I expected.
    Also, I love Sippity Sup and The Table Set, so thanks for being a reader!

  4. mmmmmm. I really think I am going to print this one out for Thanksgiving. My husband is OBSESSED with cheesecake. Then you add chocolate AND pumpkin to that mix!!! AMAZING! great recipe

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