Make Ahead

Boozy Belly Pumpkin Cupcakes

November 10, 2010
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes
Author Notes

This recipe started out innocently enough: Find a way to re-create a black-bottomed cupcake but with fall flavors. So I started with pumpkin, loaded it up with cinnamon and nutmeg, and figured the minced ginger would replace the chocolate chips. But as I tasted the cream cheese filling, I longed for a little something extra. Enter the dark rum, which adds a little kick but not a full-on wallop. Leave it out if you want to make it kid-friendly, and substitute in half a teaspoon of vanilla extract. —vvvanessa

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Vvvanessa is a fearless cook with recipes that range from braised pig face to boozy desserts.
WHAT: Fall-inspired cupcakes for grown-ups.
HOW: Make a buttermilk cupcake base with pumpkin purée, nutmeg, and all good things that remind us of fall. Top with a dollop of dark rum- and candied ginger-spiked cream cheese frosting, then bake until done and the frosting melts like something out of your cupcake dreams.
WHY WE LOVE IT: All of our favorite fall flavors without the cloying sweetness of a pumpkin pie or sugar-packed cupcake. The dark rum and candied ginger adds just enough of a kick, but we'd be lying if we said these don't go down easier with some extra rum on the side. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the boozy cream cheese filling:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup finely minced candied ginger
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum (okay, okay: 2 tablespoons if you insist)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine table salt
  • For the pumpkin cupcake batter:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably one on the fruity side
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients of the cream cheese filling, mixing until it is light in texture and there are no cream cheese lumps. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two muffin tins (24 wells) with paper liners or grease well.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices, and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugars, olive oil, and eggs on medium-low for about 3 minutes or until the mixture becomes smooth and lightened in texture.
  5. Add in the pumpkin and vanilla and mix for a few seconds more to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Turn the mixer down to low. Add in half the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add in the buttermilk and mix for 10 seconds. Add in the rest of the flour and mix for 20 seconds more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full with cupcake batter. Drop a heaping teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture on top of each cupcake. Remove any unfilled cupcake liners and fill empty wells about one-third full with water so that the pan doesn't warp.
  8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans about 10 minutes into baking. They are done when the ridge between the cream cheese and the cupcake is just set and the cake (not the cream cheese) tests clean.
  9. Remove the tins from the oven (be extra careful if you filled any of the wells with water), and allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • amdame1
  • Jade B.
    Jade B.
  • blissriot
  • ChefJune
  • TheWimpyVegetarian

16 Reviews

amdame1 November 1, 2020
These are moist and flavorful; love the ginger!
I was glad I read the comments ahead of time about the cream cheese filling so I did not use a heaping teaspoon. However, I still found that this was plenty for my taste - and was also still enough to spill over from a few. =P
CMS October 24, 2019
I was afraid cupcakes might be bland, so I amped up the spices and flavor was better for us.

I would suggest filling cups 2/3 full with batter and dropping 1 1/2 T of the cream cheese mixture on top.

Substituting Calvados in the filling, if you have it, is great idea! The Myers Rum I used was not noticeable.

A drizzle of maple frosting would be even better!

Jade B. October 24, 2017
Brought these to a pumpkin carving party and they were a MAJOR hit. The cakes aren't super attractive looking, but the taste more than mades up for that. Not super boozy per say, but the dark rum and candied ginger ads beautifully complex flavors to the cream cheese! My one issue is that you NEED to double the cream cheese topping. It was the perfect amount only after doubling...and yes, took the recommended 2tbsp. of rum! :)
blissriot November 26, 2015
I was looking for the perfect pumpkin cake recipe to use for an occasion and used the cupcake recipe without the filling to make a layer cake. I added a maple syrup frosting and it made the most delicious cake ever! I'm making it for the second time now. The cupcake recipe comes out perfect with 2 9" pans, and the pure maple syrup in the frosting subbed as a kick instead of the rum.
Jessica B. October 13, 2017
Please could you share your maple syrup frosting recipe?
Jessica B. October 13, 2017
Sounds delicious!
eternalgradstudent October 24, 2015
The first pan of 12 are in the oven now, and they look and smell delicious. However, I'm not going to have enough of the cream cheese filling to make a second batch of 12.... There's plenty of pumpkin batter, but not enough cream cheese filling! Maybe I'm too generous with my heaping tablespoons, but when I make these again, I'll double the filling amount.
Jade B. October 21, 2017
Same happened to me... I would suggest doubling it for those trying this out.
ChefJune October 21, 2015
Looking forward to trying these. [And I'm not usually a fan of cupcakes!]
TheWimpyVegetarian November 16, 2010
Oh my gosh these sound great! And I love the idea of putting Sagegreens little pumpkin on top!
AppleAnnie November 10, 2010
I have a suggestion--garnish each cupcake with one of Sagegreen's marzipan pumpkins on top, then it will look as bewitching as I am sure it tastes!! (What about calvados as an alternate for the rum?)
vvvanessa November 10, 2010
i love that appleannie would suggest calvados. and yes, sagegreen's pumpkins are darling!
Midge November 10, 2010
Love these and what a great name.
vvvanessa November 10, 2010
Lizthechef November 10, 2010
Oh, these look addicting...Dark rum is a magical ingredient in baking, isn't it?
vvvanessa November 10, 2010
just don't give away the secret!