First Pumpkin Recipe of the Season! Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

Double Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

I picked up the latest copy of Country Living magazine when I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store. I was starving and fell for the photo of the halloween-themed chocolate cake on the front cover. The magazine promised that it was “Scrumptious!” and “Sooooo moist!” And how could I resist the cute orange frosting and dark chocolate glaze. The truth is that I am very easily swayed by advertising when I’m hungry.

After I got home and ate lunch, I really wasn’t that interested in the magazine anymore. In fact, I kind of forgot about it for a day or two. When I finally got around to thumbing through it, I realized the cake recipe was for a Chocolate Pumpkin Cake. “Mmmmmm,” I thought. “Possibly even better than just plain chocolate!” I’ve never combined chocolate and pumpkin before and I was instantly intrigued.

The problem was that I could feel the pounds piling on just by reading the recipe! A stick and a half of butter…two cups of sugar…4 eggs…and frosting made with both cream cheese and whipped cream. Wow! Normally I don’t worry too much about trying to lighten up desserts. Desserts are desserts and they’re supposed to be fattening. But I’ve been baking a lot lately and we’ve been eating way too much sugar. I think my body is at it’s limit because the amount of butter and sugar in that recipe was just not appealing to me.

So, I lightened it up. With the canned pumpkin in the recipe, I knew I could reduce the butter and still end up with a moist cake. I substitute fruit and vegetable purees for fat in my muffins all the time and it works great. So my first recipe ‘fix’ was to increase the pumpkin and decrease the butter.

I decided that the sugar could also be reduced since the frosting would be so sweet. I wasn’t really sure how much to reduce it so I went big and reduced it by half.

The other change I made was to substitute yogurt for buttermilk. I only did this because I happened to have a bunch of plain yogurt in the fridge and no buttermilk. Since I don’t think yogurt is quite as acidic as buttermilk (maybe I’m wrong, I never bothered to look it up), I threw in a teaspoon of white vinegar so that the baking soda in the recipe would have something to work with.

After scratching and scribbling for a while, I finally came up with a recipe that seemed like it would work. When I tried it, I baked a 9″x13″ sheet cake. It tasted good and was moist and tender, but I felt like I had cut the sugar a bit too much. The recipe has so much cocoa powder that my sugar reduction left the cake just a bit bitter. My husband actually liked it a lot, but I knew I wanted add more sugar next time.

The other thought I had when I tasted the first version was that it would be great with some chocolate chips in it! So much for reducing calories!

I also decided I wanted to try it in cupcake form the second time around. By adding a bit more sugar back in the recipe, along with some mini chocolate chips, I ended up with some really great cupcakes that may or may not be lighter than the original recipe.

Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

And then came the frosting!

I did not use the frosting recipe from the magazine. I like my cream cheese frosting to taste like cream cheese so I didn’t think it needed to have all that whipped cream folded in. I used a fairly standard cream cheese frosting recipe but added cinnamon and nutmeg as was suggested by javagirlkt. The frosting turned out great and really complimented the chocolate pumpkin cupcakes!

The thing about mixing chocolate with fruit (or vegetable purees) is that the chocolate really covers up all other flavors. If you don’t believe me, try my Double Dark Chocolate Beet Muffins! These chocolate pumpkin cupcakes taste like a chocolate cake but there’s just a little something extra. The spices in the frosting seem to bring out the pumpkin flavor even though the cake itself isn’t spiced. It’s a little hard to explain but trust me, it works!

I did end up reducing the butter by 1/3 and the sugar by 1/4. If you leave out the chocolate chips and go light on frosting, these are definitely much better for you than the original cake. But I have to say that the chocolate chips are great and it is hard to go light on the cream cheese frosting! Oh well, I tried!

The candy corns on top are optional, of course! They just happen to be my favorite fall candy and I thought they looked really cute on these cupcakes! Turns out they make caramel candy corns now…I think I’m in heaven!

  • Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 C. cake flour
  • 2/3 C. cocoa powder
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 C. plain lowfat yogurt
  • 1 3/4 C. canned pumpkin (15 oz. can)
  • 1 t. white vinegar
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C. lightly-packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners.
  • 2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt together; set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together the yogurt, pumpkin, vinegar, and vanilla extract, set aside.
  • 3. In a large mixing bowl, and using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Alternately beat in the flour and pumpkin mixtures in thirds (for example, beat in 1/3 flour mixture followed by 1/3 pumpkin mixture and repeat until everything is combined). Fold in the mini chocolate chips.
  • 4. Working quickly, spoon batter into cupcake cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Place cupcake pans in the center of the preheated 350 degree oven and bake approximately 25 minutes. Cupcakes are done when they spring back when lightly touched or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool pans on wire racks for 10 minutes then remove cupcakes from pans and let cool completely on the wire racks.
  • 5. While cupcakes are cooling, prepare cream cheese frosting (recipe follows). When cupcakes are completely cool, spread with frosting.
  • Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 C. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 C. powdered sugar
  • 1/4. t. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. fresh ground nutmeg
  • In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. If frosting is too soft, chill in fridge for 15-20 minutes.

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  3. Charity

    I love chocolate, and I love pumpkin… so this recipe looked like a slice of heaven to me! I tried them out last week and they were a hit! I brought them to a work baby shower and I had one lady come up and hug me she loved them so much! I’ve never had that happen before 🙂 I saved a couple for my boyfriend’s parents – who I was meeting for the first time – and I am pretty sure that was the icing on the cake (pun intended) for winning them over! I want to try this again and do it as a loaf – any thoughts on how long it should cook for?

    More pumpkin recipes please!

    @Allie – would love to know how much pumpkin is used for the box chocolate cake… that sounds great!

    12:13 pm  Nov 14th, 2009
  4. SippitySup

    I just came across this because I was searching for chocolate pumpkin recipes. Some how I missed it back in Oct! Glad I found it now. Thanks for the inspiration. You be happy to know this recipe come up first in google when I typed chocolate pumpkin recipe GREG

    9:51 am  Nov 21st, 2009
  5. Germaine

    I’m going to make this cake for my granny’s birthday!
    May I use mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese for the frosting? What adjustments should I make or do I simply replace one for the other?

    7:20 am  Nov 26th, 2009
  6. Sara

    I found your recipes when I was searching the internet for something sweet to make with half a pumpkin that wasn’t pumpkin pie! I grew my own pumpkins last year and I was using up the last one to make soup, but it was enormous so I only used half of it. I’d already chopped the whole thing so I wanted something I could bake with the ingredients I already had in the house, so I decided to give this recipe a go. I live in England and we don’t use pumpkins very much at all, basically they’re in the shops for a couple of weeks around Halloween and that’s it, and it’s pretty much impossible to buy canned pumpkin puree here, so I boiled the pumpkin and then liquidised it to make the puree, and I had to make a few other substitutions for things I didn’t have – I used creme fraiche instead of yogurt, dark brown sugar instead of light, and cake flour doesn’t exist here so I just used plain white flour. I also left them in the oven for about 10 minutes extra. The cupcakes rose beautifully in the oven but then sank in the middle when I took them out, and when we ate them (still warm – we couldn’t wait!) we discovered that they were quite gooey in the middle – no bad thing, just unexpected! I’m looking forward to seeing what they’re like when they’re cold and have frosting on them. Thanks for the recipe!

    12:01 am  Feb 28th, 2010
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    It isn’t often that you see a recipe that has both chocolate & pumpkin. It looks delicious & I cannot wait to try it. Thanks for the recipe!

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    thanks for tinkering with this recipe so i don’t have to!

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  15. Sam

    I made these for Thanksgiving instead of a pie when my hubby and I visited my folks for Thanksgiving part 2. When these came out of the oven we were playing card and pretty heavy into the sweet wines and by then end of the night only two cupcakes were left… there were only 5 of us. Needless to say they were a big hit! I used fresh pumpkin instead of canned, buttermilk, skipped the chocolate chips, and didn’t have cake flour…. So I ended up having to do several substitutions, even so these were amazing. Chocolate and pumpkin and cinnamon… all the things I love, now together.

    2:01 pm  Nov 30th, 2012
  16. Jeniece

    These cupcakes were way better than I had expected. No offense at all, I just wasn’t sure how the pumpkin would turn out with the chocolate and the cocoa powder. I made them for bible study tonight and they were a hit. Very moist and just the right amount of chocolate without being overly sweet.
    Loved the cinnamon and nutmeg addition to the frosting-it certainly gave it a little something extra. I gave these a 10/10 (and I don’t hand out those ratings easily!)

    10:34 pm  Jan 17th, 2013
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