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Pumpkin, pumpkin, everywhere. I think every food blog has posted at least one pumpkin recipe by now. And who could blame them? People love their pumpkin. It has an odd power. How many of you have planned your day around a pumpkin coffee? Snatched up random children from the neighborhood to go pick pumpkins? Forgone a night on the town to be elbow deep in pumpkin gunk? I know, I know. I’ve been there too. It’s an addiction and an impossible one to kick. And bloggers like me are out there looking to exploit this love you have for all things fall and festive. So we post recipes—pumpkin soup, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin facial masks (seriously, I saw this)—and the pumpkin obsession perpetuates. In the oversaturated pumpkin blog post market, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate. I tip my hat to you, food bloggers, you’ve covered about every single use of pumpkin I could ever imagine…but somehow, just somehow, this idea has slipped through the cracks.

A fall twist on classic black bottom cupcakes, this pumpkin cake baked with a chocolate chip cheesecake and topped with a pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting is heaven in three bites [okay, fine, sometimes two bites]. They are good at room temperature, but serve them right out of the refrigerator and they’re on a completely different level. The pumpkin leaves the cake very moist and delicious. The tart creaminess of the cheesecake balances the sweetness of the cake and chocolate chips. And, oh my god, the pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting should be sold by the gallon.

If it’s your turn to bring the dessert for Thanksgiving dinner this year or you’re just craving a little piece of fall delight, give these cupcakes a shot. They come with a guarantee of gold stars and praise.

The Ingredients

2 ¼ cup flour
¾ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 ¼ cup canned pumpkin (I use Libbys Pumpkin)
2 eggs
¾ cup milk
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a combination of ground cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg)
8 oz cream cheese
1 egg
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup mini chocolate chips (I love Ghirardelli’s mini chocolate chips..great quality and taste)
½ cup butter
8oz cream cheese
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar

The Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Because we use baking soda in the cake batter, it is important to get the cakes in the oven very soon after the cake ingredients are mixed. For that reason, we want to start out by lining a pan for 24 cupcakes.
  2. We’ll start by making the cheesecake. Begin by beating cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Mix in egg, sugar, and salt and beat until again smooth and creamy.

  3. Fold the mini chocolate chips into the cheesecake batter and set in the refrigerator until needed.

  4. To begin the cake, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture until smooth. Add pumpkin and mix until combined. Don’t worry if it looks kind of lumpy and gross! I promise, it’ll smooth out once you add flour and milk.

  6. In a separate bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients one cup at a time, alternating with milk. You should begin and end with flour. Mix until just combined and smooth.

  7. Spoon 2 tbsp of cake batter into the bottom of the cupcake liners. Top with a heaping spoonful of cheesecake mixture. I like to put the cheesecake mixture just off to one side so you can see the pumpkin and cheesecake from the top.

  8. Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

  9. While the cupcakes are baking, begin the frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Mix in the pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Add confectioners sugar ½ cup at a time and continue to beat until smooth. Refrigerator frosting for 15-20 minutes for best results if piping.