As with the pumpkin pie–filled cupcakes, don’t assume these cupcakes are only a fall treat because pumpkin is one of the main ingredients—they’re just as delicious every other season of the year.
Makes 24 cupcakes
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups pumpkin purée (canned is fine)
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1⅓ cups whole milk
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup Nutella
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk, if needed
Toasted hazelnuts, chopped, for garnish (optional)
1. To make the cheesecake, preheat the oven to 325°F and grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or use a nonstick pan). Put the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and salt in a small bowl and mix in the melted butter until the crumbs are moist. Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan and set aside. To make the cheesecake batter, use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer on medium speed to whip the cream cheese for 30 seconds, until creamy and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in each egg completely before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and whip on medium-high speed for another 15 seconds to ensure the batter is mixed evenly. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix for another 20 seconds, or until the mixture is completely smooth. Pour the mixture over the graham cracker crust and use a spatula to spread it out evenly over the crust. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the cheesecake has started to brown on the edges and no longer jiggles when you gently shake the pan. Cool the cheesecake completely in the pan (it’s okay to stick it in the refrigerator to speed up the process—I’m impatient too) and then cut it into 24 bite-sized pieces.
2. To make the cupcakes, increase the oven temperature to 350°F and line 2 standard muffin tins with 24 paper liners. Use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer on medium speed to combine the butter and sugar speed for 90 seconds, until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in each egg completely before adding the next. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then, with the mixer on medium-low speed, add the vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and mix for another 30 seconds, until all the ingredients are well combined. Then add the pumpkin purée, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice and mix for another 20 seconds or so, until just combined. Finally, add the flour, ½ cup at a time, alternately with the milk, ⅓ cup at a time, mixing until each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and continue to mix the batter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds, until smooth and creamy.
3. Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of batter into the prepared cupcake tins. Place a piece of cheesecake in the center of each tin and gently press it into the batter. Spoon a small amount of batter over the top of the cheesecake so the top and the sides are covered and the tins are about three-quarters full. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until the edges of the cupcakes have started to turn golden brown and the cake springs back when you gently press your finger into the top of it. Allow the cupcakes to rest in the tins for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
4. To make the frosting, whip the butter and Nutella for about 30 seconds with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer on medium speed. Add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time, whipping on medium-high speed until fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add the milk and whip on high for 20 seconds until the frosting is fluffy. Pipe or spread the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes and, if you’d like, sprinkle with some chopped hazelnuts.
This recipe appears in my cookbook Bake it in a Cupcake: 50 Treats With a Surprise Inside. It’s out now on Andrews McMeel Publishing and available at your favorite local bookstore as well as Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.org!