These deliciously moist pumpkin spice latte cupcakes are bursting with autumn flavor! They feature all the classic flavors and ingredients you'd find in a PSL topped off with a pillowy whipped cream frosting.
I've never actually tried a pumpkin spice latte (which is shocking because I'm usually quick to jump on the hype of literally anything). But apparently it costs like $7, and I know I'll probably become obsessed with it, and my bank account just isn't looking for a serious relationship right now.
Sooooo the alternative is baking my own pumpkin spice latte inspired desserts featuring all the classic fixings. And so these beautiful little cupcakes came to be! This is what I imagine a PSL tasting like, but in moist and fluffy cupcake form.
what makes these pumpkin spice latte cupcakes so good?
- shot of espresso
- super moist
- easy to make
- warm and toasty autumn flavor
- whipped cream on top
which coffee is best for PSL cupcakes
The taste of the coffee in these cupcakes is very subtle and you probably wouldn't be able to tell it was there if you didn't make the cupcakes yourself! Pumpkin spice lattes usually feature a shot of espresso, so why should these cupcakes be any different??
I personally used a single shot of Altissio from Nespresso, but you can use any espresso you like. You can also dissolve 1 tablespoon of instant coffee in 40mL of boiling water and achieve the same deliciously caffeinated taste!
stabilized whipped cream
A classic pumpkin spice latte is usually topped off with some whipped cream. While regular ole' whipped cream works perfectly fine in a latte, for cupcakes we need what's call "stabilized" whipped cream.
- What is stabilized whipped cream? It's essentially whipped cream that's combined with a stabilizer (usually gelatin, cream cheese, or cornstarch) so that it holds it's shape firmer and for longer periods of time. Regular whipped cream typically lasts at most around 3 hours, while stabilized whipped cream can last up to 2 days.
There are many different ways to stabilize whipped cream (this is a really good article going over all of them in more detail if you're interested!) For this recipe, we're using a combination of cream cheese and powdered sugar to stabilize the whipped cream. Cream cheese firms up when chilled (which helps boost stability) and powdered sugar has some cornstarch in it (which will absorb excess moisture).
how to make pumpkin spice latte cupcakes
1. Whisk together dry ingredients.
2. Whisk together wet ingredients.
3. Combine wet and dry ingredients. And you officially have your cupcake batter!
4. Portion into cupcake tins and bake.
5. Cool. Cool for about 10 minutes in the baking pan then transfer onto a wire rack. Make sure the cupcakes cool COMPLETELY to room temperature before frosting.
6. Make the pumpkin pie spice sugar: Mix together sugar and pie spice and set aside. This is totally optional but adds some nice sparkle and flavor on top of the cupcakes!
7. Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.
8. Add remaining frosting ingredients and whip together until it reaches stiff peaks.
9. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice sugar on top.
Enjoy your PSL cupcakes!
- Use pure pumpkin puree. Steer clear of pumpkin pie filling - it has added sugar and spices and can throw off the flavor of your cupcakes!
- Use pure maple syrup! I know it's a little pricey, but table / pancake syrup just doesn't measure up in terms of flavor. It's one of the few ingredients I think you're better off splurging a little bit extra on. Plus you could probably get a whole jug of maple syrup for the price of 2 pumpkin spice lattes.
- Don't overmix the cupcake batter. It's unnecessary work, and it'll deflate the air and overwork the gluten in the cupcakes. This will lead to dense, flat, and sad cupcakes.
- Fill the cupcake cups no more than ⅔ of the way full. This will ensure an even and perfect rise on the cupcakes.
- Use cold heavy cream. It whips up faster and more stable.
- Don't overwhip the cream. The frosting will end up soft and liquid!
Can I leave out the espresso?
Yes! It technically won't be a pumpkin spice latte cupcake anymore, but it'll still be equally delicious.
Can I use granulated sugar instead of brown?
Yes. Brown sugar adds a bit more moisture, but these are equally delicious with granulated. You could also make your own brown sugar at home if you'd like!
Can I use another frosting?
Yes! I chose whipped cream just for the latte vibes, but you can use any frosting you like. Some other delicious choices include cream cheese frosting, buttercream, or ermine frosting!
Unfrosted cupcakes will keep for around 3 days at room temperature or 5 days in the fridge. Keep covered with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.
The frosted cupcakes will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge (any longer and the whipped cream frosting could start to soften). If you don't plan on serving your cupcakes within 1 to 2 days, then hold off on making the whipped cream until you get closer to serving time!
check out these other recipes!
Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes Recipe
For the pumpkin spice cupcakes:
- 1 & ½ cups (180g) all-purpose flour, spoon and leveled
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (100g) packed brown sugar, light or dark
- ⅓ cup (80mL) pure maple syrup
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup (120mL) vegetable oil, or any neutral flavored oil
- 1 cup (240g) pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling (about half of a 14 ounce can)
- 1 shot (40mL) single espresso, at room temperature (about 3 tablespoons) *see notes
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the pumpkin spice sugar (optional - for topping):
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
For the stabilized whipped cream frosting:
- 2 ounces (57g) cold cream cheese
- ½ cup (65g) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 cup (240mL) cold heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Make the pumpkin spice latte cupcakes:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 12 count muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine. Set aside.1 & ½ cups (180g) all-purpose flour,, 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, maple syrup, eggs, vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, espresso, and vanilla.½ cup (100g) packed brown sugar,, ⅓ cup (80mL) pure maple syrup, 2 large eggs, ½ cup (120mL) vegetable oil,, 1 cup (240g) pure pumpkin puree,, 1 shot (40mL) single espresso,, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix together until just combined and you no longer see dry streaks of flour. Take care not to overmix.
- Portion the cupcake batter into your prepared cupcake cups, filling each one no more than ⅔ of the way full. This recipe will make around 12 to 14 cupcakes. If you only have 1 cupcake tin, the batter can sit out for up to 1 hour if you need to bake more than one batch. Make sure the cupcake tin cools completely before filling with another batch of batter.
- Bake the cupcakes in the center of your preheated 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes in the muffin tin, then transfer onto a wire rack. Set aside to cool completely to room temperature before frosting.
Make the pumpkin pie sugar:
- In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and pie spice to combine. Set aside.2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Make the stabilized whipped cream frosting:
- * Note before you begin: Stabilized whipped cream will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge. If you don't plan on serving the cupcakes within that time, avoid making the frosting until you get closer to the day you're going to serve them!
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle or whisk attachment, mix together cream cheese and powdered sugar on low speed until smooth and combined.2 ounces (57g) cold cream cheese, ½ cup (65g) powdered sugar,
- Gradually add in your cold heavy cream in about 3 or 4 additions, beating well to combine after each addition.1 cup (240mL) cold heavy cream
- Add salt and vanilla. On high speed, whip until it reaches stiff peaks. To test if the whipped cream is ready, dip your beater into the whipped cream and flip the beater upside down. The tip of the whipped cream should not curl over. Take care not to overwhip or the frosting can actually begin to soften!¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pipe your whipped cream onto the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle over some pumpkin pie spice sugar before digging in!