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Fall means it’s PSL season, but these Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes are even better than the ubiquitous drink!
Every fall, I always have to remind myself what PSL stands for because EVERYONE is like “OMG PSL IS BACK” or “FIRST PSL OF THE SEASON!!” and I’m always like, “What the HECK is PSL? Pacific….South…?!”
Oh right. Duh, the infamous Starbucks drink that tastes like dirt. The first time I had a PSL, I spit it back into the cup and asked for a new drink. I just don’t know what it is, but to me, it tasted like leaves and not very pumpkin spice-y.
Well, even with my dislike for PSLs, I always think that if something isn’t delicious in drink form, it might be better in a cupcake form—and oh boy, was I right. These pumpkin spice latte cupcakes are deeelish! They have a hint of coffee flavor—not too strong!—and then the amazing pumpkin spice comes right through. The whipped cream topping is light and airy and the caramel drizzled on top is the perfect finishing touch.
What You’ll Need
Ready for the best version of a PSL you’ll ever
drink eat? Here are the ingredients you’ll need to whip up a batch of pumpkin spice latte cupcakes.
For the cupcakes:
- All-purpose flour
- Espresso powder – It’s best to use espresso powder, not ground coffee; espresso powder is stronger, so ground coffee won’t give your cupcakes the same color and flavor.
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Pumpkin pie spice – Here’s how to make your own.
- Pumpkin puree – Make sure you grab a can of puree, not pumpkin pie filling. It’s not the same!
- Dark brown sugar
- Vegetable oil – Canola oil or another neutral-flavored oil for baking can be swapped in.
- Eggs – Take them out about 30 minutes before you start baking to let them come to room temperature.
- Coffee – Black coffee, brewed with any beans you have on hand.
For the topping:
- Heavy whipping cream
- Confectioners sugar
- Caramel sauce – I combine 10 unwrapped caramel candies with 4 tablespoons of heavy cream in a small saucepot over low heat until melted. Once the mixture cools, drizzle it over the whipped cream topping.
How to Make Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
Now that you’ve gathered your ingredients, it’s time to get baking! Here are step-by-step instructions for making this pumpkin spice latte cupcakes recipe:
Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350ºF, then line your muffin tins with baking cups.
Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and pumpkin spice in a large bowl.
Make the batter. Use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to combine the pumpkin, sugars, and oil. Beat the eggs in one at a time, then switch the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients. Once they’re fully incorporated, add the rest. Continue mixing until just combined.
Bake the muffins. Divide the batter evenly among the baking cups, then bake the cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Soak with coffee. While the cupcakes are fresh out of the oven, use a pastry brush to brush the tops with coffee. Let it soak in, then repeat two more times. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.
Make the topping. Put the whisk attachment on your stand mixer and add the heavy cream to the bowl. Whip the cream starting at low speed, then gradually increase the speed as it thickens. Slowly pour in the confectioners sugar, then increase the speed to medium high and beat until stiff peaks form.
Top the cupcakes. Transfer the whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip. Pipe the whipped cream onto each of the cooled cupcakes, then drizzle them with the caramel sauce.
Tips for Success
Here are a few tips, tricks, and answers to questions you might have about making pumpkin spice latte cupcakes:
- Using a hand mixer. No stand mixer? Not a problem! Use an electric hand mixer or mix the batter by hand. It takes a little bit of effort to make whipped cream by hand, but you’ll get a workout in before eating your cupcakes!
- Alternatives to pastry bags. If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can put the whipped cream in a zip-top bag and snip off one of the corners to pipe on the topping. You can also just use a spoon to dollop the whipped cream onto each cupcake.
- Finding espresso powder. Espresso powder isn’t the same as ground espresso beans—it’s more finely ground, so it won’t make your cupcakes grainy. You can usually find espresso powder in the coffee section at the grocery store; if you can’t find it, you can substitute instant coffee as long as it’s also finely ground. Since instant coffee has a less assertive flavor than espresso, you can offset this by brewing a stronger cup of coffee to brush onto the cupcakes.
Can I Use Frosting Instead of Whipped Cream?
Go for it! A cream cheese frosting always complements pumpkin, but you could also do a vanilla bean buttercream, homemade salted caramel frosting, or even a marshmallow frosting. I wouldn’t recommend a chocolate frosting or ganache, though, because the chocolate flavor will overpower the flavors in the cupcakes.
How Should I Store Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes?
Because they have whipped cream frosting, you’ll need to store these cupcakes in the refrigerator. Pop them in an airtight container; they’ll keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Can I Freeze This Recipe?
Kind of! You can freeze the cakes themselves, but I don’t recommend freezing them with the whipped cream on top. If you freeze the cupcakes, freeze them unfrosted. When you’re ready to eat them, thaw them on the countertop overnight, then make the whipped cream frosting and caramel drizzle.
Other pumpkin dessert recipes to try this Fall:
- Pumpkin spice chocolate chunk muffins
- Pumpkin cheesecake bites
- Pumpkin spice sheet cake
- Pumpkin cheesecake swirl brownies
- Pumpkin dream cake
Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
- 2 ⅔ cup all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons espresso powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1: 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup coffee, for brushing
For the topping:
- 2 ¼ cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
- ¼ cup confectioners sugar
- Caramel sauce for drizzling, (I just combined 10 unwrapped caramel candies with 4 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepot on low heat. I let cool then drizzled over the whipped cream topping)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line muffin tins with baking cups.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together pumpkin puree, sugar, dark brown sugar, and oil.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- With the mixer on low, gently add in the dry ingredients in two additions. Mix until just incorporated.
- Evenly divide the batter amongst the baking cups, filling them about 2/3 of the way full.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- While the cupcakes are still warm, with a pastry brush, brush the tops of the cupcakes with coffee. Allow the first coat to soak in before repeating with the 2nd and 3rd coat. Let cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
- In the meantime while the cupcakes are cooling, make the topping.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, gently whip the cream, starting at a low speed and gradually increasing. Slowly pour in the confectioners sugar then increase the speed of the mixer to medium high and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Put the whipped cream mixture in a pastry bag fitted with your favorite decorative tip. Pipe the whipped cream on top of the cooled cupcakes then drizzle with caramel sauce.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Photography by Jamie Vespa