Pumpkin Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache Frosting

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This small batch of pumpkin cupcakes with whipped ganache frosting are brimming with plenty of pumpkin and cozy spices for fall!  The easy recipe yields incredibly moist cupcakes that are finished with a tasty double-helping of whipped frosting.  A must-have dessert recipe for fall!

Small Batch Pumpkin Cupcakes

I’ve made a few small batches of cupcakes, and I have to say that this is one recipe where I wanted more.  It could be the cool fall air and anticipation for the holidays.  Or it could be that they were just that good.

Sometimes with pumpkin recipes, you can lose the flavor of the pumpkin.  Especially in baking – unless you are making a straight-up pumpkin pie.  However, these small batch cupcakes are full of pumpkin flavor.

And as we enter fall baking season, you may want to also check out my ever-popular cinnamon sugar pumpkin bread, its gluten free cinnamon pumpkin bread counterpart, and the pumpkin spice whoopie pies!

Why You’ll Love These Cupcakes

  • Moist – The pumpkin and brown sugar in this small batch of pumpkin cupcakes will help keep them moist.
  • Easy – Let’s be honest – with a small batch recipe for 4 cupcakes, it’s hard not to make an easy batch of cupcakes! 
  • Pure Pumpkin Flavor – Pure canned pumpkin is the star of these cupcakes.  And to be clear, it is pure pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie filling!
  • Cozy Spices – Inherent with any pumpkin dessert is the pumpkin pie spice!  Notes of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves permeate the tasty cupcakes. 
  • Double Frosting – Two frostings add complimentary layers of flavor to the pumpkin cupcakes.  Whipped chocolate ganache and whipped cream cheese frosting add a rich and tangy bite.
Pretty pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate and cream cheese frosting on a table.

What You Need To Make Small Batch Pumpkin Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • All-Purpose Flour – Looking for gluten free? Check out my gluten free pumpkin cupcakes recipe!
  • Baking Powder – To give the cupcakes a little lift and soft texture.
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice – Keep it easy and use store-bought pumpkin pie spice!
  • Salt – Salt is wonderful to balance and enhance flavors.
  • Granulated Sugar – Use regular white granulated sugar.  Or my go-to – organic cane sugar.
  • Light Brown Sugar – I recommend light brown sugar because it does not have as much moisture as dark brown sugar.  Too much moisture will make the cupcakes dense.
  • Pumpkin – Pure canned pumpkin – and not pumpkin pie filling.  Pumpkin pie filling has added ingredients we don’t need for this small batch pumpkin cupcake recipe.
  • Egg – Just 1 egg!
  • Unsalted Butter – I prefer unsalted butter because we add our own salt.
  • Chocolate Chips – For the whipped ganache, and any chocolate intensity you prefer.
  • Heavy Cream – The heavy cream is for the whipped ganache and the whipped cream cheese.
  • Cream Cheese – For the whipped cream cheese frosting.  I do recommend full-fat cream cheese because of the solid texture and flavor.
  • Maple Syrup – The maple syrup is the sweetener I used in the cream cheese frosting.  However, use any sweetener you prefer.

Baking Equipment

  • Muffin/Cupcake Pan with Liners
  • Hand Held Mixer  
  • Mixing Bowls
Pretty bowls of pumpkin puree and chocolate chips arranged on a table.

easy whipped chocolate ganache frosting

I have another whipped ganache frosting recipe, that differs slightly from this one.  It is a little thicker with the inclusion of cream cheese.  And that frosting would also be delicious on these pumpkin cupcakes!

For this particular small batch pumpkin cupcakes recipe, I made a simplified version of chocolate ganache.  Equally delicious, with fewer ingredients.  And with that, there are two ways to make it:

  • Warm the chocolate + cream – The chocolate and cream are heated together in the microwave until the chocolate starts to melt.  
  • Warm just the cream – The heavy cream is warmed and poured over the chocolate chips. 

With either option, the steps after heating are the same:

  • Stir the ganache until it is smooth. 
  • Cool in the refrigerator until the ganache is nearly set. 
  • Whip until light and fluffy.
  • Make ahead to save some time!

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

Frosting number 2 is a frosting you would probably expect with a pumpkin cupcake – cream cheese.  Much like my pairing of cinnamon cream cheese frosting in my gluten free whoopie pies. Chocolate and pumpkin are delicious.  Cream cheese and pumpkin are also delicious.  Combine all three, and you have something extremely delicious! 

Small batch pumpkin cupcakes on a table with chocolate ganache frosting.

Tips For Making Small Batch Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • Make the frostings first – Both frostings will set up even more if they have time to cool in.  Make the frostings first then refrigerate until ready to  frost the cupcakes.
  • Bring the cream cheese to room temperature – I will go as far to say this is a must.  Trying to whip cold cream cheese until it is smooth is extremely frustrating.  There is nothing worse than tiny little lumps of cream cheese in your frosting!
  • Allow the chocolate ganache to cool and set – The ganache needs time to cool and set before it will whip up light and fluffy.
  • Use pure pumpkin – Pure pumpkin in a can is what we use for this recipe, not pumpkin pie filling.
  • Light brown sugar is best – Light brown sugar still imparts flavor, but not as much moisture as dark brown sugar.  
  • Pumpkin pie spice is your friend – You can certainly whip up your own pumpkin spice blend.  But, it is the holidays, so make your life easier and use the premade store bought spice!
  • Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting – Seems obvious, but is also a test of willpower to let the cupcakes cool before devouring them!  
Close up of a single pumpkin cupcake with whipped ganache frosting.

FAQ’S

Can this small batch cupcakes recipe be doubled?

I have not tested a larger batch, but you can try it and let me know how the pumpkin cupcakes turn out!

Why can’t I use pumpkin pie filling instead of pure canned pumpkin?

Pumpkin pie filling already has sugar and spices added to it. We want to use pure canned pumpkin so we can control the sweetness and spice.

I only have dark brown sugar. Will the recipe still work?

You can certainly try dark brown sugar. The bake time may take a minute or two more, and the cupcakes could potentially turn out a little more dense.

What is the best kind of chocolate to use for whipped chocolate ganache?

You can use any kind of chocolate baking bar or chip you prefer. I do recommend a good quality chocolate chip if you use chocolate chips.

Can I substitute a different sweetener besides maple syrup in the cream cheese frosting?

Absolutely. I like using maple syrup because of its buttery sweet flavor. But feel free to swap in any sweetener you prefer.

What is the best way to store leftovers?

The frosted small batch pumpkin cupcakes can sit at room temperature for a few hours. Beyond that, I recommend covering and refrigerating because because of the cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin cupcake topped with chocolate chips and double frosting.
Single pumpkin cupcake topped with chocolate and cream cheese frosting.
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4.60 from 5 reviews

Small Batch Pumpkin Cupcakes

Yield: 4 Cupcakes
These pumpkin cupcakes with whipped ganache frosting are brimming with plenty of pumpkin and cozy spices for fall!  The small batch recipe yields incredibly moist cupcakes that are finished with a tasty double-helping of whipped frosting.  A must-have dessert recipe for fall!
Prep10 minutes
Cook20 minutes
Total30 minutes

Equipment

Ingredients
 

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 ½ ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Whipped Ganache Frosting

  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips ()
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Cupcakes

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup pure canned pumpkin
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Instructions

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In a small bowl, use a hand held mixer to whip the heavy cream into stiff peaks.
    ¼ cup heavy cream
  • In another small bowl, use the hand held mixer to beat the cream cheese and maple syrup until smooth and creamy. Use a spatula to fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese. Refrigerate until ready to frost the cupcakes. The frosting will set up more as it refrigerates.
    2 ½ ounces cream cheese, room temperature, 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Whipped Ganache Frosting

  • In a small microwave-safe bowl add the chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream. Heat until the cream is warm, but not boiling over.
    ¼ cup dark chocolate chips, ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Remove the bowl from the microwave and let the mixture sit for 3 to 5 minutes to allow the chips to melt. Then, stir the ganache until fully incorporated and smooth. Transfer to the refrigerator to allow the ganache to cool and set up. Keep in the refrigerator while your cupcakes are baking and cooling.
  • When ready to frost the cupcakes, use a hand held mixer and beat the ganache until light and fluffy – about 3 to 5 minutes.

Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line a muffin pan with 4 cupcake liners.
  • In a small mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.
    ½ cup all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ⅛ teaspoon salt, ¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add both sugars and the pumpkin puree. Whisk together until well combined. Whisk in the egg, then the melted butter.
    3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 4 tablespoons light brown sugar, ¼ cup pure canned pumpkin, 1 large egg, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and mix just until no dry streaks remain. Using a small spoon or cookie scoop, pour the batter in equal amounts into each of the cupcake liners.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the top of the cupcakes are spongy and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for 5 minutes before transferring to the wire rack to cool completely.
  • To frost the cupcakes, you can use an offset spatula to spread on layers of the ganache frosting and cream cheese frosting. Or, you can transfer each frosting to a piping bag and pipe on alternating layers. The cupcakes are best enjoyed the day they are baked!
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RECIPE NOTES

  • Serving Size – This recipe has been tested as a small batch.  If you double the recipe, let me know how they turn out!
  • Brown Sugar – I recommend light brown sugar as dark brown sugar has more moisture, and may make the cupcakes dense.
  • Pumpkin – Depending on the brand, canned pumpkin can have different names, but is the same thing:  Pumpkin Puree, Pure Pumpkin, 100% Pumpkin, Organic Pure Pumpkin.  Just be sure it is not Pumpkin Pie Filling
  • Leftover Pumpkin – You will have leftover pumpkin, regardless of the size can you use.  Check out my other pumpkin recipes to make another batch of pumpkin treats!
  • Frosting Options – Check out my other frosting recipes for different ideas to frost the pumpkin cupcakes.
  • Storing Leftovers – The cupcakes can be stored covered at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.  Beyond that, it is best to store them covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 
  • Freezing Cupcakes – Unfrosted cupcakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic, then placed in a ziploc or covered container and frozen for up to 3 months.   Thaw in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature to frost.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich
About the author photo.

about the author ...

I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!

I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you!

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