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Bigger is definitely better when it comes to these towering Pumpkin Hi-Hat Cupcakes! These beauties are filled with salted caramel, topped with a swirl of pumpkin spice frosting, and dipped in the most gorgeous glossy chocolate topping.
Pumpkin spice cupcakes dipped in chocolate
As a frosting enthusiast (some would say frosting freak), hi-hat cupcakes are my weakness. My ideal frosting:cake ratio is pretty much 1:1, so you can see why cupcakes topped with towering swirls of frosting would appeal to me! And the beautiful, shiny chocolate glaze that covers the frosting is a delicious bonus.
What are hi-hat cupcakes?
Traditional hi-hat cupcakes are chocolate cupcakes topped with marshmallow frosting, covered with a thin chocolate glaze. This recipe gives them a fall twist by starting with a moist pumpkin cake, stuffing them with salted caramel filling, and finishing with big swirls of smooth and creamy pumpkin spice buttercream frosting. After a nice dip in semi-sweet chocolate, the cupcakes are finished with nuts, sprinkles, or whatever else you’d like.
If you love all things pumpkin, don’t miss our Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake, Patterned Pumpkin Roll, and Pumpkin Fudge. And you can find much more pumpkin recipe inspiration in our list of the best pumpkin recipes!
🧾 What You’ll Need
Here are a few of the ingredients you’ll need and some tips to keep in mind as you make these cupcakes. (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)
- Pumpkin puree: Make sure you are buying pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling. Pie filling has added sugar and other ingredients, and it won’t work for this recipe.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: Pumpkin Pie Spice is definitely pumpkin’s BFF. This blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice adds the perfect touch of warmth and coziness to the recipe. If you don’t have any, you can swap in regular cinnamon to add similar fall flavor vibes.
- Orange and yellow gel food coloring: I like Americolor brand orange gel and yellow gel food coloring.
- Thick salted caramel: You’ll want to use a thick jarred caramel sauce, not the thin kind that comes in a squeeze bottle. My personal favorite is Trader Joe’s Caramel Sauce.
- Decorative sprinkles: You can top these cupcakes with chopped toasted nuts or sprinkles, like these cute Mini Fall Leaf Sprinkles.
- Semi-sweet chocolate: Chopping up a chocolate bar will give you the best results–I’m a big proponent of Trader Joe’s pound plus bars, if those are available to you. Otherwise, go for high-quality chocolate chips like Guittard–they’ll give you the best flavor.
You’ll want to have these equipment basics to make this recipe. (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)
- Muffin or Cupcake Pan: I recommend using a standard-sized cupcake pan for this recipe.
- Cupcake liners: I used Wilton Color Cups orange ombre cupcake liners in these pictures.
- Piping bag:you’ll want a piping bag and a large round piping tip to decorate these cupcakes.
Here’s a quick photo guide showing how to make pumpkin hi-hat cupcakes. You can find the full printable instructions in the recipe card down below.
Cut and Fill the Cupcakes
- Bake pumpkin spice cupcakes, and let them cool completely.
- Use a sharp paring knife to cut a cone-shaped hole out of the top of the cupcakes.
- Scoop a spoonful of salted caramel sauce into the hole, coming almost all the way to the top.
- Cut the bottom off of the cupcake cone, and replace the top of the cupcake on top of the caramel.
Add frosting and prep the chocolate glaze
- Pipe the frosting in one big decorative swirl on top of each cupcake.
- Place the cupcakes in the refrigerator (or freezer) until completely chilled. The success of this recipe depends on the frosting being very cold and solid!
- Prepare the glaze: combine semi-sweet chocolate and vegetable oil. Microwave to melt the chocolate, and whisk until smooth and well-mixed.
Dip the cupcakes in the glaze
- Hold a chilled cupcake by the base and dunk it in the warm chocolate glaze.
- Lift it out of the glaze and hold it over the cup, letting the excess glaze drip back into the cup.
Sprinkle and Enjoy
- While the glaze is still wet, add sprinkles to the top if desired. Then place the cupcakes in the refrigerator to let the glaze set.
- If you’re not a caramel fan, you can omit the salted caramel filling, or use chocolate ganache or hot fudge sauce instead.
- For the chocolate glaze, I highly recommend using chopped chocolate bars instead of chocolate chips. Chocolate chips are much thicker when they melt, so the glaze won’t be as thin and pretty. If you need to use chips, keep an eye on the texture, and add a bit of extra oil if needed to get a good dipping consistency.
- I went with fun fall sprinkles, but toasted pecans or gingersnap crumbs would also be really good!
💡 Tips and FAQs
My #1 tip for success is to be very mindful of the temperature of your components. The frosting needs to be very cold when you dip it, otherwise it can melt in the chocolate or fall off the cupcake. Likewise, the chocolate should be fluid and slightly warm, but not at all hot to the touch.
If you need more pumpkin inspiration, check out my collection of pumpkin dessert recipes!
Devil’s Food Cake with Pumpkin Butterscotch Frosting
Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake
Don’t miss the step-by-step tutorial showing how to make Pumpkin Hi-Hat Cupcakes – check out the web story here!
Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes
For the Cupcakes:
- 1 Spice cake mix, or carrot cake mix
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 8 oz pumpkin puree, (1 cup), not pumpkin pie filling
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or cinnamon
For the Frosting:
- 12 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 20 oz powdered sugar, (5 cups)
- Pinch salt
- 2 TBSP milk, (can substitute pumpkin spice coffee creamer), at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or cinnamon
- Orange and yellow food coloring, I used Americolor brand
- 2 cups thick salted caramel sauce, (the thick kind in the jar, not the squeeze bottle)
- 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate, (2 cups), finely chopped
- 2 TBSP vegetable oil
- sprinkles, or other decorations
To Make the Cupcakes:
- Fill 24 cupcake cavities with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Combine all the ingredients for the cupcakes and mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes, then scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl well. Scoop the batter into the cupcake pans, filling each about 2/3 full.
- Bake the cupcakes for 20-22 minutes, until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Cool completely before decorating.
To Make the Frosting:
- Combine the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix them together on low speed, then gradually raise the speed to medium and beat it for 4 minutes, until the mixture is white and fluffy.
- Add the salt, milk, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice. Beat on low speed until the liquids are incorporated. Once the liquid is mixed in, gradually raise the speed to medium and beat for another 2-3 minutes, until the frosting has come together, is nice and smooth, and holds firm peaks.
- Mix in a few drops each of orange and yellow food coloring, until you get a pumpkin color you are happy with. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip.
- Use a sharp paring knife to cut a cone-shaped hole out of the top of the cupcakes. Scoop a spoonful of salted caramel sauce into the hole, coming almost all the way to the top. Cut the bottom off of the cupcake cone, and replace the top of the cupcake on top of the caramel.
- Once all of the cupcakes are filled, pipe the frosting on top in one big decorative swirl. I like to do about four loops but you can make your swirls bigger or smaller.
- When all of the cupcakes are frosted, place them on a baking sheet and freeze them for 20 minutes, or refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes. This chillin time is crucial. You need the frosting to be very, very firm when dipping!
- While you wait for the frosting to chill, make the chocolate glaze. Combine the chopped semi-sweet chocolate and the vegetable oil in a medium bowl, and microwave in 30-second increments until melted. Whisk until smooth. Allow it to cool until the glaze is barely warm to the touch, but still very fluid.
- Transfer some of the glaze to a tall, narrow glass—a measuring cup works well for this purpose. Hold a chilled cupcake by the base and dunk it in the chocolate glaze, making sure that the chocolate covers all of the frosting on top. Lift it out of the glaze and hold it over the cup, letting the excess glaze drip back into the cup.
- While the glaze is still wet, add sprinkles to the top if desired. Once all of the cupcakes are dipped, refrigerate them to set the glaze. The chocolate glaze will get soft and tacky at room temperature, so it’s recommended that you keep them in the refrigerator until shortly before serving. I do like to let them sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before serving, so the frosting isn’t quite so cold. Enjoy!
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
About Elizabeth LaBau
I’m Elizabeth, but you can call me SugarHero! I’m a former pastry chef turned blogger, cookbook author, and baking instructor, and I consider myself sugar’s #1 fan. Learn more from my About page, or connect with me on social media:
Elizabeth, I enjoy your writing SO VERY MUCH 😀 and I yearn to try out this recipe!! I also firmly believe the cake/frosting ratio of 1:1 is astonishingly acceptable! I am intrigued by the frosting recipe and that’s just another solid reason to try this recipe. Thank you for the entertaining text and tempting pics! Rating the recipe 5 stars in advance just because I know it’s deserving!
HollyRae, you are too sweet! Thank you so much, and I can’t wait to hear how it goes if you give it a try! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
I have a question about the cake papers/liners. Where do you buy those were the foil is on the inside and the paper on the outside, I always have seen them the other way around. Thanks for your time, Eva
These are special liners that are designed to be grease-proof! They have foil on the inside so the design on the outside stays colorful and vibrant. They’re made by Wilton and are called ColorCups. I buy them at Michael’s or JoAnn’s, but they’re also on Amazon and other online stores.
Okay, these cupcakes are everything I want in a fall cupcake! Love how you used coffee creamer and the high hat is just so cool! Excited to try it!
Thank you Carissa! Coffee creamer is totally my secret weapon for adding fun flavorings to frosting. 😀 Please let me know how it goes if you give it a try!
What is the difference between pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie filling? In the UK we don’t have quite so many variants on pumpkin products here! We have a product in our supermarkets called Baking Buddy Natural Pumpkin Puree. Would that be the right thing to use? Guessing that pureed pumpkin flesh from a fresh pumpkin is going to include too much water?
Also is your coffee creamer the powdered kind? As I would need to create my own by mixing creamer with spices as we don’t have that here either!
Hi Gemma! Pumpkin puree is just pumpkin–which is what it sounds like your product is. Pumpkin pie filling has sugar and spices and maybe other things added, so it’s great for whipping up a quick pie but not as good to use in baking recipes since it has other additives.
The coffee creamer is liquid, but if you can’t find it, then I would substitute whipping cream in the frosting! 😀
Can’t wait to try these! Could I use the sugar-free version of the Pumpkin Pie creamer? Thanks!
Hi Anne! I haven’t tried the sugar-free version of the creamer but my guess is that it would work for the frosting? I’ve made the frosting with regular milk and cream and other flavors of creamer and all of those variations have worked. Maybe try a half batch at first to see? Please let me know how it goes if you give it a try!
Thank you so much for making this holiday season a good one happy days.
Beverly, thank you so much! A happy holiday season to you as well.
Hi, as I live in Australia we don’t have all the
wonderful cooking/baking spices you have in
the USA so I would love to bake these great
looking Pumpkin Cup Cakes but I need to
know what I can substitute for the Internation
Delight Pumpkin Pie Spice Creamer or am I
able to buy it using the internet.
I notice some comments about Coffee Creamer,
what recipes is that used in?
I have only found your site today and look forward
to trying out your recipes.
Hi, thank you so much! As far as I know the creamer isn’t available in Australia so I recommend people use whipping cream in its place and adding additional pumpkin pie spices since you wont be getting the flavor from the creamer.
These look fantastic! I’ll have to give them a try!
These are wonderful! Fun, festive and full of flavor – fabulous!
Hi Beth! Thanks for commenting. These are so fun for the fall!
Pumpkin spice, filling, and that much frosting?! These are definitely the cupcakes for me.
Right?!? Thanks for commenting Beth!
These are the best treat for fall. Look so cute and delicious too. Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome! Thanks for leaving a comment. Cheers!
Wow! Now this is fall cupcake perfection right here. Looks so decadent! 🙂
Hi Carrie! Decadent indeed! Thanks for leaving a comment.
Wow! Delicious Fall flavors and completely drool worthy.
Hi Andrea! I know what you mean about being drool-worthy . . . I can’t look at these without my mouth watering. LOL.