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Helloooo, beautiful! These Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes are filled with salted caramel, topped with a swirl of pumpkin spice frosting, and dipped in the most gorgeous glossy chocolate topping!
Thank you to International Delight for sponsoring this post. This year I’m pleased to partner with them to bring you fun and creative dessert recipes.
Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes
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.
Traditional hi-hat cupcakes are chocolate cupcakes topped with marshmallow frosting, but you and me, we’re sugar heroes. We don’t need to follow those rules. Besides, I spotted 2 orange leaves on my front bush this morning, which obviously means fall is imminent and we need to lean into pumpkin spice season HARD. To the pumpkinmobile!
So these cupcakes are all pumpkin, all the time. We’re making a moist pumpkin cupcake, stuffed with salted caramel filling, and topped with smooth and creamy pumpkin spice frosting. After a nice dip in semi-sweet chocolate, the cupcakes are finished with your choice of decorations. I went with fun fall sprinkles, but toasted pecans or gingersnap crumbs would also be really good!
Flavored coffee creamer is one of my favorite shortcuts to creating custom delicious cake and frosting flavors. I used International Delight Pumpkin Pie Spice creamer in both the cupcakes and the frosting, and it added just the right amount of pumpkin spice flavor!
I also changed up my usual buttercream recipe, and came up with a new frosting recipe I think you’ll LOVE. It’s stupidly simple, with just a few ingredients, and it’s also a little bit magical. It has waaaay less powdered sugar than traditional American buttercreams, so it’s not teeth-chatteringly sweet, and it doesn’t crust over or get crunchy. It’s also smooth as silk, and the pumpkin spice flavor really shines through. Give it a try and tell me what you think!
How to Make Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes
Hi-hat cupcakes have 2 signature components: a big ole swirl of frosting on the top, and the chocolate glaze that covers the frosting. The frosting is pretty self-explanatory–just use a large tip (a round tip or star tip both work well!) and make sure you give yourself some height when you swirl, so the hi-hats live up to their name.
The chocolate glaze on hi-hat cupcakes may look fancy, but it’s honestly very simple to pull off. The most important thing to know about making hi-hat cupcakes is that you want the frosting to be cold, cold, COLD before you glaze them.
The frosted cupcakes either need to spend 20 minutes in the freezer or 30-40 in the refrigerator before they get dunked, so that the frosting doesn’t melt into the chocolate or fall off the top of the cupcake! If you’re starting with a well-chilled cupcake, I guarantee they won’t lose their hats in the chocolate bath.
The chocolate glaze is made from semi-sweet chocolate and vegetable (or coconut) oil. I strongly recommend using chopped chocolate as opposed to chocolate chips, since chocolate chips can be quite thick when melted and just won’t give your cupcakes the best flavor or texture.
The oil in the chocolate makes it thinner, so the chocolate shell on the cupcakes is delicate and not overwhelming. It also means that the chocolate will get soft and tacky when left at room temperature for long periods, so these cupcakes are best stored in the refrigerator until shortly before serving.
I filled my cupcakes with salted caramel, for extra autumn vibes, but if you’re not a caramel fan you can omit it or swap in chocolate ganache or hot fudge sauce instead. Just be sure that your filling hole is fairly small, so the cupcakes are still stable enough to support the frosting and chocolate glaze.
Enjoy, and let me know what you think if you give them a try!
Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes
For the Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes:
- 1 Spice cake mix or carrot cake mix
- ½ cup International Delight Pumpkin Pie Spice Creamer
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 8 oz pumpkin puree (1 cup), not pumpkin pie filling
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
For the Pumpkin Spice Frosting:
- 12 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
- 18 oz powdered sugar (4.5 cups)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup International Delight Pumpkin Pie Spice Creamer at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Orange and yellow food coloring I used Americolor brand
- 3 cups thick salted caramel sauce (the thick kind in the jar, not the squeeze bottle)
- 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate finely chopped
- 2 TBSP vegetable oil
- Decorative sprinkles if desired
To Make the Pumpkin Spice 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 Pumpkin Spice 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, creamer, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until the liquids are incorporated. It is normal for the mixture to look separated (and, frankly, weird and chunky) at this stage. Once the liquid is mixed in, gradually raise the speed to medium and beat for another 4 minutes, until the frosting has come together, is smooth and glossy, 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 some of 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. You just 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 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!
- 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.