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.

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 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!

2 Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes on a white plate with the 2nd muffin cut in half to show layers and texture.

Table of Contents

🧾 What You’ll Need

5 Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes on a white tray.

Ingredients

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. 

Equipment

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.)

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.

2 photo process picture of making Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes by cutting a cone-shaped hole out of the top of the cupcakes and scooping a spoonful of salted caramel sauce into the hole.

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.
2 photo process picture of making Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes by piping the frosting in one big decorative swirl on top of the cupcakes and preparing the chocolate glaze..

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.
2 photo process picture of making Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes by holding a chilled cupcake, dunking it in the chocolate glaze, and letting the excess glaze drip back into the cup.

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.
2 photo process picture of making Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes by adding sprinkles to the top of the wet glaze and then eating the cupcake.

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.
  • Enjoy!

💭 Variations

  • 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!
2 Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes on a wooden surface next to a dripping cup of chocolate glaze and sprinkles.

💡 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.

Do I have to dip them in Chocolate?

No, definitely not! The chocolate glaze is what makes these a “hi-hat” cupcake, but you can omit the glaze and still have a delicious pumpkin spice cupcake!

Can I use less frosting?

This is a frequent question–some people are intimidated or turned off by the large pile of frosting. (Can’t relate!) You can absolutely use less frosting, just take care when dipping since it’ll be a little more difficult to dip a small swirl.

Make-ahead Information

The elements of this recipe can be made in advance and stored separately. The cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to several months. The frosting can easily keep in the refrigerator for a week–just make sure there is a layer of plastic wrap pressed directly on top to prevent it from drying out, and let it come to room temperature before using.

Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes on a wooden surface with more cupcakes on a raised cake stand in the background.

If you need more pumpkin inspiration, check out my collection of pumpkin dessert recipes!

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Don’t miss the step-by-step tutorial showing how to make Pumpkin Hi-Hat Cupcakescheck out the web story here!

Leave a Review!

If you make this recipe, let us know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on the recipe below, and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram @elabau, or use #sugarhero on IG!

Close up of the top of a Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcake.

Pumpkin Spice Hi-Hat Cupcakes

4.80 from 10 votes
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.
Prep50 minutes
Cook20 minutes
Chilling time20 minutes
Total1 hour 30 minutes
Yields24 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the Cupcakes:

For the Frosting:

To Assemble:

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Instructions 

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.

To Assemble:

  • 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!

Video

Recipe Notes

This recipe has been modified from its original version. You can find a copy of the old recipe here.
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.
 

Measuring Tips

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.

Want to learn more about baking measurements and conversion?

Nutrition

Calories: 513kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 263mg | Potassium: 236mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 1885IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 2.2mg
Tried this recipe?Snap a pic and hashtag it #SugarHero. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @elabau.
Collage of four pumpkin desserts in a square grid.

Pumpkin Dessert RECIPES 🎃

We’ve rounded up over 50 deliciously cozy pumpkin dessert recipes to help you make the most of fall baking.  Click here to get all the recipes!


Meet Elizabeth!

Hi, I’m Elizabeth — a trained pastry chef, cookbook author, video instructor, and your new Baking BFF! I’m going to teach you everything you need to know to be a sugar hero. ❤️

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25 Comments

  1. 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!

    1. 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.

  2. 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

    1. Hi 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.

  3. 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!

    1. 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!

  4. Hi Elizabeth,

    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!

    Many thanks

    1. 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! 😀

    1. 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!

  5. 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.

    1. 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.