To begin a blog post, I normally describe an event that inspired my sweet treats or something that occurred before I baked them. However, the story of what happened after I created these cupcakes is much sweeter—and more interesting—than a four-paragraph depiction of how the recipe idea popped into my head while swinging a kettlebell during my morning workout last month. So bear with me while we go backwards today!
We temporarily moved to a new town a few weeks ago, and after lugging a couple of key kitchen boxes out of storage, I immediately set to work testing our new oven. I sent most of the goodies with my guy when he hung out with friends, but after giving three batches of the same cookies to the same friend, I realized that I should probably take some over to our new neighbors instead.
However, as a very shy introvert, I kept procrastinating. I frozen muffins and scones (thanks to Dorothy’s helpful tutorial!) and brought containers of cookies and crumbles to my parents when we drove down for an afternoon. But with how cute I thought these cupcakes would look, I hoped that maybe they could do the talking when I knocked on the doors, so I eventually mustered up the courage. Besides, when does anybody refuse homemade goodies?
So I walked across the grass and tapped on the door. After a few long moments, it opened and a woman greeted me, her three-year-old son peering around her legs. “Hi, I’m your new neighbor—I’m Amy—and I made cupcakes, so I wanted to bring you some,” I awkwardly managed to eke out.
“Oh! From that home?” She pointed, and I nodded. She smiled, introduced herself and the man cooking dinner in the kitchen, and gushed, “My kids will love these! Say thank you Miss Amy!” and she motioned to her tiny son to repeat after her.
A few seconds later, he whispered, “Thank you Miss Amy,” then ran inside after his sister.
I left with a full heart—and more room on my countertops to bake!
The following evening, just as I finished my next photo shoot, my doorbell rang twice. I set down my camera, walked over to the entryway, and pulled open the door. A big bouquet of bright yellow sunflowers greeted me, held by the woman’s ten-year-old daughter.
“Thank you for the cupcakes,” she said and offered the flowers to me, then nudged her toddler brother, who had momentarily forgotten that he held the card. He shyly stuck out his hand to give me the envelope. After reintroducing myself and thanking them, I closed the door and read the card.
“Thank you for the delicious cupcakes! Welcome to the neighborhood!”
So… These Maple Cupcakes with Pumpkin Pie Frosting were what I brought over! Although maybe I should call them my neighborly cupcakes… They’re full of fall flavors and downright irresistible!
For the maple flavor in the cupcake batter, you’ll need both maple syrup and maple extract. The syrup alone creates a fairly subtle flavor, so the extract amplifies the taste. You can find maple extract on the baking aisle near the vanilla. It’s shelf-stable and keeps for ages, and you can make these and these with the leftovers!
It’s very important to coat your cupcake liners with nonstick cooking spray. Be generous! With paper liners, I usually do a double-spray. Low fat cupcake and muffin batters stick to paper liners like superglue, so this little trick helps you peel away the wrapper without taking half of the cupcake with it. If you’re using metallic liners, just do a quick spray and you’ll be set.
If you forget to spray your liners or don’t quite coat them well enough, don’t worry! Just seal your cupcakes inside of an airtight container for 24 hours, or at least overnight. That’ll help loosen the sides of the liners so they’ll pull away more easily.
Now onto the frosting! Isn’t that everyone’s favorite part? Especially if it tastes like pumpkin pie?
Like most of my frostings, this one uses Greek yogurt as a base, combined with pumpkin purée, the perfect trinity of pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger), and a little instant pudding mix. I tried really, really hard to omit the pudding mix and make the cupcakes completely clean-eating, but… It just wouldn’t thicken to be a pipe-able consistency. Instead, it stayed soft and runny, almost like a thick glaze. Since I planned on delivering these cupcakes to my new neighbors—and hoped to make a good first impression!—I wanted those pretty frosting swirls.
Aren’t they cute? In all of their cozy maple and sweet oh-my-gosh-Thanksgiving-is-so-close pumpkin pie glory? Yes? Good, I’m glad. Because you wouldn’t want to miss out on these spiced little beauties!