2 (and a 1/2) ingredient pumpkin muffcakes + brown sugar cream cheese frosting

fall is the time for pumpkin flavored everything, but i have to admit, i’ve never been a huge pumpkin fan. on thanksgiving i always opt for the apple pie over the pumpkin pie. though as with many food items i haven’t been besties with in the past, i’m coming around and changing my tune.

this recipe, originally from the big red kitchen, has been getting around on pinterest (what a sloot), but the first review i read about it was on erika’s urban grace blog, and i was convinced that i had to give it – and pumpkin – a shot.

is so easy peasy squeezy it’s ridiculous. it’s also healthy (minus the frosting i add). and extremely genius.


the recipe is originally a pumpkin bread, but i baked it in cupcake form. the texture is a bit more dense than airy, so it’s more muffin-like. but i frosted them with a delicious brown sugar cream cheese icing, which makes them cupcake-like. let’s split the difference and call them muffcakes (which sounds kind of dirty).

pumpkin muffcakes

1 box cake mix (i used yellow; spice, chocolate – whatever you wish)
1 15-oz can 100% pumpkin puree (plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling)
heaping 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (may be omitted, but increases the flavor of pumpkin)

(note: do not use the oil, eggs or water as indicated on the cake mix. only the pumpkin. this is the genius and healthyness of it).

preheat oven to 350 degrees. mix all ingredients together well. pour into prepared cupcake tins (either greased or with liner). bake for 17-18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

recipe notes:
-this made me 16 cupcakes. i used a full-sized ice cream scoop to measure into my tins. they rose a lot, so you can fill them only about 1/2 way, and you will get more cupcakes (and you may need to decrease the cooking time a little).
-the batter will be thick and sticky. this is normal.
-i made these again 2 days later for work, and added in about a 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips. yum!

brown sugar cream cheese frosting

1 1/4 sticks butter (10 tablespoons), softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed (optional: an additional 2 tablespoons or so)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered sugar

cream the cream cheese in an electric mixer for 1 minute. add the butter, beating for 1-2 minutes, or until incorporated. add the brown sugar, pinch of salt and vanilla extract, and beat until incorporated. turn off mixer and add 1 cup of powdered sugar. mix on low speed until incorporated so it doesn’t fly out of the bowl. taste and slowly add more powdered sugar until you reach your desired sweetness. if you want a more pronounced brown sugar taste (like me; brown sugar is my favorite ingredient), add another tablespoon or two of brown sugar (but not too much, it will become grainy) and mix well.

recipe notes:
-this generously frosted 16 cupcakes, and i had some left over.
-i don’t like my frosting too sweet, which is why i love cream cheese frosting. but it can’t be too cream-cheesy either. i like to know its cream cheese, but not feel like i’m eating cream cheese. huh? it makes sense to me. so you may need to add even more powdered sugar, if that’s how you roll.

mmm{look at that gorgeous color!}

when i brought these over to a friend’s house, her mom told me she uses this same ‘trick’ for pancakes — adds pumpkin puree to the dry pancake batter instead of eggs/milk, etc. it would make a delicious fall breakfast! i’m thinking it would go great with a glaze instead of syrup.


these cupcakes are super moist, and have such a great flavor. you can taste the pumpkin, but it’s not too strong. and cream cheese icing makes everything better – especially when it has brown sugar, the most magical ingredient on earth.

my second time making them, i used these totally cute cupcake liners that i snagged at home goods. love them! (but it was hard to not get the batter or the frosting on them, so they’re not the cleanest).

take 2

have you tried this 2 1/2 ingredient recipe yet? are you a fan of pumpkin? let me know if you have other must-make pumpkin recipes to further convert me to a pumpkin lover.


linked to remodelaholic, mommy by day crafter by night, southern lovely and between naps on the porch


15 thoughts on “2 (and a 1/2) ingredient pumpkin muffcakes + brown sugar cream cheese frosting

    • Hannah- I love that you read this blog!!
      Justine- I just took a bite of my computer. Those look ahhmazing. I might try to add some butterscotch morsels or drizzle melted carmel and chopped nuts on top of the cream cheese frosting when I make these this weekend.
      Thanks for sharing! I will have to send you my recipe for Bison chili. literally-it is out of this world. I am making it now in the crockpot.

      • ha! let me know what you add so i can try it out. i thought caramel would pair nicely with them too, but haven’t tried it out yet. bison chili?! does it really have bison in it? little nervous….

  1. wow wow wow! that looks so yummy. I have to try it out. Thank you so much sharing and for linking up to our party Show and Share this week! Come on back this Wednesday to link up your current projects.

    A mommy’s life…with a touch of YELLOW

  2. This is such a great idea! I saw a similar recipe in blogland-she topped hers with a piece of candy corn for an extra festive touch!! Loving yours too! Hoping to try your recipe out over the weekend!! Thanks for sharing!!

  3. I made these cupcakes this week. Super easy and fast!! To keep the lowfat trend going, I topped them with a fat-free cool whip, pudding, & powder sugar frosting. They weren’t as pretty as yours and probably not as tasty but the payoff was I didn’t feel guilty eating them.

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