Ombré Spice Cupcakes
Happy Monday to you all! How was your weekend? Did you catch any football? Bake pumpkin cookies, decorate for fall? Melt in the 95°F, 80% humidity weather? (Really, September?) I did all of the above. My favorite part was either the Lumineers concert or tackling a pumpkin cookie recipe I’d been working on all week. I’ll share them on my blog soon, promise.
In case the weather outside your window is frightful– and in the blistering hot sauna sort of way– maybe these ombré spice cupcakes will put you in the Autumn mood. Grab your PSL (or homemade pumpkin spice creamer + coffee!!) and take a seat. It’s time to begin that Fall baking magic.
This recipe is actually in partnership with McCormick. I’m on their blogging team this year and am thrilled to bring you recipes using all sorts of their products. One item I’m particularly excited about is their new food color: Color from Nature. I know you’ll appreciate these new colors as much as I do because I’m often asked about ways to naturally color icings, cupcakes, cakes, etc. These 3 new colors are all made with ingredients from nature like plants, veggies, seeds. And it comes in powder form. I think that’s pretty freaking cool!! You can mix and match + blend and combine to get all sorts of different shades.
Like ombré Fall colors. Aren’t these so fun! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
I’ll get back to the colored frosting in a sec because I want to chat about the spice cupcakes themselves. These spice cupcakes are an adaption of my new vanilla cupcakes. I’ve gotten a lot of wonderful feedback from you on that recipe, so I’ve been inspired to play with it to create new awesome flavors. Like SPICE! I love spice cupcakes from their deep flavor to their moist texture and everything in between. Not to mention how timeless they are; they’re a must every Fall season.
To make my version, I’m going to ask you to whip out dark brown sugar and butter. These two combined– creamed– will be the base of your spice cupcakes. You can use light brown sugar instead of dark brown if it’s easier for you, but let me be honest. Dark brown will give you that little extra boost of flavor. I love the stuff this time of year!
Also we’ve got all those wonderful spices. Here’s the spice line-up:
√ ground cinnamon
√ ground all-spice
√ ground ginger
√ ground nutmeg
These four warming spices will give your cupcakes most of their flavor. When I was testing this recipe, I kept switching up the amounts of each– but I’m satisfied with the amounts you’ll see in the recipe below. Maximum spice flavor. Also important: cake flour and sour cream! The two will produce the most incredible light, cakey, and fluffy spice cupcakes.
The frosting is a basic cream cheese frosting, only I use a tad more butter to get a super creamy, silky, and smooth texture. I’ve always loved spice cupcakes/cake with cream cheese frosting– reminds me of pumpkin cake, carrot cake, or banana cake. Move over chocolate because those are totally my favorite type of cake. You?
And now we can add the pretty ombré colors! I mixed and matched the Color From Nature Food Colors to get varying shades. Like, some of the Berry Nature Food Colors and some of the Sunflower Nature Food Colors to get an orange. I have it all out in the notes below so you can make all sorts of festive Fall shades.
Have fun with these! Get in the Fall spirit and color your heart out.
More recipes to get you in the fall spirit:
- Easy caramel apple turnovers (recently reshot!)
- Cinnamon chip pumpkin cookies
- Glazed apple bundt cake
- Whole wheat mini pumpkin muffins
- Snickerdoodle blondies
Ombré Spice Cupcakes
- 1 and 3/4 cups (200g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons McCormick ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon McCormick ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon McCormick ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon McCormick ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) packed dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons McCormick pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature
Autumn Colored Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces (224g) full fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 6 Tablespoons (87g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 and ½ cups (300g) confectioners' sugar
- 1 Tablespoon (115g) milk
- 1 teaspoon McCormick pure vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors*
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2 liners - this recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set aside.
- Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, all-spice, ginger, nutmeg, and salt together. Set aside.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners - fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Taste. Add an extra pinch of salt if needed.
- Divide the frosting up into however many colors you'd like. I made 2 batches of frosting to get this many colors, so stick with 3 colors for the 1 batch of frosting. Stir in the McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors to reach your desired color.
- Frost the cupcakes using one colored frosting on each one. I simply used an icing knife. Arrange the cupcakes in an ombre formation, from dark to light.
Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
*All the frosting colors: For a yellow frosting, use ½ teaspoon Sunflower Nature Food Colors. For a light yellow frosting, use ¼ teaspoon Sunflower Nature Food Colors. For an orange frosting, use ¼ teaspoon Berry Nature Food Colors + 1 teaspoon Sunflower Nature Food Colors. For a light orange, use 1/8 teaspoon Berry Nature Food Colors + 1/2 teaspoon Sunflower Nature Food Colors. For a reddish orange, use 1/4 teaspoon Sunflower Nature Food Colors and 1/2 teaspoon Berry Nature Food Colors.
Why are all the ingredients supposed to be at room temperature? Here's why!
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