I too have fallen under the spell of pumpkin. I happily am not part of the PSL crowd but I do love my mother's pumpkin bread. She would make it every Thanksgiving and we would eat it for breakfast for days with a generous dollop of cream cheese on top. It was one of the first things I helped her make and I can still clearly smell that first batch. Baking with my mother always made/makes me happy. Every Fall as the light starts to change to that more muted gold in the mornings and the air gets a little crisper, I start thinking about all the wonderful foods that really come to life in Autumn. Pumpkin is at the top of the list.
These are Pumpkin Bread inspired cupcakes and just to really get in the mood, I made them with Pike Brewing Co.'s Harlot's Harvest Pumpkin Ale. I think it added a little bitterness and a caramel note to them. I also added Theo Chocolate Nibs for texture and to add a little surprise of chocolate. Pumpkin and chocolate are really good friends that don't see enough of each other!
The cupcake recipe is adapted from thebeeroness.com. This woman is a genius! If you like beer (and who doesn't) then you will be inspired by her great combinations of using beer in baking and cooking. I changed very little about the recipe itself. I used cloves instead of allspice and I used olive oil instead of canola oil. I also added the nibs.
For the frosting, I boiled down about 1/3 cup of the Pumpkin Ale to about 3 T of liquid. It became really dark and rich in color. Truth be told, I did't love what it did to the taste of the frosting. I am omitting it from the recipe but I am telling you that it was a cool experiment. I just think I need to use a porter or a stout instead. The base frosting is my favorite and the favorite frosting of everyone i make it for. It is SUPER easy and foolproof. (I am that fool.) I got the recipe from a lovely woman who runs a beautiful bakery in Fort Worth, TX called The Black Rooster. If you are ever in the neighborhood - STOP! She does a fantastic job on both pastries and bread.
In a mixer with a paddle attachment, add butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar together on low speed. Continue to increase speed as ingredients become incorporated. Once everything is starting to get fluffy, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add vanilla, coffee, syrup, and cinnamon. Keep beating the frosting for another 5 minutes or until the frosting is somewhat glossy, smooth, and fluffy.
Ice cupcakes and serve. Any leftover frosting can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.