Fall is the season of pumpkin mania. As the leaves change color, we are bombarded with pumpkin spice lattes and the classic Thanksgiving dessert, pumpkin pie. This craze can be quite inconvenient for someone like me who ranks pumpkin quite low on their list of favorite flavors. I wanted to contribute to the fall dessert and wondered, How can I put my own spin on the basic pumpkin? I decided to put an apple-cinnamon twist on it.

These cupcake pumpkins require little previous experience with fondant and are also an excuse to basically play with sugary dough. The cinnamon cream cheese frosting is a perfect complement to the cupcake, and with their eye catching design these cupcakes will leave the pumpkin pie at the dessert table far behind. 

Cinnamon Apple Cupcake Pumpkins

  • Prep Time:45 mins
  • Cook Time:20 mins
  • Total Time:1 hr 5 mins
  • Servings:12
  • Medium


  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter at room temperature divided
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract divided
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 cups shredded Gala apples
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 24 oz box fondant
  • green and orange food coloring
apple, milk, dairy product, cheese, sweet
Meghan Buonanno
  • Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and ginger in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

    dairy product, egg, cream, milk, flour, sweet, batter
    Meghan Buonanno
  • Step 2

    In another medium-sized bowl, cream 1/4 cup of unsalted butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and mix on medium-high until completely combined.

    Meghan Buonanno
  • Step 3

    Slowly beat in half of the flour mixture until mostly combined, and then pour in the almond milk. When the mixture looks somewhat curdled, add the remaining flour mixture, mixing until just barely combined.

    milk, chocolate, sweet, cream, coffee
    Meghan Buonanno
  • Step 4

    Carefully fold in the grated apples and fill a lined cupcake pan two-thirds of the way with the batter.

    butter, cookie
    Meghan Buonanno
  • Step 5

    Bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

    cookie, cake, pastry, muffin, sweet, pie
    Meghan Buonanno
  • Step 6

    While the cupcakes are baking, make the cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Beat 1 cup of butter at medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

    cream, sweet, cake
    Meghan Buonanno
  • Step 7

    Add the cream cheese, 2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla, and salt and continue to beat for an additional 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

  • Step 8

    Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar gradually. Mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, mix until it is incorporated, then increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

  • Step 9

    Divide the fondant into two pieces, and knead in the food coloring to make one piece orange and the other green.

  • Step 10

    Roll out the green fondant so it is about a quarter inch thick, and use a sharp knife cut out leaf shapes. Then using the blunt edge of the knife make indents in the shapes to resemble the veins of the leaves. Set the leaves aside to dry.

  • Step 11

    Remove cupcakes from the wrapper, and cover the top and sides with frosting. Roll the orange fondant out until 1/4 inch thick.

    cake, tea, chocolate
    Meghan Buonanno
  • Step 12

    Cover the frosted cupcake with the layer of fondant, and gently shape the fondant around the cupcake using your hands (There will be some excess fondant, ignore it for now). Then, again using the blunt side of a knife, make the indents of the pumpkin.

    Meghan Buonanno
  • Step 13

    Using a sharp knife, cut away the excess fondant as close to the cupcake as possible. Using a small bit of green fondant, make the stem of the pumpkin and attach to the center. Place one of your prepared leaves next to the stem and you are ready to serve these tiny masterpieces to any crowd.

    Meghan Buonanno

#SpoonTip: If you run out of time or fondant, frost the cupcakes and add the leaves on top for a equally tasty dessert. Enjoy!

lemon, buttercream, cream, chocolate
Meghan Buonanno

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.