Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes with Caramel Sauce

I’m not a huge fan of the ever popular PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) from Starbucks; way too sweet for me. Forget a drink; these ‘Pumpkin Spice’ Latte Cupcakes with Caramel Sauce are so much better!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Once the pumpkin craze hits the Internet starting sometime in August (it’s still SUMMER for crying out loud!); I feel more inclined to hide than participate. Can I be honest? I just don’t get it. Or at least I didn’t indulge until I decided to make my own ‘pumpkin spice’ latte cupcakes. Big difference!

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I admit, I enjoy the requisite pie on Thanksgiving but that pie had better have plenty of sugar and bourbon in it and a healthy dose of whipped cream (with more bourbon) on it. This year I’m thinking a creme brulee top with crumble on top of that. You know; to sort of disguise the fact that I’ve just made a pie from SQUASH!!

I’m all about the caramel and apple and more apple and maybe caramel AND apple and OK some dark rum or bourbon too. But waxing poetic about pumpkin is just genetically impossible for me. So in the same vein, I simply do not get the absolute devotion to this drink of which hordes line up for at the neighborhood Starbucks that is known as a ‘Pumpkin Spice’ Latte.

Or really sort of coffee drink…and did you know there is absolutely no pumpkin but a lot of other stuff in it including caramel coloring! I won’t get into the nutritional (or lack thereof) components because my hypocrisy would be evident when you spot me in line for an Eggnog Latte.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

I thought it would be fun to showcase this creation in a Starbucks coffee cup but that was easier said than done. I didn’t want to bake them in the cups because I knew this cake recipe should make 24 cupcakes and that number would be halved with too much cake to frosting ratio so I just staged one by putting some foil in the bottom to rest the cupcake on. I have to admit, I love how it turned out.

The resulting Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes with Caramel Sauce are sooooo good; not a pumpkin flavored cupcake but a coffee flavored cupcake with just a hint of spice. This was one of those times when the first go around was an abject failure. Wait – I take that back.

Not a failure if you love spice cake (which I don’t) but I was looking for that coffee flavor to be prominent. As I experimented it was clear after my first test that to get what I wanted I not only had to cut back on the spices but also had to REALLY boost the coffee. And that was the key.

Not looking for mocha either, nope, no chocolate in sight. Just a real coffee flavored cake with a warming hint of seasonal spice. Oh and maybe a decadent mascarpone and whipped cream frosting with some more espresso too with a caramel drizzle for good measure. Now we’re talkin’ folks!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

I actually did the frosting for these in two batches; one-half according to the recipe I’ve provided and the other half without the dried espresso. I sort of figured that parents of kids I gave them too would appreciate eliminating that extra boost of caffeine.

These brothers; Tyler, Nolan and Mason are so cute. They always come visit together and when I answer the door; they ask, ‘Do you need any help?’ Why yes boys I need help sometimes with cookies and cupcakes. They are willing warriors in that effort. Love them!


UPDATE: Apparently Starbucks has decided to add pumpkin to their mix starting in 2015. WHY? It will be interesting to see if fanatics still love it; for me I’ll still waiting for the Eggnog Latte!

PIN ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes’

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes Displayed on a Cupcake Stand. 

'Pumpkin Spice' Latte with Caramel

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes with Caramel Sauce

A coffee based cupcake with pumpkin spices and a gorgeous whipped frosting all topped with a caramel drizzle.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Cakes, Cupcakes & Cheesecake
Servings 24


For the cake:

  • 1 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 3 tablespoons instant espresso
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon check recipe paper for spice amounts
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • tsp ginger
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature separated
  • 2 sticks 8 ounces butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 11/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream divided
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • ? cup white chocolate grated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 8- ounce containers chilled mascarpone cheese


  • Caramel Sauce
  • Cinnamon


To Make the Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line 24 cupcake forms with paper liners.
  • Combine the brewed coffee and espresso powder in a glass measuring cup and let cool.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl.
  • Beat the egg whites in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (use a whisk attachment if available) on high speed until soft peaks form. Scoop the egg whites into a separate bowl and set aside.
  • Dry the inside of the bowl thoroughly with a paper towel. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter in the mixer on high speed until smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar until incorporated, then add the vanilla and beat, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the mixture is very light in color and texture, about 4 minutes.
  • Beat in the egg yolks, 1 at a time until thoroughly mixed.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture a third at a time, alternating with half of the cooled coffee, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until smooth after each addition.
  • Using a spatula, stir about 1/4 of the egg whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remaining whites. Fill the cupcake molds 2/3 full and bake 15-20 minutes until the tops spring back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Gently remove them from the form and allow to cool completed before frosting.

To Make the Frosting:

  • Bring 1 cup cream to boil in small saucepan. Slowly pour cream over espresso, whisking until espresso is dissolved. Add grated white chocolate and stir until smooth. Add remaining 1/2 cup of the whipping cream and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours. Can be made one day ahead; cover and keep chilled.
  • Add mascarpone to chilled mixture; Using electric mixer; beat on low speed until blended and smooth. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until mixture is thick and medium-firm peaks form when beaters are lifted, about 2 minutes (take care you don't over beat or mixture will curdle).
  • Pipe or dollop onto the top of cupcakes.
  • Drizzle with Caramel and sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon.


Nutrition Facts
Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes with Caramel Sauce
Serving Size
1 grams
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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    1. Certainly Becky; I always start with a recipe I’ve used for a cake mix to do my cupcakes anyhow. I would use 2 – 9″ cake pans. Since I didn’t make a cake, I would have to guess on baking times so suggest you start testing at ab out 35 minutes…they could need from 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted into the cake and comes out clean. Good luck…let me know how it turns out if you go this route!

    1. Hi Julia,

      This recipe was jinxed for sure. Multiple switches to different vendors who create the software for me to format that recipe for you has seen some snafus and you got two of them. 1 1/2 became 11/2 and I’ve found from other comments with the same problem that anytime I called for 1/3 cup of something that the software had no idea how to display that so until I hear from someone, I don’t know which recipes were affected. So I appreciate the heads up and I’ve revised the recipe to display those ingredients as they should. Thanks!

  1. Great post – the pictures look great! The marscapone and white chocolate in the frosting sound divine. I can’t understand the hoopla over “PSL” and everything pumpkin. I feel like we could have a very passionate conversation over how overrated it is. 😉

    1. Thanks Claire; I gave most away but finished the last one today. Almost cried a little because they were so good. I might have added a bit more caramel. Maybe. 🙂

  2. Very clever recipe! I’m a bit puzzled, too, why there’s so much fuss over pumpkin. I like it in pie and other sweet things, but I’ve seen those recipes in August, too, and just couldn’t believe it! Anyway, this is a recipe I certainly can believe in — very nice. Thanks.

    1. It’s when food blogging becomes about anticipating traffic requests more than what’s really seasonal too. I blog what we eat. I don’t eat pumpkin in August. 🙂

  3. Barb! You did an amazing thing… Ever since you got those cups I was curious how you were going to pull this off? Well, as always you did! These look as beautiful as they do delicious! And that picture and comments of Jake (my son)… darling! He will like this blog and the cupcakes!

  4. Add this to the long list (again) why you are the best neighbor and must be the most popular on the block! These cupcakes are gorgeous and I wish I had a few myself. Yum.

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