I am still having trouble accepting the fact that Maddie’s first birthday has already come and gone. I know that every parent says that. Cliché or not, it seems like yesterday that we were bringing her home from the hospital and introducing her to Yellowdog.
Now that she’s well on her way to toddlerhood, I decided it would be OK for her to start eating a few sweets here and there. After all, a girl needs cake on her birthday, right? Up until this point, I’ve been pretty careful to avoid almost all sugar and salt in her diet. And, I don’t intend to start feeding her cake and cookies on a regular basis (perhaps I should go on the Maddie diet… hmmm), but we’ve started allowing her a treat here and there. In addition to her birthday cupcakes, frozen yogurt is one of her favorite treats. She takes after her mama.
To celebrate Maddie’s first birthday, we got our friends and family together for a fall-themed party at our place on the Saturday after her birthday. We decorated with lots of pumpkins and enjoyed the fall weather. The menu included chili and a sausage sandwich bar with an assortment of toppings. And, of course, there were cupcakes. Pumpkin cupcakes!
Of course, I couldn’t just make a super sugary cake for her first birthday… Instead, I opted for a (mostly) naturally sweetened pumpkin cupcake with maple cream cheese frosting. The only processed sugar that I added was just a bit of powdered sugar to improve the consistency of the frosting. It could certainly be left out, but I didn’t want to take any chances when it came to cupcakes for 30 people at Maddie’s big party.
The cupcake recipe was originally adapted from Simple Bites… But, since I was determined to make pumpkin cupcakes (instead of apple), I ended up making a few changes, and did quite a few trial runs. In the end, I was pretty happy with how the cupcakes turned out, and no one at the party even seemed to notice that they were eating naturally sweetened cupcakes made with whole wheat flour. Of course, who could complain about maple cream cheese frosting?
Maddie enjoyed her first bite of cupcake, though she was a bit skeptical at first. In the end, she happily smeared the frosting all over her face like any good birthday girl would. Now I guess I need to start planning for her second birthday!
I also have to say thanks to my dad, who kindly took photos of the party while I was busy entertaining the guests. He took all of the photos of Maddie shared in this post!
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 18 cupcakes
(Slightly adapted from Simple Bites)
For the cupcakes:
- 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup homemade pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
For the frosting:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar (optional)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch fine sea salt
Begin by baking the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a muffin pan with paper cupcake cups and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, and brown rice syrup. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the pumpkin puree.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and gently stir until the dry ingredients are all incorporated into the batter.
Scoop approximately 1/4 cup of batter into each cupcake cup. Bake the cupcakes for 18 – 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Continue to mix on medium speed until all of the ingredients are well incorporated and the frosting is smooth.
Frost the cupcakes once they have cooled completely.