These brown butter pumpkin cupcakes topped with a toasted brown sugar swiss meringue are the perfect fall dessert! They're like pumpkin pie in cupcake form!
You just need a few simple ingredients to make these brown butter pumpkin cupcakes!
- Cake flour - I always use cake flour in my cupcakes because it makes them super soft and tender, but all purpose flour also works great!
- Brown butter - My favorite ingredient of all time is brown butter!! Brown butter is just unsalted butter that has been melted and gently cooked to bring out a toasty, nutty flavor. If you've never made brown butter before, you can check out this post with all my tips for how to make brown butter!
- Pumpkin pie spice - You can buy pumpkin pie spice at most grocery stores, or just make your own!
- Pumpkin puree - I almost exclusively use Libby's Pumpkin because it really is the best of the best! A ton of people have run blind taste tests comparing different brands of pumpkin puree, and Libby's is always the winner!
The complete list of ingredients and amounts is located in the recipe card below.
How to Make Pumpkin Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the brown butter, brown sugar, eggs, and, vanilla together until combined. Then stir in the pumpkin puree.
Then stir in the flour mixture and mix until fully combined. The batter will be thin.
Pour about ¼ cup of batter into each cupcake liner (they should be about halfway full).
Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.
Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
How to Make Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue
Swiss meringue is cooked lightly over a double boiler before whipping which adds stability to the meringue and also makes it safe to eat!
To make meringue, you really need a stand mixer. A hand mixer will do in a pinch, but be forewarned that your arm will get tired!
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the brown sugar and cream of tartar into the egg whites then set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about two inches of simmering water over medium heat. Do not let the bottom of the egg whites bowl touch the water. Whisk the whites and sugar constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture has thinned out (about 3-4 minutes). If using an instant thermometer, it should read about 160°F.
- Place the bowl on the stand mixer and fit with the whisk attachment. On medium-high speed, beat the mixture until soft peaks form. Then add in the vanilla extract and beat on high until stiff peaks form and the meringue is no longer warm to the touch, at least 10-15 minutes. If it’s still not reaching stiff peaks, stop the mixer, place the bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes, then return to the mixer and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
Note: Depending on the type of bowl you use, it may take longer for the swiss meringue to cool. A stainless steel mixer bowl is best (they cool the fastest and are the most heatproof)!
Pipe the swiss meringue on top of the cupcakes and toast with a culinary blowtorch!
Tips for the Best Baked Goods
Use room temperature ingredients! Always make sure ingredients like butter, eggs, milk, yogurt, etc. are at room temperature before baking (unless the recipe indicates otherwise)! This ensures they'll incorporate into the batter more easily and leads to overall better texture. Remove all ingredients from the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before baking for best results.
Measure your flour correctly! It's most accurate to use a kitchen scale, but if you're measuring by volume you want to spoon and level! Fluff up the flour a bit with a spoon, and then spoon flour into the measuring cup. Once it's overflowing, use the back of a knife to level it off. Don't ever pack flour into the measuring cup or you'll end up with way too much! Improperly measured flour can lead to dry, dense baked goods. [Measure cocoa powder the same way!]
Use an oven thermometer! Just because your oven says it's 350, doesn't mean it is! If you oven hasn't been calibrated recently, it can be as much as 30 degrees off, which will negatively affect all baked goods from cakes to macarons! An oven thermometer is the easiest/cheapest way to ensure your oven is always at the proper temperature.
Make sure you baking powder is fresh! Baking powder is important for helping baked goods rise properly, but it has a relatively short shelf life once opened, so it's one of the few items I never buy in bulk! To test if your baking powder is still fresh, add a small amount to boiling water. If it bubbles it's still good to use, but if not it's time to toss it!
Cupcake Decorating Tips
- Make sure you let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting!!
- To decorate all of my cakes and cupcakes, I use this Wilton Decorating Kit and I love it! It’s super easy to use and has a ton of tips in different sizes. To pipe the meringue on these pumpkin cupcakes, I used the 1M tip.
- Once the meringue is piped, use a culinary blow torch to lightly toast the meringue.
These cupcakes will last in the fridge for up to 3 days. However, they taste best when served at room temperature! I like to let them sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving.
I highly recommend getting a culinary blowtorch to toast the meringue for these cupcakes. But if necessary, you can place them under the broiler for about 30 seconds, just be careful because the meringue will burn quickly.
Tips for Success!
For best results I always recommend using weight measurements (especially when baking) because it's the most accurate. Kitchen scales are super affordable and also reduce the number of dishes you have to do! However, all my recipes also include US customary measurements for convince. Use this chart to convert measurements for common ingredients!
Substitutions: In all my recipes, I've included substitutions that I know will work, but I cannot guarantee results if you substitute ingredients that I have not recommended. [For example, granulated sugar and honey are indeed both sweeteners but they have very different properties so they can not always be swapped 1:1. Using honey in a cookie recipe that calls for granulated sugar will yield a giant mess.] In the recipe card you'll find links to the specific ingredients/brands that I use.
A note on salt: I almost exclusively use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt because it's the best all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If you're not using kosher salt, consult this handy guide for a conversion chart! When in doubt, if you're using table salt just reduce the amount by half for baked goods. When cooking, I prefer to under-salt because you can always add more! If you've over-salted, adding a little bit of acid (like lemon juice) can help.
More Recipes You Might Like
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Brown Butter Pumpkin Meringue Cupcakes
Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue
- 5 large egg whites, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 ½ cups light brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the brown butter, brown sugar, eggs, and, vanilla together until combined. Then stir in the pumpkin puree.
- Then stir in the flour mixture and mix until fully combined. The batter will be thin.
- Pour about ¼ cup of batter into each cupcake liner (they should be about halfway full).
- Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.
- Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue
- Create a double boiler by bringing 1-2 inches of water to a simmer in a small saucepan.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (make sure your bowl is heat safe - stainless steel is best), whisk the brown sugar and cream of tartar into the egg whites then set the bowl over your double boiler. Do not let the bottom of the egg whites bowl touch the water.
- Whisk the whites and sugar constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture has thinned out (about 3-4 minutes). If using an instant thermometer, it should read about 160°F.
- Place the bowl on the stand mixer and fit with the whisk attachment. On medium-high speed, beat the mixture until soft peaks form. Then increase the speed and beat on high until stiff peaks form and the meringue is no longer warm to the touch, at least 10-15 minutes.
- If it’s still not reaching stiff peaks, stop the mixer, place the bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes, then return to the mixer and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
- Frost cooled cupcakes. I used a Wilton 1M tip for these photos.
- After frosting, use a culinary blow torch to lightly toast the meringue.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.