Pumpkin muffins with maple-cream cheese frosting

So I've been telling friends at work about my culinary project for the year.  Everyone has been very interested and enthusiastic, and I'm hoping to get some people contributing.  However, I think they're mostly excited about the fact that I'll be bringing my baking experiments into the office to avoid eating everything I make and gaining 200 pounds.  This recipe caught my eye when I was browsing the Smitten Kitchen website, and since I am a sucker for anything containing maple syrup, thought it would make a worthy blog recipe.  I think it could do with even more pumpkin than the ingredient list calls for, since the muffins ended up tasting like slightly pumpkin-y carrot cakes.  But the maple cream-cheese frosting is divine.  And they disappeared pretty quickly at Sunday lunch and then the next day at work around elevenses time, so I'd say they are a keeper!

Pumpkin Muffins With Maple–Cream Cheese Frosting
Taken from the Smitten Kitchen (note: this is an American recipe so be careful with the quantities)

4oz unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark-brown muscovado sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour (you can use plain flour as a substitute for cake flour, taking away 2tbsp per cup)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla (if you don't have buttermilk it is easy enough to make)
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin

For the frosting
16oz cream cheese, softened
4oz unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350° (175°C).

First, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.

Add the eggs 1 at a time to the mix, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.

Scoop the batter into muffin cases until they are about 3/4 full. Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles (no seriously, do this - I forgot, and my cupcakes ended up with quite a lot of air inside them!). Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 20 to 25 minutes). Cool on a rack completely before frosting.  Recipe should yield about 18 muffins.

For the frosting, beat all the ingredients together until fluffy.  I'd suggest making half what the recipe calls for, since I ended up with way too much icing for 18 cupcakes.  But don't be stingy with the maple syrup - it absolutely makes the recipe.

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