Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes for the Lonely Hearts Club


They were supposed to help a mother dull the ache of a brother who’s missing his two thirds.

My ordinarily sweet almost four year old is confused. And plain ole angry. Suddenly, his world has changed and he’s feeling out of sorts. He wakes up, and all is well. Then he notices Mom is slipping Z-bars into their backpacks at 7 o’clock in the morning. He protests. She reminds him that they are “for later.” Everyone has eaten breakfast, got dressed, brushed teeth, and put away pajamas, so he’s distracted when we are all allowed to snuggle in close to watch Wild Kratts together on the couch. But not a minute after it’s over, they leap from the couch and his company, walk down the driveway, hop onto a really cool bus, and speed off to this magical place called school, where he, in his understanding, is not invited.

The past two days have been rough for him. Sad even.

I guess from his perspective, I’d be confused and angry too.

So yesterday, I planned a special day for him.

I took my littlest nature lover to explore at the Arboretum. He chose and led our adventures. There were many smiles and laughs, especially when I surprised him with a lemon Gelato sweetie.

We came home and I asked him to pick out a movie to snuggle up, watch, and rest. Afterwards, we made our favorite fall-ish treat:Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting. {recipe below}

But despite all of my efforts, I had to drag my sweetie to first grade parent information night instead of putting him to bed early like he needed. My husband was off coaching both of our older boys soccer teams, who happened to have soccer practice at the same time on the same night.{If only parents could saw themselves in half.}

By the time we got home, though only 6:45, his mind had erased our special day. I put him to bed in tears to many “I HATE YOU”s. It’s a strong set of words for a four year old, but I know it’s not really directed at me. He’s telling the world – “PISS OFF!” “I WANT MY BROTHERS BACK!”

It’s hard to hear, but I get it. And maybe tomorrow, when HE finally gets to go to school, he’ll start to understand. But if not, at least I have cupcakes to numb the empathy I have in my heart for him.


Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes {by Silvana Nardone for Everyday With Rachel Ray Magazine}

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting {by me}

Cupcakes {makes a dozen}

  • 1 8-ounce package of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs & 1 egg white, seperated
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree {not pumpkin pie filling}
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil

Place a rack in the lower third of your oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with baking cups. In your stand mixer, beat the cream cheese & powdered sugar together for 3 minutes. Add the egg white and vanilla. Beat again to combine.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and salt. In a seperate bowl, beat together the pumpkin pie puree, 2 whole eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, sugar, and oil. {With a hand mixer, or clean out your stand mixer.} Slowly add the dry flour mixture to the pumpkin puree mixture and beat until just combined.

Layer a large spoonful of pumpkin batter on the bottom of a baking cup. Add a large spoonful of cheesecake batter, and then another large spoonful of the pumpkin batter. Bake 25 minutes, or until the cupcakes are springy to the touch. Allow to cool completely.


  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 8-ounce package of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

Combine the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in a bowl of a stand mixer. Add the brown sugar and cornstarch, and mix until combined. While the mixer is running on low, slowly add the powdered sugar until the frosting comes together. Place the frosting into a gallon sized bag, clip off the corner, and pipe liberally onto the cooled cupcakes.

LOVE pumpkin? So do I!

Check out my other favorite pumpkin recipes by clicking the images below!

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