Gallery: Behind the Sweets: Sharin Nathan Crafts Pumpkin Cupcakes at Sweet Sensations

Sweet Sensations' Pumpkin Cupcake
Sweet Sensations' Pumpkin Cupcake

The cinnamon custard filling in this pumpkin cupcake is what sets it apart from every other cupcake you've ever had. Biting into the cupcake is almost like biting into a frosted cream puff. First your teeth sink through a luxurious cream cheese frosting, then there's a slight crust to the cupcake so you get the same subtle crunch as you get with the shell of a cream puff, and then the best part: the satisfyingly cool, creamy custard delicately spiced with cinnamon. The custard doesn't act at all like extra frosting—it's not nearly as sweet—but instead adds another dimension to the cupcake that you don't often encounter.

The Set-Up
The Set-Up

Sharin measures out all of the ingredients for the pumpkin cake before systematically combining them in the mixer. When she initially bought the bakery, she assumed she would offer one token vanilla/chocolate cupcake, but the bakery had been cupcake-focused in its former life, so she found a solid base of customers who kept wandering in asking for cupcakes. It wasn't too long after opening before she started to develop her own cupcake recipes to give the people what they wanted.

Eggs and Sugar
Eggs and Sugar

First, whole eggs are whipped for a few minutes and white sugar is slowly added.

Adding the Fat
Adding the Fat

A healthy amount of fat is added in the form of canola oil.

Pumpkin Joins the Party
Pumpkin Joins the Party

Sharin whisks pumpkin puree with a good amount of orange juice, which gives the cake a hint of fresh citrus flavor, and then adds the mixture to the other wet ingredients.

Dry Ingredients
Dry Ingredients

Finally the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices) are added to the wet. The spice profile in these pumpkin cupcakes is unique: there is no ginger at all, and instead of equal parts cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, Sharin chose to feature cinnamon above nutmeg and nutmeg above cloves. But the spices are still in small enough proportion that the pumpkin is allowed to shine as the star of this cake.

Pumpkin Batter
Pumpkin Batter

The batter ends up a beautiful orange-brown color that screams fall.

Filling the Cups
Filling the Cups

Each cupcake paper gets filled with an ice cream scoop of batter and baked.

Baked Cupcakes
Baked Cupcakes

After a few minutes, Sharin pulls the baked cupcakes out of the oven. After they cool, she'll fill them with custard.

Cinnamon Custard
Cinnamon Custard

Sharin fills roughly half of all of her cupcakes with some form of custard (she says it adds another texture and creaminess and can be the vehicle for an additional flavor). For this cupcake, a basic custard spiced with cinnamon and vanilla is added to a small hollow cut out of the cupcake.

Frosting Time
Frosting Time

For the frosting, cream cheese and butter are whipped for several minutes in the large Hobart mixer that led Sharin to this bakery.

Powdered Sugar Time
Powdered Sugar Time

When the cream cheese and butter are light and airy, Sharin adds powdered sugar. After a few bowl scrapedowns, this frosting is ready to go.

Whipped Frosting
Whipped Frosting

This cream cheese frosting is certainly sticky and substantial, but because it's whipped, it's kept from being too dense or gummy.

Frosting Time
Frosting Time

After replacing the top she cut out of the cupcake, Sharin pipes the cream cheese frosting on top. The Red Velvet and Carrot Cake flavors are also topped with cream cheese frosting while other flavors have either a chocolate ganache or Italian meringue buttercream. Of the cupcakes I tried (let's just say I tried quite a few of them), all had the unmistakeable homey flavor you get from baking from scratch.

Cinnamon Sprinkle
Cinnamon Sprinkle

A sprinkle of cinnamon is the final step. Sharin said she'll offer these until people get sick of them, which is usually around Thanksgiving. That also happens to be the time she starts offering gingerbread cupcakes.

The Finished Product
The Finished Product
Behind the Sweets: Sharin Nathan Crafts Pumpkin Cupcakes at Sweet Sensations