A Match Made in Fall Flavor Heaven: Pumpkin & Gingerbread

chocolate gingerbread cupcake pumpkin cream cheese frosting fall flavors cupcake recipe Trader Joe's

Last Halloween, my husband and I hosted a themed dinner party, with a menu full of rich foods like aged french mimolette cheese, lemon-mascarpone stuffed dates wrapped in prociutto, and lacquered short ribs.  For dessert, I wanted to finish with something a bit lighter and more refreshing, and opted for gingerbread cookie ice cream sandwiches, filled with smooth and delectable Dreyer’s Pumpkin Ice Cream. This year, since the pumpkin-gingerbread combo was so delightful, I’ve scoured my cookbooks and favorite websites to put together this gingerbread cupcake with pumpkin cream cheese frosting.

This recipe is not for the faint of heart – the flavors in this cupcake are strong and decadent.  If you prefer something a bit more mild in terms of molasses, or maybe you’re a busy mom and want something a little easier, try Trader Joe’s boxed Gingerbread Mix and top with the same pumpkin cream cheese frosting.  Most of these ingredients were purchased at Trader Joe’s, which makes for nice, one-stop shopping! Enjoy!

chocolate gingerbread cupcake pumpkin cream cheese frosting fall flavors cupcake recipe Trader Joe's

Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes (a combination recipe adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts and Martha Stewart’s Cookies):

makes 12 cupcakes


  • 1/4 c pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c unsulphured molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 TB freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 c unbleached flour
  • 1 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c boiling water
  • about 6 oz dark chocolate, cut into 1/4 inch chunks


  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cocoa powder.
    chocolate gingerbread cupcake pumpkin cream cheese frosting fall flavors cupcake recipe Trader Joe's
  3. In an electric mixer, beat pumpkin puree, sugar and fresh ginger until well incorporated.  Add molasses and egg and beat until smooth.
  4. In a separate cup, dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water.
  5. Add half of flour mixture to mixer, mixing just until combined. Beat in baking soda mixture, then finish with the other half of the flour mixture. Stir in chocolate pieces.
    chocolate gingerbread cupcake pumpkin cream cheese frosting fall flavors cupcake recipe Trader Joe's
  6. Use scoop to portion batter into cupcake liners.  Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating once, until the cupcakes are slightly springy to the touch.  Cool for 3 minutes in the muffin pan, then transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack.

Note: the original Moosewood recipe calls for 1/4 c of butter, which I completely omitted and substituted canned pumpkin for in an attempt at a slightly healthier version.  You don’t miss the butter at all, and the canned pumpkin really keeps things moist.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting:


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cold
  • 5 TB Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter
  • 1 TB softened butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (measure, then sift into bowl)


  1. Have the cream cheese cold. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, pumpkin butter, and regular butter until blended. Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat just until smooth and the desired consistency. If frosting is too stiff, beat for few seconds longer. Do not overbeat.
    chocolate gingerbread cupcake pumpkin cream cheese frosting fall flavors cupcake recipe Trader Joe's
  2. To finish, use a piping bag to frost cupcakes.

Clever Halloween Costumes

Halloween is quickly approaching and I wanted to share some costume ideas that we used last year. After a discussion with a friend who introduced me to the idea of a “conceptual” costume, my husband and I decided we wanted to be clever in our costume undertaking.  These creative costumes are derived from popular phrases and take a relatively abstract idea and conceptualize it.  Best of all, they are easy to make from items you may already have at home and are super inexpensive and thus, very thriftycrafter friendly.

clever creative homemade halloween costumes inexpensive

My husband was a chick magnet.

Here’s what you need:

  • Black shirt and pants
  • Plastic Barbie dolls from the Dollar Tree or 99 cent store
  • Magazine cut outs of hot chicks (from Maxim/Stuff)
  • Safety pins

creative clever conceptual homemade halloween costumes inexpensive

Here’s what you do:

Use safety pins to attach barbies and magazine cut-outs to your man, who is dressed in black.  Voila!  Easiest costume ever! In addition, you could spray paint a shoe box black and attach it to his back so the magnet concept is more obvious, but most everyone understood and loved his costume without it!

Cost: $8 for 7 barbies and a box of safety pins at the 99 cent store

I was a deviled egg.

Here’s what you need:

  • white strapless dress (I used a white terry cloth beach cover-up I already had)
  • large piece of yellow fabric (I used leftover felt)
  • devil’s horns and tail (and a pitchfork, if you have one)
  • safety pins

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cut out a large oval shape from your piece of yellow felt to represent an egg yolk and use safety pins to attach to the front of your dress.
  2. Wear devil’s horns, pin a tail on, wear some red patent heels and go wild with your hair.  Voila! Still kinda sexy and clever…a powerful combo!

Cost: Free! (because I used leftover scrap fabric from making my dog’s costume)

Note:  If you don’t already have devil’s horns or tail, but have red scrap fabric, pillow stuffing and a headband like I did, you can very easily fashion these items on your own.  Here’s how:

creative clever inexpensive homemade halloween costumes
  1. Draw out a horn shape on a piece of paper first, then copy to your fabric (I used leftover red felt – something less stiff would be easier to turn out but might not stand up as well) .  Cut out two. Then, flip your original shape horizontally to mirror your design, trace and cut out two more.
  2. Stitch each horn along outside edge, leaving bottom portion open.  Turn out and stuff with pillow stuffing.
  3. Hand sew the base of each horn closed, then spot tack one horn to your elastic headband.  Look in a mirror to check spacing and angulation, then sew the second one on.
  4. For the tail, fold your fabric in half and draw a tail shape onto your fabric.  Pin and cut out two tail shapes.  Stitch tail along outside edge, leaving base open.  Turn out and stuff with pillow stuffing.
  5. Hand sew the base of the tail closed and use a couple of safety pins to attach to the back of your dress.

These costumes are only two ideas, but the opportunities are endless!  Time to get creative!