This is the final installment of our “Pumpkin Pizzazz” (with Jazz!) series and I am just as sad to see it end as you are. It’s been a fun, exciting and, most of all, tasty journey creating unique and unexpected recipes that are also college-friendly — all having been conceived by a nearly broke, lazy and busy college student herself.

But at least we will be leaving things on a good note (hopefully the best one yet), as I will be concluding this pumpkin-centric series with a special treat … one that is both delectable and completely doable using just your everyday coffee cup or mug. What I present to you is the pumpkin spice cupcake with cream cheese frosting — the reward following a hearty meal, the ultimate seal of a deal, the “icing on the cake.” When you try this recipe for yourself (which we really hope you do), you’ll understand why people say to save dessert as the best for last.

Week 3: Dessert — Pumpkin Spice “Cup” Cake

Cupcakes are the epitome of happiness, holding a lusciously soft cake inside an adorably designed cupcake liner and affectionately topped off with a wispy swirl of sweet frosting that just screams, “You know you want to eat me!” But who’s got time to go and buy a muffin pan, cupcake liners and an electric mixer when you’re already on a budget and extremely busy in college? That’s exactly what makes this joyful little indulgence such a knockout in comparison to a regular conventional cupcake — it’s literally a cupcake … or a cake in a cup (with no oven needed)!

It is quite possible that this irresistibly fluffy and not-too-sweet-but-just-sweet-enough pumpkin spice cupcake, complete with a velvety layer of absolutely heavenly cream cheese frosting, could have been made using ingredients you have sitting around your food pantry all along — with the exception of the canned pumpkin, as this fruit-vegetable hybrid usually only appears in our kitchens during the magically festive holiday season. The best thing about this recipe is that it excludes those hassling dry ingredients (namely, baking powder, baking soda and salt) and instead replaces them with the life-changing-and-saving self-rising flour. Now that you have been “edu-caked” about this wonderful recipe, you can finally use that embarrassing, old, “Grandma Loves You” mug you have hiding in the back corner of your cupboard to whip up something all of your roommates will be jealous of.

10 MIN 15 MIN 1


…irresistibly fluffy and not-too-sweet-but-just-sweet-enough pumpkin spice cupcake, complete with a velvety layer of absolutely heavenly cream cheese frosting


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

½ cup sugar

½ egg

½ cup canned pumpkin puree

½ cup self-rising flour

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

¼ cup buttermilk or ¼ cup of milk and ½ teaspoon of white vinegar


¼ cup crushed walnuts

¼ cup raisins


½ cup cream cheese

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Cream the softened butter and sugar together until you get this delightful little dough that you can’t help but dip your finger into.
  2. Plop in the half of an egg and stir until you get a mixture that you sadly cannot lick anymore.
  3. Beat in the final half cup of pumpkin puree from that giant can of pumpkin you first bought three weeks ago for our pumpkin quesadilla recipe, followed by the stupendously time-saving self-rising flour.
  4. Pour the buttermilk into the batter and you’ll thank that sour-smelling substance later for making your cupcake be the softest thing you’ve ever tasted; smells are deceiving — unless if it’s actually rotten milk (See Ops poll, page 7).
  5. To take your cupcake to the next level, fold in the walnuts for a crunch that will make you want to munch.
  6. Finally, zap your masterpiece in the microwave for about three minutes, then give it some time to cool down (and here you can take the time to calm yourself down as well from all of the excitement — it’ll be done soon, I promise!) before vamping it up to a whole new level of flavor with the cream cheese frosting.
  7. For frosting, beat the cream cheese with the butter and stop when they are fluffy like the clouds.
  8. Whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and voila — the icing on the cake!
  9. As a final celebration, sprinkle on some extra chopped walnuts and pumpkin pie spice, then indulge yourself with this unforgettable pumpkin spice cupcake while fondly recollecting the fantastic memories you have made with the fruit-slash-vegetable that is the pumpkin these past three weeks.

Don’t forget about “Pumpkin Pizzazz” just yet. Send us a pic of your fabulous work of cake if you decided to make this scrumptious recipe — we’d love to see it and you could have a chance of getting your photo published in our next issue! Also, stay in the loop with our YouTube channel @HighlanderTV to watch the third and final episode of “Pumpkin Pizzazz.”