2. Beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper.
3. Add the eggs 1 at a time to the butter & sugar mixture, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.
4. Distribute the batter among the cupcake liners fill them 3/4 full. Tap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely.
While the cupcakes are baking, get your frosting going!
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small cubes
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp instant espresso powder (I used that Starbucks Via stuff)
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1. Beat the butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment for about 1 minute on medium, until it's smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until the mixture is smooth and lump-free.
2. Dissolve the espresso powder in the vanilla, and then add this to the mixture. Add the maple syrup and continue beating until smooth and well blended. If the frosting isn't firm enough to work with you can stick it in the fridge for a bit.
3. You can either pipe the frosting on (I used a ziplock with the corner snipped off), or just slather it on. Try not to eat it all before it makes it to the top of your cupcakes. I also dusted a bit of nutmeg on the top, but cinnamon or raw sugar would also look nice.