8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 large egg yolk at room temperature
1/3 cup finely minced candied ginger
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum (okay, okay: 2 tablespoons if you insist)
1/8 teaspoon fine table salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably one on the fruity side
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
  1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients of the cream cheese filling, mixing until it is light in texture and there are no cream cheese lumps. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two muffin tins (24 wells) with paper liners or grease well.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices, and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugars, olive oil, and eggs on medium-low for about 3 minutes or until the mixture becomes smooth and lightened in texture.
  5. Add in the pumpkin and vanilla and mix for a few seconds more to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Turn the mixer down to low. Add in half the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add in the buttermilk and mix for 10 seconds. Add in the rest of the flour and mix for 20 seconds more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full with cupcake batter. Drop a heaping teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture on top of each cupcake. Remove any unfilled cupcake liners and fill empty wells about one-third full with water so that the pan doesn't warp.
  8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans about 10 minutes into baking. They are done when the ridge between the cream cheese and the cupcake is just set and the cake (not the cream cheese) tests clean.
  9. Remove the tins from the oven (be extra careful if you filled any of the wells with water), and allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.