Any time I manage to make a substitution for oil, eggs, or butter in a dessert, it's a happy day for me. Pumpkin purée (which has a similar consistency to applesauce) is actually the perfect ingredient to use as a substitute for oils and fats in baking. The end result is an incredibly moist cupcake that has the fiber and health of pumpkin without the fat and calories of oil. With such a healthy cream cheese cupcake, this recipe allows for a slight splurge on the frosting.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line cupcake molds with paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.*
Add the pumpkin purée. Depending on the consistency of your pumpkin purée, you may need to add anywhere from 1-1 ½ cups of pumpkin purée. If your purée is fairly watered down, go with slightly less. If you've drained your purée and it is fairly thick, go with more.
Beat in the vanilla extract.
Divide the mixture up evenly, and place in cupcake papers. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, then set aside to cool.
In a clean bowl, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Add the butter and mix well, using an electric mixer, for 3-5 minutes. You will likely need to repeatedly scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula during this process.
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, spoon the frosting into a piping bag and frost the cupcakes.
Garnish with walnuts and serve.