Kid-friendly Perfect Pumpkin Mug Cake with Cinnamon Vanilla Whipped Cream Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Perfect Pumpkin Mug Cake with Cinnamon Vanilla Whipped Cream

Recipe: Perfect Pumpkin Mug Cake with Cinnamon Vanilla Whipped Cream

Perfect Pumpkin Mug Cake with Cinnamon Vanilla Whipped Cream

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Natasha McCone and Kate Bezak
prep time
10 minutes
cook time
2 minutes
1-2 servings

Fun Food Story

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Perfect Pumpkin Mug Cake with Cinnamon Vanilla Whipped Cream

This fall treat can be made so quickly and easily in the microwave that you might even want to make it year-round!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • crack :

    to break open or apart a food to get what's inside, like an egg or a coconut.

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • microwave :

    to heat or cook food or liquid quickly in a microwave oven, which uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves to generate heat in the food's water molecules.

  • shake :

    to rapidly and vigorously move a covered container filled with food up and down and side to side to combine ingredients and create a different consistency, such as shaking whipped cream to make butter.

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

Equipment Checklist

  • Microwave
  • Microwave-safe mug
  • Potholder
  • Paper towel or dish towel
  • Can opener
  • Measuring spoons
  • Small whisk or metal spoon
  • Container or jar with tight-fitting lid
  • Liquid measuring cup


Perfect Pumpkin Mug Cake with Cinnamon Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • Pumpkin Mug Cake:
  • 3 T all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub all-purpose gluten-free/nut-free flour)**
  • 1 T oats, optional for texture and nutritional punch **(Omit for GLUTEN ALLERGY or use certified gluten-free oats)**
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 T pumpkin purée
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor—check label)**
  • 1/2 T honey or agave syrup
  • 2 T milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk)**
  • 1 egg **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1 T flaxseeds + 3 T warm water—more info below)**
  • Cinnamon Vanilla Whipped Cream:
  • 1/4 C heavy cream **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free heavy cream OR coconut cream from top of full-fat coconut milk can)**
  • 1 T powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor—check label)**
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Food Allergen Substitutions

Perfect Pumpkin Mug Cake with Cinnamon Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour. Omit optional oats or use certified gluten-free oats. Use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor. 
  • Egg: For 1 egg, substitute 1 T flaxseeds + 3 T warm water. Stir and soak flaxseeds in warm water for 5 minutes or until fully absorbed and thickened.
  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk. Substitute dairy-free/nut-free heavy cream OR coconut cream from top of full-fat coconut milk can.


Perfect Pumpkin Mug Cake with Cinnamon Vanilla Whipped Cream

measure + whisk

Kid chefs will start with the mug cake. In a microwave-safe mug, they can measure and whisk together 3 tablespoons flour, 1 tablespoon oats (if using), 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice, and 1 pinch salt.

measure + crack

Have kids measure and add 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 tablespoon honey, and 2 tablespoons milk to the mug. Then, crack 1 egg into the mug and mix thoroughly.

cover + microwave + rest

Cover mug with a damp paper towel or dish towel and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Don't worry if the mug cake grows above the top of the mug. It will shrink back down! Carefully remove the mug with a potholder and let the cake rest for at least 5 minutes while the kids make the whipped cream.

measure + add

In a container or jar with a tight-fitting lid, kids can measure and add 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

shake + serve

Have kids shake the container until the liquid stops sloshing. Ask the kid chefs what might happen if they shake it too long. (It will turn into butter!) Serve the Perfect Pumpkin Mug Cake with a dollop of Cinnamon Vanilla Whipped Cream.

Surprise Ingredient: Pumpkin!

back to recipe
Photo by Irina Wilhauk/

Hi! I’m Pumpkin!

"I'm orange, round, like to sit on your porch making faces in the Fall, and I'm good to eat! I'm a pumpkin! Of course, not all pumpkins are orange. We can be white, red, yellow, tan, blue, dark green, and even black! We're not always round, either! We might be tall and oblong or short and squat. We love it when families come to the pumpkin patch to pick out their favorite pumpkin to take home!"


  • The pumpkin is a winter squash that is believed to have originated in Central America. Seeds from pumpkins were found in the highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico, dating back to 7000 to 5500 BCE, about 9,000 years ago! 
  • Now, pumpkins are grown on six continents. The only continent that can't grow pumpkins is Antarctica!
  • Native Americans were eating pumpkins for centuries before European colonists arrived. They ate pumpkin seeds, used them as medicine, and made mats from flattened and dried strips of pumpkins.
  • Archaeologists have found pumpkin residue among the 800-year-old ruins of the Ancestral Pueblo people. 
  • A pumpkin is not the same as a Jack-o-Lantern. A pumpkin is only a Jack-o-Lantern once it's carved! Carving pumpkins into Jack-o-Lanterns is a tradition that started hundreds of years ago in Ireland. The Irish used to carve turnips, but when Irish immigrants arrived in North America and found pumpkins aplenty, they began to use those instead. 
  • Pumpkins were once endorsed as a remedy for freckles and snake bites. As if we need a cure for freckles!
  • According to Guinness World Records, Stefano Cutrupi of Italy harvested the heaviest pumpkin on September 26, 2021. His humongous pumpkin weighed over 2,702 pounds.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Why are pumpkins orange? Before a pumpkin matures, it's green in color due to the presence of chlorophyll, a green-pigmented nutrient required for the pumpkin to absorb and use sunlight for energy and food. However, as a pumpkin matures, it develops phytonutrients called "carotenoids," which give a pumpkin its bright orange color. 
  • The stem of a pumpkin is often referred to as its "handle."
  • Thin, hairlike "tendrils" are often attached to the pumpkin's stem. As it grows, the pumpkin's tendrils cling to the vine and are green in color. These tendrils attach to and wind themselves around fences, posts, other plants, and objects on the ground to anchor the vine and protect the plant from the wind. 
  • Leaves grow on the pumpkin's vine and absorb sunlight to provide energy for the plant and its fruit.
  • We collectively refer to the pumpkin's outer skin and inner fruit as the pumpkin's "shell." Ribs are the indentations around the outside of the pumpkin's shell. 
  • The meat of the pumpkin is called the "pulp," or sometimes affectionately referred to as "pumpkin brains!" Attached to the pulp are lots of pumpkin seeds that can be cleaned, dried, and roasted with salt (delicious!). The inner part of each pumpkin seed contains a nut (technically, the "germ" of the seed), and this is what eventually develops into a new pumpkin. 
  • The word "pumpkin" originated from the Greek word for "large melon," which is "pepon." The French called it "pompon." The English used "pumpion." And, American colonists changed "pumpion" into "pumpkin."  

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • A pumpkin is used as a vegetable in cooking, but it's actually a fruit! It's a member of the Cucurbita family, which includes squash and cucumbers. 
  • Pumpkin flowers and seeds are edible.
  • Undoubtedly the most popular recipe that uses pumpkins is pumpkin pie. But pumpkin pulp can be used for everything from baked goods to soups to ice cream, pudding, and even beer!
  • You can store uncut pumpkins for up to 60 days in a cool, dark place!


  • Pumpkins contain potassium, vitamin C, soluble fiber, and beta carotene. 
  • Vitamin C and beta carotene are two powerful antioxidants that help protect cell membranes and the immune system. 
  • Potassium is good for circulation and healthy blood pressure, and it's great for bones. It also helps take blood pumped from hearts through arteries and veins to muscles and organs.
  • Beta carotene is great for the health of our eyes! The body takes beta carotene and converts it to vitamin A, which our eyes need to stay healthy. When this happens, it signals the immune system to create white blood cells, which help the body fight off infection. 
  • Soluble fiber is so good for our digestive systems! Fiber also helps slow the absorption of blood sugar into our tissues.


COOLinary Cake Science!

Photo by Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/
  • Flour Provides the Base of the Recipe: Flour gives structure to the cake. The gluten or protein in flour combines to form a web that traps air bubbles and sets. The starch in flour sets as it heats to add to and support the structure.
  • Fat Holds it All Together: Fat coats the gluten molecules so they cannot combine as easily, contributing to the cake's tenderness. In many cakes, fat also contributes to the fluffiness of the final product. When sugar is creamed with fat, small pockets of air form from the sharp edges of the crystals interacting with the fat. These pockets form a finer grain, making the cake soft and tender when baked. Fats also carry delicious flavors over your tongue and taste buds!
  • Sugar is Sweet and Tender: Sugar adds sweetness and contributes to the cake's browning. Sugar tenderizes a cake by preventing gluten from forming. Sugar also holds moisture in the cake. Sugar crystals cutting into solid fats like butter help create the cake's structure by making small holes filled with carbon dioxide (CO2) when the leavening agents react.
  • Eggs Equal Texture: An egg is a leavening agent, and the yolk adds fat for a tender and light texture. The yolk also acts as an emulsifier for a smooth and even texture. The proteins in the egg white (albumen) also contribute to the light structure of the cake. 
  • Liquids Lift and Lighten: Liquids help to carry flavorings throughout the cake, form gluten bonds, and react with the starch in the protein for a strong but light and tender structure. Liquids also act as steam during baking, becoming another leavening agent to help make the cake rise.
  • Salt Adds Flavor and Weight: Salt strengthens the gluten and adds flavor. Salt enhances all flavors, including a sweet cake!
  • Rise Up! Baking Soda and Baking Powder: Baking soda and baking powder are leavening or rising agents. These make the cake puff up! They form CO2, which is held by fat pockets, gluten, and starch, making the baked cake rise. Too much leavening agent will make the bubbles too big, causing them to combine and burst, leading to a flat (sad) cake or bread. Too little leavening agent will produce a heavy (dense) cake with soggy or damp layers. Measure everything just right, and your cake will be perfect every time! It's science!

Let's Learn About the United States!

Photo by JeniFoto/ (July 4th Picnic)
  • Most of the United States of America (USA) is in North America. It shares its northern border with Canada and its southern border with Mexico. It consists of 50 states, 1 federal district, 5 territories, 9 Minor Outlying Islands, and 326 Indian reservations. 
  • The country's total area is 3,796,742 square miles, globally the third largest after Russia and Canada. The US population is over 333 million, making it the third most populous country in the world, after China and India.
  • The United States of America declared itself an independent nation from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, by issuing the Declaration of Independence.
  • The Revolutionary War between the US and Great Britain was fought from 1775-1783. We only had 13 colonies at that time! On September 9, 1976, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and declared that the new nation would be called the United States. 
  • The 13 colonies became states after each ratified the constitution of the new United States, with Delaware being the first on December 7, 1787.  
  • The 13 stripes on the US flag represent those first 13 colonies, and the 50 stars represent our 50 states. The red color of the flag symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes innocence and purity, and blue symbolizes vigilance and justice.
  • Before settling in Washington DC, a federal district, the nation's capital resided in New York City and then Philadelphia for a short time. New York City is the largest city in the US and is considered its financial center. 
  • The US does not have a recognized official language! However, English is effectively the national language. 
  • The American dollar is the national currency. The nickname for a dollar, "buck," comes from colonial times when people traded goods for buckskins!
  • Because the United States is so large, there is a wide variety of climates and types of geography. The Mississippi/Missouri River, running primarily north to south, is the fourth-longest river system in the world. On the east side of the Mississippi are the Appalachian Mountains, the Adirondack Mountains, and the East Coast, next to the Atlantic Ocean. 
  • On the west side of the Mississippi are the flat Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains (or Rockies), and the West Coast, next to the Pacific Ocean, with several more mountain ranges in coastal states, such as the Sierras and the Cascades. Between the coasts and the north and south borders are several forests, lakes (including the Great Lakes), rivers, swamps, deserts, and volcanos. 
  • Several animals are unique to the US, such as the American bison (or American buffalo), the bald eagle, the California condor, the American black bear, the groundhog, the American alligator, and the pronghorn (or American antelope). 
  • The US has 63 national parks. The Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, and the Grand Canyon, with the Colorado River flowing through it, are among the most well-known and visited.
  • Cuisine in the US was influenced early on by the indigenous people of North America who lived there before Europeans arrived. They introduced beans, corn, potatoes, squash, berries, fish, turkey, venison, dried meats, and more to the new settlers. Other influences include the widely varied foods and dishes of enslaved people from Africa and immigrants from Asia, Europe, Central and South America, and the Pacific Islands. 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in the United States?

  • Education is compulsory in the US, and kids may go to a public or private school or be home-schooled. Most schools do not require students to wear uniforms, but some private schools do. The school year runs from mid-August or the beginning of September to the end of May or the middle of June.
  • Kids generally start school at about five years old in kindergarten or earlier in preschool and continue through 12th grade in high school. After that, many go on to university, community college, or technical school. 
  • Spanish, French, and German are the most popular foreign languages kids learn in US schools. 
  • Kids may participate in many different school and after-school sports, including baseball, soccer, American football, basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, and track and field. In grade school, kids may join in playground games like hopscotch, four-square, kickball, tetherball, jump rope, or tag.
  • There are several fun activities that American kids enjoy doing with their friends and families, such as picnicking, hiking, going to the beach or swimming, or going to children's and natural history museums, zoos and wild animal parks, amusement parks, water parks, state parks, or national parks. Popular amusement parks include Disneyland, Disney World, Legoland, Six Flags, and Universal Studios.
  • On Independence Day or the 4th of July, kids enjoy a day off from school, picnicking, and watching fireworks with their families. 
  • Thanksgiving is celebrated on the last Thursday in November when students get 2 to 5 days off school. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are popular December holidays, and there are 2 or 3 weeks of winter vacation. Easter is celebrated in March, April, or May, and kids enjoy a week of spring recess around that time.  
  • Barbecued hot dogs or hamburgers, watermelon, apple pie, and ice cream are popular kid foods for 4th of July celebrations. Turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie are traditional Thanksgiving foods. Birthday parties with cake and ice cream are very important celebrations for kids in the United States!

Lettuce Joke Around

How does a cat make whipped cream?

With its WHISKers!

THYME for a Laugh

I named my dog Cinnamon!

He's a lot of bark!

That's Berry Funny

What is a pumpkin's favorite sport? 

Squash! (like racquetball)

The Yolk's On You

The date on my vanilla must have expired.

It just doesn't make any scents!

Lettuce Joke Around

Who helps the little pumpkins cross the road to school?

The Crossing Gourd!

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