For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with orange paper liners.
Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat; cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter browns, 6 to 9 minutes. Immediately transfer to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the granulated sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla.
Whisk the all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a large bowl. Add the brown butter mixture and whisk until just combined (do not overmix).
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups, filling them three-quarters of the way. Bake until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then remove to a rack to cool completely.
For the frosting: Beat the butter and salt with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the confectioners' sugar, about 1 cup at a time. After each addition, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy again, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the milk, vanilla and orange food coloring and beat until smooth.
To decorate: Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes with a round pastry tip. Level off the top with an offset spatula to an even and smooth layer. Next, use a toothpick or small skewer to create "grooves" in the frosting to look like a pumpkin. Insert a chewy chocolate quarter in the top of each cupcake to look like a "stem" and drape the green sour gummy belt candy to look like a "vine." Repeat with the remaining cupcakes and candy. Refrigerate until the frosting is slightly firm, about 15 minutes.
For the royal icing: Whisk together the confectioners' sugar and meringue powder in a large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons water and beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until soft, glossy peaks form, adding up to 1 more tablespoon water if necessary (it should be thick but pipeable). Tint with black gel food coloring until very black. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap to prevent the icing from drying out until ready to use. (Makes about 1 cup.)
Transfer the royal icing to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Pie jack-o-lantern faces on each cupcake. Set aside until the royal icing has set, about 30 minutes.
When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods).
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