Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chai Cream Cheese Frosting

Today, I’m happy to be sharing a delicious holiday treat:  Pumpkin cupcakes with chai cream cheese frosting.

Yes, I said CHAI cream cheese frosting.

Here’s the thing. Most of the recipes you’ll find here are vegan/vegetarian, sweetened with fruit and made from unprocessed food. Sometimes though, we need to treat ourselves a bit. For that reason, I decided to make us a little treat for the holidays.

Don’t get me wrong, these pumpkin cupcakes are still far healthier than most cupcake recipes you’ll find out there. The cupcake itself is not only made with whole wheat flour, but it’s also sweetened with dates. You’ll also find some healthy fats, pumpkin puree and of course, an abundance of pumpkin spice. This results in a moist and delicious high-fiber cupcake with no added sugar. What I added on top is the real treat. 

I wanted to add a cream cheese frosting and I spent some time trying to figure out a way to make it a little healthier. I thought about yogurt, cashews, coconut cream…. But in the end, I decided to go with real cream cheese. It’s not something I often have, but I wanted to make this recipe extra special for the holidays. Trust me, it’s such a delicious addition to this cupcake! Cream cheese and pumpkin go perfectly together.

To take it to the next level, I added some chai spices to the frosting. And guys!? It’s the best cupcake I’ve ever had! Sugar-free or not! 

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chai Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chai Cream Cheese Frosting

If you’re vegan, don’t worry, you can still enjoy these little pumpkin cupcakes! I did try them once without the egg and believe me, they turned out very similar to the original. I simply added 2 additional tablespoons of water to compensate for the loss of moisture from the egg. I know water won’t do the same as an egg in baking, but due to the pumpkin puree and dates, the cupcakes turn out equally moist and delicious. They still raised similarly to the egg-version as well. To make them vegan, you would also have to use vegan cream cheese. Or you could easily omit the frosting and eat them like muffins. I mean, they’re basically muffins with frosting. 

As for a gluten-free version, I haven’t tested one yet. However, they’re based off my pumpkin bread recipe, which originally uses buckwheat flour. That being said, feel free to try them with the same amount of buckwheat flour. 

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chai Cream Cheese Frosting

Shaun and I have been going a little crazy for these cupcakes. Shaun has asked for spoonfuls of cream cheese frosting on its own… I don’t blame him, it’s the best part!

These cupcakes would be the perfect (secretly healthy) addition to any Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. I made some last weekend and we enjoyed them while putting up our Christmas tree. Yes, I’m in the Christmas mood early this year! As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Christmas music by our Christmas tree. I have dinner in the oven and I’m waiting to eat my second pumpkin cupcake of the day for dessert. 🙂

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chai Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chai Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves 9
These delicious pumpkin cupcakes are sweetened with dates only, which makes them refined sugar-free and extremely moist. Top them with a thick layer of chai cream cheese frosting for a real holiday treat.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
50 min
Wet Ingredients
  1. 1 cup pumpkin puree, canned
  2. 1/4 cup water
  3. 1/4 cup oil of choice (olive, canola, melted coconut or avocado)
  4. 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  5. 1 large egg (or 2 additional tablespoons of water)
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Dry Ingredients
  1. 1 cup + 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  5. 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  6. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  7. 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  8. pinch ground clove
Chai Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. 1 block original cream cheese (250g)
  2. 1/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted (or maple syrup to taste)
  3. 1/4 cup soft margarine or butter
  4. 2 tablespoons milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  7. Pinch each of nutmeg, all spice, clove and cardamom
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a muffin pan or use cupcake liners.
  2. In a food processor, add all the wet ingredients, except the egg. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Stir in the wet mixture from the food processor and the egg. Stir until combined.
  4. Spoon the mixture equally into 9 cupcake liners or muffin tins.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes of until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry.
For the Frosting
  1. In a food processor, add all the frosting ingredients and process until smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. Try the frosting and adjust to taste, adding more dates or maple syrup as needed.
  3. Using a knife, spread the desired amount of frosting on each cupcake. Alternatively, use a piping bag to add the frosting.
Notes
  1. The frosting in the recipe is very lightly sweetened. If you're use to sweeter recipes, you may need to increase the amount of dates or add maple syrup to taste. Make the frosting, taste it and adjust before adding it to the cupcakes!
  2. To make this recipe vegan, use vegan cream cheese and substitute the egg with 2 additional tablespoons of water.
  3. To make it gluten-free, you can try substituting the flour for equal amounts of buckwheat flour.
  4. Unused frosting can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week in an airtight container.
  5. Keep the decorated cupcakes in the refrigerator. They can also be stored in the freezer.
Unsweetened Caroline http://www.unsweetenedcaroline.com/
If you try this recipe, make sure to tag your photo #unsweetenedcaroline on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Don’t forget to also tag me @unsweetened.caroline on Instagram so I can see your creations!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Sarah | 17th Nov 17

    Hey, Caroline! Thanks for the recipe. Is it possible to use coconut flour, almond flour, or any other gluten free flour, or will that ruin the outcome of the cupcakes?

    • Unsweetened Caroline | 17th Nov 17

      Hi Sarah, the recipe is based on my pumpkin bread, which is made with buckwheat flour. You can try substituting the whole wheat flour for buckwheat flour if that’s something you use? I haven’t tried them with other gluten-free flours. My guess is that coconut or almond flour would result in a dense cupcake. But it may still be good! Let me know if you try it. Hope this helps. 🙂

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