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!
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.
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
- 1 cup pumpkin puree, canned
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup oil of choice (olive, canola, melted coconut or avocado)
- 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
- 1 large egg (or 2 additional tablespoons of water)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger, ground
- 1/4 teapsoon nutmeg, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- Pinch ground clove
Chai Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 block (250g) original cream cheese
- 1/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted (or maple syrup to taste)
- 1/4 cup soft margarine or butter
- 2 tablespoons milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch each of nutmeg, all spice, clove and cardamom
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a muffin pan or use cupcake liners.
- In a food processor, add all the wet ingredients, except the egg. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Stir in the wet mixture from the food processor and the egg. Stir until combined.
- Spoon the mixture equally into 9 cupcake liners or muffin tins.
- Bake for 20 minutes of until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry.
For the Frosting
- In a food processor, add all the frosting ingredients and process until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Try the frosting and adjust to taste, adding more dates or maple syrup as needed.
- Using a knife, spread the desired amount of frosting on each cupcake. Alternatively, use a piping bag to add the frosting.
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!