Raw Recipe: Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Vanilla Icing & Ginger Caramel

Recipes from The Kitchn

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Among the surprises in my first year of being gluten-free has been my growing enjoyment of raw desserts. I love how simple they can be to assemble and often find them more texturally satisfying than gluten-less baked goods. These raw spiced pumpkin cupcakes are filled with autumn goodness and yet are free of many allergens like grains, dairy, eggs, nuts, and refined sugar. And did I mention they're topped with coconut vanilla icing and ginger date caramel?!

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If you aren't familiar with raw desserts I do feel the need to tell you that these aren't carb-y and cake-y like traditional cupcakes. But they are still totally scrumptious! Made from a base of pumpkin puree, pumpkin seeds, and coconut flour, they are soft and moist and reminiscent of a denser pumpkin pie filling. In addition to the seasonal pumpkin, they are spiced with the quintessential flavors of fall — cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves. A mini-sized raw cupcake makes a great sweet snack, while a large cupcake is a filling dessert.

I top the cupcakes with a layer of coconut vanilla icing made with rich, creamy coconut butter. You can stop there, or go the extra distance and pipe on an easy "caramel" made from Medjool dates and a hit of fresh ginger juice, which cuts through some of the sweetness.

One of the great things I love about raw desserts is how adaptable they often are. You can sweeten to taste with a range of different sweeteners, adjust spices as desired, and swap out the pumpkin seeds for another nut or seed flour. Make these cupcakes your own and enjoy!

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Raw Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Coconut Vanilla Icing and Ginger Date Caramel

Makes 8 large or 20 mini cupcakes

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (see Recipe Notes)
1 cup pumpkin puree (store-bought or homemade for truly raw)
3/4 cup maple syrup, coconut nectar, or agave nectar (see Recipe Notes)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup coconut flour
1 batch Coconut Vanilla Icing (Recipe below)
1 batch Gingered Caramel (Recipe below)

Place the pumpkin seeds in a food processor, coffee/spice grinder, or high-performance blender such as a Vitamix. Pulse until you have a floury consistency. (Avoid over-grinding or you may end up with pumpkin seed butter!) Set aside.

Combine the pumpkin puree, sweetener, lemon juice, vanilla, sea salt, and spices in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the pumpkin seed flour and blend until smooth. Add the coconut flour and blend until well combined.

Line a cupcake tin with 8 large or 20 mini paper liners. Fill the liners with dough, pressing it down evenly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 4 days (can also freeze for up to 2 weeks; transfer to an airtight container if refrigerating or freezing for longer than a day).

Just before serving, spread Coconut Vanilla Icing on top of each cupcake. Using a pastry bag, pipe Ginger Date Caramel on top of the icing.

Recipe Notes

  • Pumpkin Seed Flour: Pumpkin seeds make a great nut-free flour for this recipe. If you prefer, you may substitute 1 cup of sunflower seed flour or a nut flour such as cashew or almond.
  • Sweetener: I prefer maple syrup, but it isn't a raw food. For a strictly raw recipe, use raw coconut nectar or agave nectar.

Coconut Vanilla Icing

Makes about 1/2 cup

1/2 cup room temperature coconut butter (see softening tips)
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup, coconut nectar, or agave nectar (see Recipe Notes)
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir with a fork to combine.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Soften to room temperature before using.

Ginger Date Caramel

Makes about 1/2 cup

8 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon ginger juice (squeezed from freshly grated ginger)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Maple syrup, coconut nectar, or agave nectar to taste (optional; see Recipe Notes)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. If desired, add additional sweetener to taste.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Note: You probably won't use the entire batch to decorate the cupcakes, but I find it easier to blend and pipe a batch of this volume. Use any leftover caramel on oatmeal, as a dipping sauce for cut fruit, etc.

Per serving, based on 4 servings. (% daily value)
Calories
724
Fat
45.4 g (69.8%)
Saturated
20.2 g (101.1%)
Trans
0.9 g
Carbs
71 g (23.7%)
Fiber
14.7 g (58.8%)
Sugars
43.5 g
Protein
14.5 g (28.9%)
Cholesterol
61 mg (20.3%)
Sodium
370.2 mg (15.4%)

(Image credits: Emily Han)