Pumpkin spice cupcakes or muffins – either way this grain-free date-sweetened recipe is the perfect fall snack or frosted dessert!
Or muffins. They can pull off the frosting-free look quite flawlessly too.
I posted these chocolate cupcakes last week, and judging by the remake rate since I think we can agree that cupcakes are quite possibly the most perfect dessert form. Chic. Shareable (or not). Less work than a cake. More frosting than a muffin. And actually healthy with a little date-sweetening savvy.
However I got a lot of questions asking for a grain-free option. WHICH I AM THRILLED ABOUT. Not because I had a ready and tested answer, I didn’t (although I do now!) But because I am obsessed with grain-free baking at the moment (a. it makes me feel good and b. almond flour is the best thing ever), and clearly I am not the only one. I was worried you wouldn’t be on board with the subtle oat → grain-free shift that has been taking place around here, but it seems many of you are. And I cannot even tell you how happy that makes me!
So. We are not just fall-ifying those cupcakes today, but switching up the flour situation too. Swapping from oat flour to almond flour is not just a straight, simple, 1-for-1 thing. On the one hand oat flour is very dry/absorptive and starchy/sticky, whereas almond flour is incredibly moist and not sticky at all.
That means some extra ingredients and amount adjusting is necessary…
More flour. Bottom line is you will need more dry and less liquid in the batter when baking with almond compared to oat. For this recipe that means adding an extra 1/4 cup of flour and leaving out the non-dairy milk.
Tapioca starch. Like I said, almond flour is not sticky and therefore not very good at binding on it’s own. That is where tapioca starch comes in. It is just the gluten-free “glue” these cupcakes need. Too much will turn them gummy, but just a couple of tablespoons holds things together without ruining the lovely crumb texture inside.
Nut/seed butter. This new addition is optional, but recommended. The batch I tested without is just a bit more…delicate. Like if you dropped one of each out of a second story window the one without nut butter would splat onto the pavement in more pieces than the one with nut butter. Yes, I think that’s the best way to describe it. Any kind of nut or seed butter will work, I personally used cashew butter because that’s what was in front on the shelf.
Not too complicated, right? And I promise well worth the adjusting because they turned out even more moist and tender and dare I say sweeter too somehow. This almond flour stuff is magic I tell you!
Now comes the part where we address how these aren’t chocolate but orange squash-ed and spectacularly spiced instead. Everything is getting the pumpkin treatment lately, muffincupcakes are not immune. Pumpkin puree blended with the dates makes up the base of this batter, and a generous teaspoonful (or 2…or 3!) of pumpkin pie spice…gah I could snack on them every day. Oh wait, I have for the past week now. But I could happily keep this snack streak going. And they already have my car snack stamp of approval too.
Frosting. If you want to go the cupcake route (because you’ve seen the quote, and these muffins are believers), there are a few frosting options…
I used my go-to coconut butter glaze, but popped it in the fridge for about 5 minutes after stirring everything together so it solidified enough to spread. Very easy, but very coconutty in flavor.
You could also use my vanilla sweet potato frosting to really up the fall feels even more. Not as simple, but low fat and really delicious to have leftovers of plus a spoon.
Happy muffincupcake making to you, friends!
Cupcakes or muffins – either way this grain-free date-sweetened recipe is the perfect pumpkin spice snack or frosted dessert!
- 1 cup pitted medjool dates ((about 12))
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk ((or water))
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tsps pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/4 cups almond flour ((*see notes for oat flour option))
- 2 tbsp tapioca starch ((can sub cornstarch or arrowroot))
- 1/4 cup nut/seed butter ((I used cashew))
Coconut Butter Frosting (see above for other frosting options)
- 1/4 cup coconut butter
- 1 tbsp maple syrup ((optional))
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3–4 tbsp non-dairy milk
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a blender of food processor, combine the dates, non-dairy milk, and pumpkin. Blend until well combined with minimal chunks remaining.
- Add the rest of the cupcake ingredients.
- Blend again until just combined.
- Divide the batter between 6 muffin tins that have been lightly oiled or lined with paper liners. Fill each so it is level with the top of the pan. Smooth the tops.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350F.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting.
- For the frosting, melt the coconut butter. Combine melted coconut butter with maple syrup and vanilla. Slowly add the non-dairy milk until creamy and pour-able (it may seize up at first, just keep stirring and adding milk). Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes or until thick and spreadable like frosting.
- Frost the cupcakes. Garnish with pumpkin seeds. Enjoy!
For the oat flour option: Replace the almond flour and tapioca starch with 1 cup oat flour.