Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

Gluten-free pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese icing.
A new gluten-free dairy-free pumpkin cupcake recipe for Fall.

Before I get to my pumpkin cupcake recipe, I need to wander off a bit. Just briefly. Because it's who I am. A person who wanders. Ponders. Finds solace in books. I've been like this since girlhood. Curious. Serious. No good at catching balls. Or dressing dolls. I am beyond inept with hair. And eyeliner. Nail polish. I get anxious and non-verbal if I have to wear anything that isn't a pair of jeans.

It might be because I'm a child of The Sixties, that starstruck Age of Aquarius, when kindred souls united for peace, beauty, and rock and roll. As Hunter S. Thompson wrote, "You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right," and there was that "...sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave."

I've been remembering the beautiful wave lately. The idealism. The hope. The belief that there is more to life than collapsing in front of the television and microwaving hot dogs. The belief that beauty- as Steve Jobs believed- is important, has value. That we are deeply interconnected. That life on Earth is precious- from the house sparrow to the living sea. That we are part of a vast and mysterious collective- not merely of our absurd egos (who natter inside our heads and squander our attention on drama, conflict, acquisition and the need to control)- but of a newly unfolding awareness of astonishing inner space and outer space. Infinity in every direction. The Universe is far more capacious than we ever dreamed. Perhaps even multi-dimensional. A Multiverse.

Which begs the question.

Who am I? Really. I know I am not the car I drive or the laundry detergent I use. I know I am not what I identify with. I am not what I embrace- or reject. Though for years I thought so. I believed my opinions created a self. Made me Me. Now that I am old enough to have lived through countless opinion reversals, I realize opinions are temporary.

And not defining.

Just as I am not my baby teeth. Or my once lactating voluptuousness. Or my sprouting silver hair. Or what music I listen to. Or what jeans I outgrow. I am not even the woman baking pumpkin cupcakes for her readers. Or am I?

Well, maybe I am. Just a little. But wait. Doesn't that make me the sum of what I do? I bake therefore I am? I am trying lately not to be so much of a human doing. And more of a human being.

It's not as easy as one might think.

And therein lies the trouble. The whole thinking thing. Our brain. Our wired hardware. It disconnects us. It addicts us. It overrides the heart and soul of what is really going on. The being we really are. Beneath the seductive and glossy surface of things. The spark that burns from the greater whole.

I see that spark in you. In your words and comments. In your avatar's eyes.

And that spark?

It's why I made you cupcakes.


Gluten-free pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese icing.
Tender pumpkin cupcakes with creamy sweet icing. Happy Fall!

Karina's Pumpkin Cupcakes Recipe with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

Originally published October 2011 by Karina Allrich.

These moist and tender gluten-free cupcake beauties have just the right balance of pumpkin and sweetness, ginger and cinnamon. They're not too spicy. And they're dairy-free. Yay.


1 cup sorghum flour (or brown rice flour)
1 cup organic light brown sugar
3/4 cup potato starch or tapioca starch
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup
almond flour or hazelnut flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup organic coconut oil
1 cup canned organic pumpkin
2 organic free-range eggs, beaten or egg replacer*
2 teaspoons Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract

For the icing:

2 cups powdered sugar, more if needed
1/4 cup chilled vegan cream cheese (or soft dairy cream cheese)
2-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup, as needed


Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a 12-muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: sorghum flour, light brown sugar, tapioca starch, white cane sugar, almond flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, sea salt, and nutmeg.

Add in the coconut oil by pieces, cutting in with a pastry cutter or your mixer's whisk/whip attachment, until the mixture is sandy. Add in the pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla, and beat on medium high for 1-2 minutes until the cake batter is smooth and stretchy.

Spoon the cake batter into the 12 cupcake liners and smooth out the tops.

Bake in the center of a pre-heated oven for 22 to 25 minutes or so, until the tops are firm but springy. Ovens vary widely, so watch these babies and check with a cake tester if you need to.

Cool in the pan only briefly, until the cupcakes are cool enough to handle. Then remove them from the baking pan and cool on a wire rack for one hour before frosting.

Meanwhile... make your icing.

Gluten-free pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese icing.
This cream cheese icing is dairy-free and vegan.

Maple Cream Cheese Icing

I used vegan cream cheese in this icing and it worked beautifully. It is less stiff than dairy cream cheese. If you are using dairy based cream cheese, I would suggest the whipped style.

Pour the powdered sugar into a clean mixing bowl and add the cream cheese. Start beating to combine the cream cheese and sugar. Add pure maple syrup a tablespoon at a time, just until the frosting is soft and smooth. I only needed 2 tablespoons.

Beat on medium-high for a minute or two until the frosting is glossy, fluffy and smooth. Cover and chill as the cupcakes cool.

Use a clean icing knife to frost the cupcakes.

Chill in the fridge briefly to set the frosting.

To store extras:

Top each chilled/set cupcake with a square of parchment paper, then wrap, bag and freeze.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

All images & content are copyright protected, all rights reserved. Please do not use our images or content without prior permission. Thank you. 

We enjoy our sugary treats in moderation, don't we? Gluten-Free Goddess advises consuming no more than 2 tablespoons of sugar a day. 

 photo Print-Recipe.png

GFG Notes:

To replace the eggs in cupcakes I have had excellent luck using Ener-G Egg Replacer; in this recipe, replace with 1/4 cup liquid equivalent.

See my vegan cupcake recipes here.

If you prefer a buttery frosting, replace the vegan cream cheese with a good tasting vegan butter, such as Organic Earth Balance, or use organic coconut oil. Add vanilla or maple extract.

To make this recipe nut-free replace the almond flour with a medium weight flour, such as sorghum, millet, or even buckwheat.

For more substitution help, please see my guide to baking with substitutions here.


  1. I'm not sure which I like more, the cupcake photos or your words!

  2. Greaaaaat... here I was, thinking I was going to check out a great gluten-free recipe and instead I got an exercise in existentialism! : ) But I know who I am... I'm a perpetual work-in-progress, a seeker of truth, beauty and harmony, a sum total of everything I've every thought, felt, experienced. I am me.

    PS - Can't wait to try the recipe!

  3. Libby18:02

    I was looking for a pumpkin recipe, and pulled up your site! Voila! A wonderful recipe for pumpkin cupcakes. They are so delicious. They almost taste like a blend between gingerbread and pumpkin bread. Yum. I didn't put the icing on, since I didn't have any dairy-free cream cheese, and they taste fine without it! Thanks for a delightful fall recipe.

  4. Just what I've been pondering lately in my not-so-focused way. The what's this all about syndrome I loll about in regularly, but thankfully at this point in my life, not lactating voluptuously :)

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this -- the cupcakes are the proverbial cherry on the sundae.


  5. I made the frosting today and modified the cupcakes to save time. Instead, I took your idea, and bought a gluten free vanilla cake mix from Betty Crocker. I added pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and ginger to the cake mix, subtracted one egg (out of three) and 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin. They turned out amazing; soft, moist, and pull apart delicious.

    When I made the frosting using Tofutti's cream cheese substitute, my frosting didn't come out nearly as white as yours is in your picture. How did you get it so white?

  6. Going to a Halloween party and was just thinking how delightful pumpkin cupcakes would be! You have impeccable timing! Thanks so much!

  7. I was looking everywhere earlier today for a pumpkin cupcake recipe. I couldn't find one that looked good so I used your pumpkin muffin recipe and just used a buttercream icing and it was awesome! I will have to try this one out another time. My daughter and I iced with orange icing and put Halloween sugar decorations (bats, witches, etc) on top. I love pumpkin!!

  8. Anonymous01:32

    The batter to this recipe was quite stiff, more like a soft cookie dough, rather than a batter. I used large eggs, and one full cup of pumpkin. Not sure what went wrong. Next time I might add some milk to the pumpkin mixture. I live in a vey moist climate at sea level, so I didn't expect the batter to be too dry. The end result was tasty and moist, but had a muffin like consistency, and rough surface. Next time I will add a quarter cup of milk to the pumpkin. The frosting was good, but did not have much cream cheese taste so I added another two tablespoons of cream cheese. Overall a good recipe. Thanks for posting gluten free delicious recipes!!

  9. Here is my deep question of the day in answer to your deep question : If a cupcake posts on a blog, and no one is there to eat it, did it really exist at all?
    Except I'm sure these yummies were gobbled up quickly! Yumm..

  10. Scott06:17

    What a beautiful post. Thank you for inspiring me.

  11. I laughed when I read the instructions on how to save "extras" - never a problem :) especially when there are only a dozen to make my way through... yesterday was Thanksgiving up here in Canada. One of the kids brought home pumpkin pie in a box. I didn't have a second of sulking (it looked like plastic to me) instead I made apple cranberry crumble (inspired by one of your recent postings!) Grazie mille Karina - your blog is such a treat. Claudine

  12. Okay, that does it, I'm tired of saying to myself, just because it's gluten free doesn't mean you should eat it, its probably full of fat and sugar...well, so be it, its time to live a little...LOL! Once in awhile won't hurt, and so I will give these a try...thanks for the recipe, beautiful photo and the something more to think about...it made me think of the quote, I think its St. Augustine..."our hearts are restless until they rest in you"...

  13. Sweet, sweet post, Karina! On so very many levels. Thank you!


  14. Anonymous14:12

    Karina, I notice a lot of your recipes have almond flour. I am allergic is there a substitute I can use?

  15. TeenChef17:14

    How would you suggest storing these? I find baked goods always get soggy when put in plastic bags or tupperware. Thanks

  16. I feel like I just had coffee with a good friend - Thank you! I can't wait to try the cupcakes, they look so yummy.

  17. Thank you, Everyone, for your kind words and cupcake luv.


    My batter was not stiff, it was creamy and smooth- like a slightly thick cake batter (in other words, thicker than a bleached wheat flour batter). But not as thick as muffin batter.

    If for some reason (weather/humidity, change out of flours, different measuring habits, cold ingredients) your batter is really thick- you need a tad more liquid. Add a tablespoon at a time and beat well, until the batter is smooth and almost fluffy. Use an electric beater (or better yet, a stand mixer) for best results.

    If you switch out the almond flour for a grain flour, use a medium grain such as sorghum flour, or millet. You may need a tad more liquid, too, as almond flour does not absorb much liquid, but starchier grain flours will (and coconut flour needs extra eggs and liquid).

    Pumpkin puree comes in various thicknesses as well- some brands are thinner and more liquid-y.

    And last but not least...

    If a cupcake is blogged and there is no one there to eat it... did it really exist? for this wise and ponderous query I have two answers. ;-) Yes, because it was consumed by the photographer and her assistant (that would be moi + husband ;-). And second. Yes, anyway. Because a cupcake is Divine. And lives in its own universe, perfect and delectable in all its pumpkin glory.

    Where there are no calories and sweets are angel food.

    Smooches. xox

  18. And to store... as I mention beneath the recipe:

    Chill in the fridge briefly to set the frosting.

    To store extras:

    Top each chilled/set cupcake with a square of parchment paper, then wrap, bag and freeze.

    These freeze beautifully. xox

  19. love making pumpkin cupcakes!! these look great

    pure2raw twin

  20. Not to sound too ignorant, but when a recipe calls for coconut oil, should it be measured solid like you would for shortening? I have been melting it into a liquid before adding to my recipes. However yours looks like it is measured and added as a solid.

  21. Karina, you are such an inspiration. There isn't a single thing about this posting that I don't LOVE. I'm glad to know there are human beings like you in this world.

  22. LOVE this recipe! I've been longing for pumpkin cupcakes and wondering if there was a recipe out there to try and this morning I see your post... So delightful and so thankful that we are all interconnected with one another.

    You are a sweet blessing to many Karina! Thank you for sharing your talent and gifts with all of us.

  23. I can't find coconut oil ever (I'm in Ontario), can I substitute another oil?

  24. Miss P - Where are you in Ontario? Foodsmith's in Perth has Coconut oil and you can purchase from their website!

  25. Thanks, Beauties. xox

    As for coconut oil- I do not melt it. I use it solid, as shortening, cutting it into the flour mixture until sandy textured.


  26. I made your pumpkin muffins already and then found these after sigh.... Maybe tomorrow or later today lol. I'm currently taking a philosophy course for my master's program so your sidetrack as almost always was right on par with where my head is at. Thank you for your wisdom and recipes they really do make a difference.

  27. These look like perfection. My kids are going to a birthday party tomorrow and I need to bring safe cupcakes for my daughter. They all love pumpkin, as do I, so this will be a lovely alternative. Thanks again for all that you do!

  28. I am so excited to try these so that my daughter and I have alternatives at all of the many upcoming gatherings! THANK YOU for sharing.

  29. Thank you so much for your beautiful recipe as well as that poignant and breathtaking quote from Hunter S. Thompson.

    Both are inspiring.

    Hope you're having a lovely weekend. :)

  30. To keep your frosting white, be sure not to use a vanilla that is dark. Search for "clear vanilla extract" on-line. Here's how to make it http://www.ehow.com/how_5162230_make-clear-vanilla-extract.html

  31. Becky- Sorry I forgot to answer your cream cheese frosting question. I used Vegan Gourmet cream cheese- it's very white.

  32. I made these on Sunday. All the various flours and the xantham gum were so pricey...and I couldn't find the tapioca starch. I saw a woman in the store who also has Celiacs and she suggested I buy Pamela's baking mix. It has all of those ingredients in there. I used that to save money and energy trying to locate the ingredient I couldn't find. They turned out great!!! This was my first recipe of yours that I tried and I'm a huge fan. I can't wait to try more of your recipes!

  33. Karina, I just love you. That's all.

  34. Can't wait to try these, although we don't get canned pumpkin here in New Zealand so I will have to experiment with real pumpkin. I have just taken the liberty of linking to your blog on mine, and now feel much better about making my blog about more than just being gluten-intolerant. Thanks so much - I'm pleased I've found you!
    Lisa - glutenfreenz.wordpress.com - Being gluten-free in NZ

  35. I am no baker, but when I came across these pictures I couldn't say no to making them. The hardest part of the process was finding all the ingredients (2 hours and 3 supermarkets later), but it was all worth it. These cupcakes were absolutely delicious with a great texture. I couldn't keep my roommates' and boyfriend's hands off of them! Looks like I'll have to get used to this whole baking thing. Thank you thank you thank you!

  36. Hello! Just want to let you know my boyfriend and I tried your cupcake recipe this past weekend for a Halloween treat and it was a hit. The flavor was great & deep and the texture was awesome! I felt it didn't need frosting haha! My boyfriend's family couldn't believe it was gluten free! =)
    We ran out of some ingredients and had to improvise... instead of brown sugar we used 1 cup of white sugar & 1/4 cup molasses (found the conversion online) and substituted almond flour with buckwheat (which tasted great!). I was nervous about using the coconut oil because it melted in our cabinet (I'm from Hawaii and it still feels like summer) so I put it in the freezer until it solidified, worked it into the dough, crossed our fingers, and the cupcakes came out fine! =D Thank you for posting this!!

  37. Karina, thank you so much for this recipe! I made them for a friend's bachelorette party this weekend, and they were a major hit! Even the non-gluten-free/vegan crowd loved them. Awesome recipe!

  38. Oh, I really was hopeful of this recipe when I saw it was a gluten free pumpkin cupcake. Then, I saw the almond flour. I make a pumpkin cake or cupcakes every year to give to friends at Christmas (did so just this past Christmas.) This year I had some new friends and a couple of them are both alergic to gluten and nuts. So, I couldn't give them any.