Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla-Salted Caramel Glaze

Pumpkin Spice and Chocolate and Salted Caramel and Vanilla. Dear God, am I dreaming? No, Dear Abby, this is real life.

Ok, I know I love all of my recipes and I definitely tell you all that frequently, because first, I created these recipes myself, and second, they're like my kids. BUT THIS RECIPE IS AMAZING. Even CK, who is a giant cake a cupcake snob, and will stray away from a paleo diet any day to have a wheat, gluten, dairy, and sugar filled cupcake was smitten with these. Yes, smitten.


These cupcakes almost didn't even happen. In July, when first started thinking of possible pumpkin recipes for 2015, this one came to me in a dream. Really. Is it too much of a stretch to say that these cupcakes were heaven-sent? Maybe, let's go with it. When I sat down to figure out how to make them, I just couldn't get the frosting and salted caramel glaze to have the right texture, and after nearly 4 hours of trying to figure out how to get these fall flavors to come together, I almost gave up.


But then, I realized that maybe instead of a fluffy frosting with a salted caramel drizzle, I should just combine the two and make a glaze. From then on, making these cupcakes made a whole lot more sense, and tasted absolutely delicious. Truly. These will be gone in a day. Or a couple hours. I won't tell.

Happy Pumpkin Spice Season!

Some baker's notes:

  • The pumpkin spice flavor in these cupcakes is somewhat subtle, so if you like your pumpkin spice stronger, add 1-3 teaspoons more of pumpkin spice. Up to you.
  • If you like your salted caramel extra salty, add more salt garnish. Adding more salt to the caramel sauce will draw the water out from the sauce, making the caramel watery and impossible to work with. You've been warned.
  • The caramel sauce really needs to be made the same day as you assemble the cupcakes.
  • The frosting and cupcakes can be made in advance, as long as they are stored in the fridge; the cupcakes themselves are so moist that they are definitely prone to going bad quickly.
  • I used pyramid salt for these cupcakes, but any flaky salt will do.

chocolate pumpkin spice cupcakes with vanilla-salted caramel glaze

Makes 12


For the cupcakes: 

  • 6 eggs
  • 4 tbsp. coconut sugar
  • ½-cup liquid coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • ¾-cup dairy-free and soy-free chocolate 2 tbsp. coconut flour
  • 1/2 pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. coconut flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda

For the salted-caramel glaze:

  • 1 can (8 oz.) coconut cream
  • ½ cup light flavored maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or ghee if sensitive to dairy proteins)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. pyramid salt or flaky sea salt, set aside

For the vanilla glaze: 

  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 can (8 oz.) coconut cream* (coconut cream, not milk) 

To make the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in a cupcake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, add eggs, coconut oil, vanilla, and coconut sugar. Stir until well incorporated and slightly fluffy. Add in pumpkin puree and mix well.
  3. Stir in pumpkin spice and cinnamon and mix until well incorporated. Batter will be slightly lumpy due to the pumpkin puree.
  4. Slowly add in baking soda and coconut flour, and stir until batter has thickened slightly.
  5. Fill cupcake tins with batter until 2/3 of the way full.
  6. Bake on the middle rack for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes clean.
  7. Let cupcakes cool before topping with glaze and caramel.

To make the vanilla glaze:

  • In a large bowl, place coconut cream, vanilla, and maple syrup. Whisk until well incorporated, then set aside, or whisk in a kitchenaid on high for 2 minutes.

*Note that this glaze is meant to be just that: a glaze instead of a frosting. If you prefer a frosting, I suggest using this recipe here.

To make the salted caramel sauce:

  1. In a large saucepan, add coconut cream and syrup. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer.
  2. Let simmer, and add vanilla, butter, and a dash of sea salt.
  3. Continue to simmer on low heat, constantly stirring. Let reduce until thick and the mixture reduces and boils down, taking on a caramel color and a caramel consistency, about 30 minutes. Make sure to stir frequently or almost constantly, especially near the end as it is prone to sticking and burning.

For cupcake assembly:

  1. Dip each cooled cupcake into the vanilla glaze.
  2. Spoon 1 tsp. salted caramel sauce onto each glazed cupcake, near the center.
  3. Garnish with flaky salt and enjoy. Store in the fridge if not eaten immediately.