Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Kahlua Chocolate Frosting (Vegan)
Today I am 26. This morning I woke to my husband — wide awake — whispering wake up, don’t you want to see your presents? My eyes hadn’t even opened yet. Presents? I mumbled. You didn’t get me presents. You never get me presents! I rolled over to nestle into the crook of his shoulder, throw my arms over him, draw the white comforter over us.
I got you presents, don’t you believe me?
I shook my head, smiling, my hair falling over my face and onto his chest.
There are three presents in the living room. Two on the table by the door, and one on the record player.
I rubbed my eyes, laughing.
Get up! Go see what I got you!
Drawing myself out of that warm, delicious bed felt like getting out of a heavenly bath. Every morning, it’s like that.
You didn’t have to get me gifts! We never do this! I said, putting on my purple silk robe and heading into the living room. I didn’t have my contacts on yet, so I blindly found the first bouquet of white and purple alstroemeria on the table by the door, alongside a paper carton of figs.
And on the record player, another bouquet of blossoms: pink and orange roses, hypericum berries, dark purple leucadendron aka “safari sunrise,” solid aster, and big glossy mums in yellow and mauve.
I stuck my face in both of them before running back to my room to jump on Logan and kiss his face all over.
I picked you the squishiest figs. I made sure they were all perfect. No tight skinned figs allowed on birthdays.
Sometimes I wonder to myself if I’m living in a dream world. If somehow I’ve imagined this life into being. I have thoughts like that mostly in the morning, when I first wake up, when I’m watching him sleeping. Or in the kitchen, while he’s carefully measuring coffee. Or after he’s made me have a snort-laugh fit that makes it impossible for me to laugh or breath or get up off of the floor. He makes me feel worthy of such grace and beauty and love on normal days and birthdays alike. Every day he reminds me that the heart of joy lives in love. That being totally present with your person is heaven.
Which brings me to one of my favorite mantras as of late, which I stole from a semi-ok indie movie.
I’m happy. I’m thankful for happiness. Could you send more of that my way, universe/Great Spirit/God/Mido-chlorians?
More gratitude in advance.
Now onto these pumpkin spice cupcakes with kahlua chocolate frosting. Aka basically a coffee & rum spiked truffle on top of moist, fluffy, autumn spiced clouds. It's the only birthday dessert worthy of the glorious, early-Fall chill in the air.
I originally made these cupcakes with einkorn flour. Because it’s my birthday and einkorn is one of my favorite things. But you can make it with white spelt as well. They’re interchangeable. I haven’t tried it with a gluten free mix yet, but I’m guess that Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose will work well. I’ll update you on my experiment with that soon.
By the way, you don't have to use pumpkin in these “pumpkin spice” cupcakes. Pumpkin itself isn’t really that interesting. Why not use a more flavorful squash or tuber? I've made these with butternut squash and sweet potato puree. Both are great. Both are impossibly to differentiate from pumpkin in the final cupcakes.
You could even try kabocha, which has a natural creamy sweetness. Or blue-skinned hubbard squash, which is often the squash you’re getting in your canned “pumpkin puree” anyway.
If you want to make fresh squash puree, here's how: Preheat the oven to 400F. Halve your squash and scoop out the seeds. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet (for easier clean-up) for 25-35 minutes, until the squash is meltingly soft and fork-tender. You may need more or less time depending on the size of your squash. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before handling. Scoop the flesh out of the skin with a spoon. Then either mash with a fork or puree in a blender, depending on your smoothness/laziness preferences. I personally prefer to blend the cooked squash flesh right into the liquid ingredients of my recipe. That way the liquid ingredients are being distributed in the dry mix evenly.
P.s. I'm on a podcast today with Jessica Murnane of One Part Plant! Head over there to hear about "What Freaked My Week" wherein we mostly just geek out about the dude who just won American Ninja Warrior.
- 1.5 cups white spelt or einkorn flour
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup evaporated cane sugar (or more coconut sugar)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon chia
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- pinch sea salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1 cup pumpkin puree OR any winter squash puree OR sweet potato puree
- 1/4 cup unsweetened nut milk
- 1 inch fresh ginger, pressed in a garlic press
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Fill a standard muffin tin with parchment muffin liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: white spelt flour, coconut sugar, evaporated cane sugar, baking powder, chia, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and sea salt.
- In the bowl of a high powered blender, combine the vanilla extract, coconut oil, vinegar, pumpkin puree, nut milk, and ginger. Blend on high until the mixture is creamy and even.
- Scrape the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold the wet mix gently into the dry mix until the batter is moist, glossy, and even.
- Set aside for 10-15 minutes (this helps moisten and saturate the flour and chia).
- Scoop two heaping tablespoons of batter into each muffin liner.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes on the center rack until the cupcakes are golden and a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely (to room temperature, at most 75F) before frosting.
- Frost and nosh.
- 4 tablespoons Kahlua
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 10 tablespoons coconut cream (skimmed from the top of 2 chilled cans of full fat coconut milk)
- 6 ounces 60% dark chocolate chips
- pinch salt -- to taste
- Combine the Kahlua, vanilla extract, and coconut cream in a small sauce pot.
- Heat for 1-2 minutes on low heat.
- Remove from the heat.
- Add the chocolate chips and stir once. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- The chocolate chips should have softened and melted into the liquid ingredients. Stir everything together again until glossy and even.
- Set a piping tip into the end of a plastic piping bag. Scrape the frosting out into the piping bag (I usually set the piping bag into a tall glass, folding the edges of the bag over the cup to hold it in place).
- Chill for 8 hours or overnight. (I set the cup with the piping bag directly into the fridge to cool.)
- Once the frosting is set, cut the tip off of the piping bag, pipe the frosting onto your cupcakes and enjoy!
- [i]You can also simply scrape the frosting into a bowl to chill for 8 hours or overnight and then spoon the icing onto the cupcakes. [/i]