Desserts

October 25, 2021

Plant-Based Maple Pecan Cupcakes with Oil-Free Maple Frosting

Plant-Based Maple Pecan Cupcakes are a decadent, sweet, fall-themed dessert. Top these gluten-free cupcakes with a delicious oil-free maple frosting.

Plant-Based Maple Pecan Cupcakes with Oil-Free Maple Frosting

Cupcakes that are completely plant-based, oil-free, and refined sugar free that also taste amazing?? Yes please. And bonus: they are fall flavored. Maple and pecan is an incredible flavor combination that combines sweetness and buttery fat. SO good.

These cupcakes are made from completely whole food ingredients. The cake itself has chickpeas, which create a super rich cupcake. Don't worry though, you can't taste the chickpeas at all - they have a neutral flavor and only contribute to the beautiful cake texture.

And the frosting is plant-based too! Plant-based frosting is a bit of a challenge. I've made chocolate frosting in the past - I use sweet potatoes and add cocoa powder, but when I tried to make a vanilla frosting with just sweet potatoes, the flavor tasted too much like potatoes. So I used a mixture of cashews and sweet potatoes - cashews add some richness from the fat and help mask the sweet potato flavor.

The result is a creamy, thick frosting that tastes sweet and delicious.

Why I love Plant-Based Maple Pecan Cupcakes

  • Dietary needs — this recipe is plant-based, oil-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free
  • Perfect treat— these cupcakes have tons of good-for-you ingredients with fiber and nutrients for a healthy and tasty breakfast, snack, or dessert
  • Fall flavors — maple and pecan is a classic fall combo and wow do those ingredients bring great flavor

Plant-Based Maple Pecan Cupcakes with Oil-Free Maple Frosting

Ingredient Notes

Cake

  • Chickpeas: Chickpeas are what give these cupcakes their rich and moist texture. Make sure to drain and rinse your chickpeas well, to remove any strong bean flavor.
  • Pecan Butter: Pecan butter is just a nut butter made from pecans. Blend pecans in the food processor until they form a nut butter. See formal instructions below. Alternatively, you can use almond or cashew butter, but you won't get as much of a pecan flavor.
  • Maple Syrup: For sweetness.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Oat Flour & Almond Flour: Oat flour creates a moist, dense cupcake and almond flour lightens up the texture. Don't skip either one, they balance each other out.
  • Salt
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda
  • Chopped Pecans: For a bit of extra flavor you can roast the pecans ahead of time. Otherwise, use raw pecans.

Frosting

  • Cashews: Cashews add fat (and therefore flavor) to the frosting. When you soak them and blend them into a puree they help thicken the frosting too.
  • Maple Syrup: for more maple flavor and sweetness.
  • Sweet Potato: The sweet potato is what makes this frosting super creamy. Use a baked and mashed Japanese or white sweet potato - both of these potatoes have neutral flavor so they won't affect the flavor of the frosting.
  • Lemon Juice: For some tang. Lemon juice helps mimic the taste of a cream cheese frosting.

Plant-Based Maple Pecan Cupcakes with Oil-Free Maple Frosting

How to make Pecan Butter

Pecan butter, like all nut butters, is super easy to make at home. All you need is a blender or food processor.

Nuts have natural oils which make them so much easier to blend. To activate the oils you'll want to heat your pecans in the oven. I usually roast mine at 350 for 5-10 minutes until they are just starting to brown and they become fragrant.

Then just throw the nuts in the food processor and blend until smooth. Since pecans have such a high fat content they will blend easily and you should have your pecan butter in a matter of minutes!

Let the pecan butter cool to room temperature before you use it in this recipe.

Plant-Based Maple Pecan Cupcakes with Oil-Free Maple Frosting

How to make Plant-Based Maple Pecan Cupcakes with Oil-Free Maple Frosting

Step 1. Soak the cashews in boiling water. Set aside while you bake the cupcakes.

Step 2. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with liners.

Step 3. Add all the cake ingredients to a food processor. Process until the chickpeas are blended fully and all the ingredients are combined.

Step 4. Spread into the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean and the cups feel firm to the touch.

Step 5. Let the cupcakes cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.

Step 6. Drain the cashews. Add the cashews and maple syrup to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Then add the remaining ingredients and blend again.

Step 7. When the cake is cooled, pipe or spread the frosting on top of each cup. Serve and enjoy!

Plant-Based Maple Pecan Cupcakes with Oil-Free Maple Frosting

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are there chickpeas in the cupcakes?

Chickpeas are the perfect secret cupcake ingredients. They add a rich, moist texture but they don't add any weird flavor. I promise you'll never notice the chickpeas in there.

Can I use a bean besides chickpeas?

I highly recommend you use chickpeas. Chickpeas are soft but still dense. Another white bean might work but you'll probably need to add more flour to compensate for the extra moisture.

Can I use a nut butter instead of pecan butter?

Yes. You can use almond butter or cashew butter instead. You'll lose some of the pecan flavor though.

Do I have to use both oat and almond flour? Can I sub a different type of flour?

I highly recommend you use both oat and almond flour. Oat flour alone would make these cupcakes too dense. Almond flour adds some fat and helps lighten the texture.

If you want, you could sub gluten-free all purpose flour for the oat flour. And coconut flour for the almond flour. I haven't tested these combinations so you may need to experiment with the exact liquid to dry ratio.

Does the frosting taste like sweet potato?

Nope. Once you add cashews, maple syrup, and lemon juice you won't even notice any sweet potato taste.

Can I turn these cupcakes into a cake?

Yes - you'll need to increase the baking time significantly. I've made a cake with similar ingredients to these cupcakes and the bake time was around 90 minutes.

Plant-Based Maple Pecan Cupcakes with Oil-Free Maple Frosting

Recipe Prayer

Thank you God for these cupcakes. Thank you for giving us desserts that taste great and give our bodies the nutrients they need. Allow these cupcakes to fuel our bodies. Amen.

Related Recipes

Want other recipes featuring plant-based frosting? Try these next:

Tried this recipe?

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Plant-Based Maple Pecan Cupcakes with Oil-Free Maple Frosting

Plant-Based Maple Pecan Cupcakes are a decadent, sweet, fall-themed dessert. Top these gluten-free cupcakes with a delicious oil-free maple frosting.

Author:

Elizabeth

Serves:

12

Prep:

30

min

cook:

30

min

total:

60

min

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 15-Ounce Can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 Cup Pecan Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Oat Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans

Frosting

  • 1 Cup Cashews
  • 1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 Cup Japanese or White Sweet Potato, baked and mashed
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice

Instructions

  1. Soak the cashews in boiling water. Set aside while you bake the cupcakes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with liners.
  3. Add all the cake ingredients to a food processor. Process until the chickpeas are blended fully and all the ingredients are combined.
  4. Spread into the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean and the cups feel firm to the touch.
  5. Let the cupcakes cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.
  6. Drain the cashews. Add the cashews and maple syrup to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Then add the remaining ingredients and blend again.
  7. When the cake is cooled, pipe or spread the frosting on top of each cup. Serve and enjoy!
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November 15, 2021
Elizabeth | The Plant-Based Catholic
Hi Becky - thanks for pointing this out. I have removed mention of vegetable broth from this post. You do not need any vegetable broth. The mushrooms will release natural liquid which will prevent any sticking.
November 15, 2021
Becky
You mention using vegetable broth in your introduction but it isn’t included in the recipe
September 23, 2021
Tracy Henry
Hi Elizabeth, LOVE you recipes. Please keep them coming. :)I was wondering, can you share what is the vegan chocolate bar you used in this recipe?
August 28, 2021
Henry (Hank) Mader
thank you for the oil free recipe. I'm getting introduced to wild Bolete mushrooms here in Colorado, and everyone sautes Bolete's in butter or olive oil. I'm on a veggie, oil free regimen for heart health reasons. and your recipe suggestion may fill the bill. I can't wait to give it a try.
August 13, 2021
Lindsey Kuhn
This is so fun! Loving your creamy photography :)
August 13, 2021
Lindsey Kuhn
This looks incredible! So yummy and pretty photography