Maple Pumpkin Cupcakes

I developed a passion for vegan baking over this past summer.

It all started when I received a call from a frustrated mom trying to find a baker willing to create a dairy-free wedding cake for her daughter’s fall wedding.  The soon-to-be groom was allergic to dairy, and the local bakeries in town weren’t willing to diverge from their safe and time-tested butter based creations.

Knowing that the couple was quickly running out of options, I was determined to find a way to make this dairy-free thing work.  After all, everyone deserves to eat delicious cake at their wedding!

I ended up finding some great inspiration in an eclectic, funky little cookbook called Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.  With this book I developed a completely new and unexpected appreciation for vegan baking…the idea of not having to crack any eggs to make cupcakes was totally revolutionary to me!

If you enjoy baking and haven’t ever tried going the vegan route, I highly suggest trying it…at least once.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how amazing baked goods can taste when using non-traditional, plant-based ingredients like soymilk and vegetable oil spread.  And if you enjoy classic fall flavors like pumpkin and maple, regardless of whether you are vegan or not, this is the recipe for you!

Only use the best maple syrup you can find here.  I used a grade A syrup from Canada for my cupcakes as this is the time you should definitely forgo that bottle of Mrs. Butterworth’s and go for the real stuff.  Grade A maple syrup is lighter and milder than Grade B syrup, so its taste and quality are ideal for this recipe.  Grade A maple syrup will really shine though when not heated or cooked, making it perfect for adding into this buttercream.

As I always do, I substituted a good amount of cornstarch for powdered sugar in this buttercream recipe.  Maple syrup is already pretty sweet, so the cornstarch addition will help to stiffen up the buttercream while preventing the frosting from becoming cloyingly sweet.  Feel free to add extra cornstarch, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you get your desired consistency.

Pumpkin and maple are a glorious match here, and with a warm dusting of cinnamon and toasted walnuts these autumn-inspired cupcakes will make your fall celebrations complete.  A cup of cinnamon or spiced tea will pair nicely with these tea time treats.

Maple Pumpkin Cupcakes

Makes 10 cupcakes.


{Pumpkin Cupcakes}

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup white sugar

1/4 cup soymilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

cinnamon and toasted walnuts for finishing

{Maple Buttercream}

2/3 cup maple syrup, preferably Grade A

3/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (at room temperature)

3/4 cup Spectrum Naturals Organic All Vegetable Shortening

1 cup soy milk powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup cornstarch, or more for a stiffer frosting


wire mesh sieve

cupcake pan

cupcake liners

cooling rack

pastry bag

large decorative piping tip


1.)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix together all the wet cupcake ingredients and sugar in a medium bowl, then sift together all the dry ingredients in large bowl.

2.)  Slowly add thoroughly blended wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Mix until all ingredients are just moistened.

3.)  Place liners in cupcake tin and spoon a level 1/4 cup of batter into each liner.

4.)  Bake cupcakes for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

5.)  After removing cupcakes from oven, wait a few minutes and then transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack.

6.)  While cupcakes are cooling, make the maple frosting.  Cream vegan buttery sticks, shortening, and soy milk powder together in a large bowl, then slowly add in the maple syrup and vanilla extract.  The mixture will look slightly curdled.  Gradually add in powdered sugar and cornstarch and mix in thoroughly.  If you prefer, add more cornstarch, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach a desired frosting consistency.

7.)  Pipe frosting on completely cooled cupcakes using a pastry bag and decorative tip.  Dust cupcakes with cinnamon and top with toasted walnuts.

Adapted from Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes and Creamy Maple Frosting recipe in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

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This post has given me so many eureka moments. The best being substituting cornstarch for powdered sugar. I’ve always found the buttercream recipes out there to be over-the-top sweet and I’ve always assumed that I’m just doing it wrong. I’m definitely going to try this recipe. After all, I do have that bottle of grade A maple syrup just sitting there 🙂 Gorgeous blog, by the way. And thanks for stopping by my blog!


Thank you swisspris! Yes, when I write about adding cornstarch into buttercreams I can imagine the baking purists out there nodding in disapproval, but it really works! Hope you like the cupcakes, and let me know how they turn out for you! =) I’m still thinking of your siu yook picture…ahh!


Can this recipe be made with soy milk, rather than soy powder? If so, how much soy milk should be used?


Hey there! The soy milk powder is there to add a boost of creaminess without thinning the frosting. So what I would do is to completely remove it. Alternatively, you could add 2 Tbsp of the soy milk, then increase the cornstarch by 1/4-1/2 a cup (start with the lesser amount and add gradually until you get the desired consistency). It won’t taste exactly the same, but it should still complement the pumpkin cupcake base. Hope this helps! =)