Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Landscape

Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream (Vegan Gluten-Free)

Light and fluffy chai pumpkin spice cupcakes with a light vanilla buttercream and a gooey maca caramel centre. This one-bowl bake is so simple, utterly delicious and is naturally vegan, gluten-free and makes an impressive dessert.

My love for cupcakes continues into autumn and my first cosy cupcake recipe had to include chai and pumpkin spices – because I could not decide which to go for first. This hybrid may seem like an overdose on autumnal spices but it works so well and with the simple vanilla buttercream and gooey caramel centre; every bite is an autumn dream come true.

Piping buttercream on Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

What goes into these Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream?

  • Plant-based milk: this is the basis for the wet ingredients. I like to use almond milk but oat, coconut or rice milk will also work well.
  • Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar: this is an acid that reacts with the milk to form a buttermilk and bind the batter together.
  • Coconut or caster sugar: to heighten all the cosy flavours and spices, coconut sugar is my go-to but caster or light brown sugar will also be great.
  • Sunflower oil: for the texture, I prefer to use a neutral liquid oil for the fluffiest and lightest of cupcakes. You can also use a light olive oil or vegetable oil while melted and cooled coconut oil should also be fine, but I have not used this myself.
  • Maple syrup: for the lovely sticky sweetness. You can also use another syrup like agave, date, coconut or vegan honey.
  • Vanilla essence: for the flavour and with the chai and pumpkin it is quite important but the cupcakes will taste just as great without it.
  • Plain or GF plain flour: this keeps the Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream so light and springy. I like to use plain flour or a GF 1:1 baking blend with xantham gum so that the cupcakes have the best texture. You could try wholemeal or spelt flour for a slightly denser but delicious option.
  • Ground almonds: I love how this turns the texture slightly nutty and grainy – in a good way. You can tell the almonds are there and the nutty sweet flavour works really well with the spices.
  • Baking powder and bicarbonate of soda: for the rise. Cupcakes are supposed to be light and fluffy and this makes sure the little beauties rise well.
  • Chai and pumpkin spices: no need for any pre-made spice blends here. I rely on a few staple ingredients which are cinnamon, maca, nutmeg, ground ginger, mixed spice and ground clove. They all play their part for the overall flavour, but if you had to pick two or three, the cinnamon, maca and ginger are the most important for autumnal-flavoured cupcakes.
Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream and a sprinkle of cinnamon
Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
Unwrapped Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

That is all we need for the cupcake batter and in terms of method, it’s very simple. Whisk together the milk and lemon and leave for 5 minutes. Then whisk in the rest of the wet ingredients before sifting in the dry ingredients and all the spices. Divide between muffin cases and then bake until golden brown and smelling amazing.

While the Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream cool, we can move onto the gooey maca caramel:

  • Cashew butter: this has a delicious mellow, slightly sweet and nutty flavour that works so well for caramels. You can also use another nut butter like almond, pecan, peanut or hazelnut or use a seed butter like tahini or sunflower seed butter for a nut-free caramel.
  • Maple syrup: for the sticky texture of caramel. You can use any of the substitutions mentioned above.
  • Coconut oil: melted coconut oil brings this simple caramel together for a delicious texture and taste.
  • Maca powder: this heightens the caramel richness as it naturally tastes quite like caramel. It also boasts nutritional properties, too, so is great for adding to bakes.

The caramel will last as a sticky consistency for up to 1 week in an airtight container in the fridge, so it’s a great idea to make extra for drizzling over pancakes, French toast and other desserts, too.

Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream with a gooey middle
Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Once the cupcakes are cool, core out the centre and fill with the caramel. Pipe on the vanilla buttercream and add on a final drizzle of gooey maca caramel for that wow factor. I also love to add some extra cinnamon on top for colour and contrast.

Biting into these Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream is truly a delight. They taste like your favourite chai cupcake and pumpkin spice latte all in one with the gooiest caramel centre and the sweetest vanilla buttercream.

Are these Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream gluten-free?

Yes, if you use a GF baking blend these are easily gluten-free. Make sure the blend has xantham gum in to prevent crumbly dry bakes, or add your own. Each GF flour is different, so use your go-to one for baking.

How do you make these cupcakes perfectly fluffy?

Make sure to follow the instructions carefully and do not over mix the batter. Divide the cupcake batter evenly so they all cook at the same time and do not be tempted to open the oven too early or too often as this will make the cupcakes sink as they cool down. Be careful as you transfer them to a wire rack and do not let them sit in the tray for too long as the heat from the tray can cause excess condensation on the cupcake liners which can make the liners come away from the cupcakes and leave you with soggy cupcakes. Make sure they are 100% cool before you start to core and fill the middles, too.

Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

How long do these last?

Like most bakes, they are always best eaten fresh. I like to bake them the day before and serve them the following day so they can fully cool and they taste great. The Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream will last for 2-3 days at room temperature or for 3-5 days in the fridge. You can freeze un-frosted cupcakes for up to 1 month and then frost and fill them before serving. The maca caramel will last up to 5 days at room temperature in a sealed container (if you put it in the fridge, it will harden and last up to 1 week).

I hope you will love these cupcakes and if you are looking for more baking ideas, how about my:

Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream (Vegan Gluten-Free)

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Light and fluffy chai pumpkin spice cupcakes with a light vanilla buttercream and a gooey maca caramel centre. This one-bowl bake is so simple, utterly delicious and is naturally vegan, gluten-free and makes an impressive dessert.

Ingredients

    For the cupcakes:
  • 240ml plant-based milk
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 100g coconut or caster sugar
  • 90ml sunflower oil
  • 80ml maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 225g plain or GF plain flour
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp mixed spice
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • A pinch of salt
  • For the maca caramel:
  • 100g cashew butter
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • ½ tsp maca powder
  • For the vanilla buttercream:
  • 100g vegan butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1-2 tbsp plant-based milk
  • Cinnamon, to sprinkle

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160Fan/180*C and line a muffin tray with 12 muffin cases.
  2. Add the plant-based milk and lemon juice to a bowl and leave for 5 minutes to curdle. Now whisk in the coconut sugar, sunflower oil, maple syrup and vanilla.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, maca, nutmeg, ginger, mixed spice and clove. Add in the ground almonds and salt and whisk to a smooth batter with no lumps of flour.
  4. Divide the batter equally between the 12 cases (I like to use an ice cream scoop) to about ¾ full.
  5. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 1-2 minutes then carefully the cupcakes from the tin and cool fully on a wire rack.
  7. Make the maca caramel by whisking together all the ingredients until smooth. Any extra caramel will last in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  8. Make the buttercream by allowing the butter to rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes until soft. Now add to a bowl and beat until light. Gradually add in the icing sugar, vanilla and plant-based milk and beat until light and fluffy.
  9. Core the centre from each cupcake and fill with the maca caramel, saving some for the top. Place the circle of cake back over the hole.
  10. Use a star-shaped nozzle to pipe the vanilla buttercream over the cupcakes and then top with the extra maca caramel. Sprinkle over some cinnamon, if desired.
  11. Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the fridge for 3-5 days. You can freeze unfrosted cupcakes for up to 1 month.
Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Landscape
Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

I look forward to hearing what you think of these Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream so please let me know in the comments below. If you do make these cupcakes, I would love to see them so please tag me in your bakes,  I’m @nourishing.amy on Instagram and use the hashtag #nourishingamy. I’m also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest  – please say hello!

With chai pumpkin cupcake love x

This blog post is not sponsored although the original recipe was made with Garden of Life and their Maca Root Powder which I love. All opinions are my own and this may contain affiliate links.

7 thoughts on “Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream (Vegan Gluten-Free)

  1. naturally.sophiexx says:

    Hey my friend Amy. Looks splendid and so autumn 🍂 al recipe for sure- adore cupcakes 🧁 and never tried Chai pumpkin. Splendid photography as always and definitely delicious 😋. For sure I will tag you into my bakes using your recipes 😌😌

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