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?

Please leave a review in the comments section below. You can also stay in touch with me on social media by following me on Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok or by subscribing to my newsletter.

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!
Thanks for contributing to our community! Your comment will appear shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
October 8, 2022
Noam
Just made a half batch of these and they came out really good! I learned I don’t know how to work with melted chocolate yet haha but I got it done!
Hi Noam - Glad you liked these bars! And I feel ya on the chocolate - somehow it is always a messy process. Thanks so much for sharing!
September 5, 2022
Sara
I get most of my recipes from youtube. I would love to see you on there. I didn't see a link for a youtube channel, just wanted to ask to be sure. God bless hon and thanks for this tasty recipe.
Hi Sara - thanks so much for your kind words. I am starting to post more on YouTube (I currently only have a few videos posted) but here's the link to my channel if you'd like to check it out: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl2QgTWxlePeiezIu6l_BUg -Elizabeth
August 17, 2022
Katherine
THIS LOOKS DELICIOUS! DID YOU USE FIRE-ROASTED TOMATOES?
Hi Katherine - yes, I did use fire-roasted tomatoes when I photographed this recipe. I don't call for fire roasted in the recipe because it's intended to be a basic, use-in-anything type recipe. But it does taste delicious with the fire roasted tomatoes! -- Elizabeth
August 15, 2022
Cat Lewis
Hello - Is there a way to PIN this recipe? Thanks.
Hi Cat - yes, I just fixed an error on the site. You should be able to see a button above the very first image on the page that will allow you to pin the recipe. Let me know if you're still having trouble.
August 12, 2022
Allison Macfarlane
As someone who has pretty much never successfully scrambled tofu - this was the best scrambled breakfast dish I've ever had - better than eggs and the seasoning is truly delicious!!
Oh, amazing! So glad to hear it went well :) This is definitely one of my favorites - thanks for sharing your kind words! -- Elizabeth
August 4, 2022
Mary Merkelhess
The pesto is lovely! So happy to avoid the cheese and oil.
Hi Mary - So glad you like the pesto! I'm also happy to avoid the cheese and oil :) Thanks so much for your kind words!
July 21, 2022
Debra
I enjoy reading through your recipes and will be trying a few later in the week. I especially like the prayers at the end of each recipe. It reminds me to be grateful God provides me with so many beautiful and nourishing fruits and veggies.
Hi Debra - thank you so much for your kind words! I can't wait to hear how it goes when you try some of the recipes :)
June 22, 2022
Vickie
I really enjoyed this recipe. Fits PERFECTLY in my allergy to foods world. I used Ripple milk and no sugar added SunButter. Was truly surprised at how quickly the recipe came together! Thank you!
Hi Vickie - I'm so glad you enjoyed this recipe and that it works with your allergies. Thanks so much for leaving a comment with your kind words!
June 21, 2022
Linda Casados
It's close to my bedtime, but I've been thinking about making this recipe all day, so I made it just now. After all, it only takes 15 minutes! I used what I had, so I made a few minor substitutions...white beans for cannellini, purple basil from my garden, red onion for more color, and date syrup for maple. I took a bite before putting it in the fridge for tomorrow, and oh my! It's delightfully flavorful, light, and fresh-tasting. Thanks for sharing your recipe!
Hi Linda - I'm so glad you liked the recipe - and your substitutions sound great (wish I was growing purple basil in my garden!) Thanks so much for sharing!
June 18, 2022
Carol
Hi, is this ice cream soft to scoop out? I always find my ice creams are hard.
Hi Carol - yes, this ice cream is soft if you let it thaw a few minutes after you take it out from the freezer. It can become pretty solid if it's in a deep freezer, but still thaws quickly on the counter. Hope this helps!
June 18, 2022
Sonia Hope St Claire
thank you for the recipe.
June 13, 2022
Alexandra
I made this pie for my friend who recently discovered she has severe allergies to egg whites, gluten, and dairy. Her favorite pie is sweet potato pie :) She loved it and so did I!
Hi Alexandra - so great to hear from you!! I'm so happy you tried this pie and I'm glad you enjoyed it! It is seriously one of my favorite recipes :) -- Elizabeth
June 7, 2022
Harriett Whited
Love it!!! Wonderful!
Thanks for your feedback! Glad you love this recipe :)
June 7, 2022
Katherine
Hi Elizabeth! I found you by searching for plant based Catholics! There are very few of us! Thank you for your site and sharing recipes!! I look forward to trying these muffins! Can sugar be reduced safely in most of your recipes? -JMJ-
Hi Katherine, Thanks so much for reaching out! Glad to meet another plant-based Catholic - agree, there are so few of us. As for sugar, I never use white granulated sugar in any of my recipes. Most use maple syrup or date sugar/date syrup. I'm not sure if this is what you mean, or if you're asking about reducing the amount of date sugar that the recipe calls for. If that's the case, it really depends on the recipe. A lot of the baking recipes have specific ratios of flour to sugar and wet to dry, so it may not go well if you change the amount of sugar. I hope this helps, but if I didn't answer your question, please let me know. Also happy to advise on a particular recipe if you're looking to change it. Let me know how I can help :) Elizabeth
June 2, 2022
Sharon
Love this vegan lentil/mushroom stew! For some odd reason, I had never thought to put mushrooms into my lentil stew. Thank you for a wonderful addition to my recipe box!
Hi Sharon - I'm so glad you are enjoying this recipe (mushrooms are so good!!). Thank you for taking the time to share :) Elizabeth
May 23, 2022
Geraldine
Hello, I found you on FB and really enjoy your Catholic Plant Based GF information & recipes. About the Chickpea beet burgers: if the beans are dried and not cooked, do you think it is enough cooking for the beans? If beans are not cooked completely I have read they are toxic with phytic acid & also cause digestive problems. I am just wondering and will leave it to you to decide/research. To be safe I am toasting canned garbanzos and trying that way out. God Bless
Hi Geraldine, Thanks so much for reaching out. In the beet burgers, the beans do get cooked when the burgers are cooked. You soak them first and then incorporate the beans into the burger patty, then cook the patty. I find that this is the best way to achieve the proper burger texture - if you use pre-cooked beans or canned beans the burgers are mushy and don't get crisp. Your solution of toasting the beans sounds like a great idea to completely ensure the beans are cooked fully - I hope that it worked for you and your burgers turned out well! -- Elizabeth
May 18, 2022
viki avgen (i am israel)
hi,thank you for the recepie of the banana.Iam diebetik and i would love any recepies without sugar. thank you
Hi Viki - thanks so much for your kind words! Several of my other dessert recipes are only sweetened with fruit - you can find them on my Desserts page. If you have any specific requests, please let me know! -- Elizabeth
April 28, 2022
Jean Mastin
Elizabeth: Thank you so much for making my meal times wonderful again. I am 86 yrs plus, and was finding eating dull and dreary. Now it is " scrum delicious time to eat". . Blessings de Jean
Hi Jean - Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm so glad you are enjoying my recipes. Please let me know if you ever have recipe requests or if there's anything else I can do to keep your meals delicious!
April 9, 2022
Katie
Can you leave nutritional info for your recipes? Serving size/calories would be so helpful! Trying mushroom lentil stew tonight! and looking forward to crispy chickpea stuffed sweet potatoes very soon. Thanks for creating healthy, attractive recipes!
Hi Katie - so excited to hear that you are trying some of my recipes! I'd love to hear how they go. I haven't posted nutritional information for my recipes because I know it can be difficult for some people with disordered eating to see nutrition facts. I've gotten a lot of requests to add them recently, so I'm working on a solution that can provide information for those who want it but not be triggering for others. In the meantime, if you're curious about the nutrient info about a particular recipe, I recommend using Cronometer. It's a website/app to track and understand nutrient info and I think it does a great job of emphasizing all the nutrients (not just macros). I hope this helps! Please let me know if I can help in any other way.
April 9, 2022
Vickey
U mentioned date sugar on this recipe but it’s not in the instructions. I know u add it but just in case u wanna add to instructions. Love ur recipes! Thank u. I’m thinking of going to vegan a little nervous tho lol
Hi Vickey - thanks so much for catching that! I am updating the post now. So happy to hear you enjoy my recipes. And exciting that you are thinking about going vegan!! If there's anything that I can do to help, please let me know.
March 28, 2022
Sr Maureen Egan
I'd love to try this soup. What are the nutritional values, like how much fat does it contain, carbs, etc.
Hi Sr Maureen - I usually don't post macronutrient information because I know each person has their own goals and I don't want to encourage or discourage anyone's specific goals. But I often use Cronometer as a tool to understand the nutritional profile of my recipes. I plugged the ingredient information for this recipe into Cronometer and got the following nutrient information per serving: 521 calories, 44g fat, 23g carbs, 16g protein. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions and if you try the recipe!
March 26, 2022
Margareta Ahle
This curry is absolutely delicious.
Thank you so much! It's one of my favorites :)
March 23, 2022
Martha maloney
Thank you I have been doing the fruit and oatmeal, etc for years and I love it. I will try the pears. I refrigerate my left over oatmeal and with a touch of milk or fruit juice liquid it’s fine the next day. Just a warning about tofu; it interferes with some medicines especially Thyroid medicine. Thank you for the short prayers, there are lovely.
Hi Martha - thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad you like the prayers! As someone who doesn't take any medications I have no issues with eating tofu and encouraging others to eat it too (it's a great source of protein!). That said, you should always consult with your doctor about possible interactions with medications. I have plenty of recipes without tofu, so hopefully you can find things that work for you!
March 3, 2022
Susan Cunningham
I made this for Ash Wednesday and it was delicious. It was also simple and not much work time once the mushrooms and onions were cut.
Hi Susan - I'm so glad you liked it!
March 1, 2022
Jade
When you say shape into a rectangular loaf, what dimensions? 1/2 thick by 8 inches long or?
My loaf was about 7" long and 4" wide with about 1" of height. Then I sliced it 1/2" thick along the long end to get 12ish biscotti. I will clarify this in the post! Let me know if this makes sense and if you have any other questions.
January 16, 2022
Tracy Henry
Made this tonight. Absolutely delicious Elizabeth. You got this one just right!
Oh yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it :)
January 16, 2022
L Collins
Hi Could you please confirm two things:1. The amount of salt. Seems like too much. 2. The directions say there is lemon juice in the dressing but it’s not listed under ingredients. ThanksL.
Hi there! Confirming that the two teaspoons of salt in the dressing is correct. I didn't salt the cauliflower when roasting it or the salad after it was done, so this amount of salt was perfect. If you're concerned about it you can decrease the amount of salt in the dressing and then add more at the end if you need it. As for the lemon juice, SO sorry about that! It was a typo in my directions and I've removed it now. Hope this helps :)
December 20, 2021
Martha
This looks lovely! Do you have a recipe for the red pepper hummus also? Thank you!
Hi Martha! I don't have a recipe for red pepper hummus on my site. I suggest taking a traditional hummus recipe and blending in roasted red pepper.
November 22, 2021
Amanda J Lehmann
I tried these and they were delicious! A bit dense but flavorful and the "buckeye" blend of peanut and chocolate was on point! Recommend!
Yay! I'm so glad you liked them! -- Elizabeth
December 6, 2021
Grace
Hi, these look amazing. I was wondering, could I used powdered peanut butter in place of creamy for the recipe? thanks
Hi Grace! There is already some powdered peanut butter in this recipe, so adding more might make the texture more gluey. Also, the real peanut butter adds some fat, which helps create flavor. That said, if you want to use powdered peanut butter, I would suggest mixing it with a high-fat liquid like coconut cream and then measuring out 2/3 cup. Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes :) -- Elizabeth
November 15, 2021
Becky
You mention using vegetable broth in your introduction but it isn’t included in the recipe
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. -- Elizabeth
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