How great is autumn? The crisp sweater weather refreshes, a naturally warm and inviting color palette soothes, and the approaching holiday season excites. And, don’t worry, I couldn’t possibly forget to include fall’s true legacy…Pumpkin Spice Everything. Truth be told, I’ve never been one of those people who sprints to Starbucks as soon as Pumpkin Spice Lattes return for the season. I actually can’t remember the last time I ordered or bought pumpkin spice anything. But this year, the smell of pumpkin spice in the air inspired a super fun and totally indulgent autumnal dessert, centered around the unbelievable spice cake my mom baked me for my birthday this summer.
I’d been meaning to make the spice cake again because I loved it so much on my birthday. And so it recently occurred to me, why not make that cake but top it with something pumpkin-y, instead of plain vanilla frosting? Yes. Moist and rich apple sauce spice cake topped with luscious cream cheese frosting flavored with organic pumpkin purée. Yum. And that, my friends, is how my Mini Spice Cakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting were born.
The recipe my mom used was an adapted version from an ancient cookbook that lives at our lake house in Canada. I further adapted the cake to be vegan using a couple easy swaps. I like to do this because there’s really no difference taste-wise and the textural results are always fantastic. Plus it’s so easy to do, why not? Frosting, however, is harder to make vegan. So I decided to use a traditional-style cream cheese frosting recipe flavored with real pumpkin and a little spice. The beautiful thing about a solid vegan cake recipe is the ability to swap out just the frosting to please anyone in your life that’s dairy-free. Customization is always key.
My mom made her batter into an actual cake. I decided to use a muffin pan this time. It creates 8 perfect individual cakes, which I love. They’re fun to give away as gifts and perfect for entertaining, no cutting necessary. These cakes are also amazing for holiday entertaining because they’re simple to make, seductively yummy and super festive. Anyone you serve these to will love you forever. I mean, I’m obsessed with these cakes. The insanely moist spice cake is subtly sweet to perfectly balance out the uber rich and silky pumpkin frosting, and the combination is absolutely heavenly. HEAVENLY.
So there you go, one more “pumpkin spice something” to add to the infinite list of “pumpkin spice somethings.” But who cares because these Mini Spice Cakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting are out of this world and definitely deserve a spot on that list. Happy fall!
Mini Spice Cakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves: 8 Start to Finish: 45-75 min (plus cooling time)
For Mini Spice Cakes
2-1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda, divided
1 tablespoon White Vinegar
2-1/2 cups all-purpose Flour
1-3/4 cups Sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1-1/2 cups Apple Sauce (all natural, no sugar added variety)
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Coconut Oil, liquid or softened (organic virgin variety preferred)
1 batch Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
Mix together 1 tablespoon Vinegar and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Add 1 teaspoon baking soda, stir to combine. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine ingredients, flour through Coconut oil, plus remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda. Add Vinegar mixture. Beat batter on low for 30 seconds until ingredients are combined. Continue beating on medium-high for several minutes.
Add batter to pans of choice, lightly greased with coconut oil. I use muffin tins to get individual size cakes. You could also do cupcakes, two 8 or 9″ round pans, or a 13×9″ rectangular pan.
My rule of thumb when pouring batter…aim for right between 1/2 and 2/3 of the way up the side of the pan.
Bake until the top of the cake(s) is golden brown. For my muffin size, it took 25-30 minutes. Cupcakes will take less time, maybe 20-25 minutes. Large cakes could take 50 minutes up to an hour and 15 minutes. To check, stick a toothpick into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, it’s finished.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.
For Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick Organic Unsalted Butter (1/2 cup)
4 oz Cream Cheese
1/4 cup Pumpkin Purée
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
2 pinches Sea Salt, fine grain
3 cups powdered sugar
Beat together all ingredients until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Refrigerate before frosting for more control of the icing’s shape. Cream cheese frosting softens easily, you may want to keep the cupcakes refrigerated after icing.
For a layer cake, I would make a double batch of frosting. A single batch is perfect for 8 generously frosted mini cakes like mine.