Pumpkin Gems (mini-cupcakes)

Pumpkin in a cupcake makes it healthy enough for breakfast, right?

Pumpkin Gems (small)

It finally feels like fall in Indiana.  We had an abnormally warm start to the fall.  It was regularly getting up into the 80s throughout the majority of September and October.  That is almost unheard of here in the American midwest.  As soon as the chill returns to the air and the leaves really start to turn, though, the thought in our house turn to Pumpkin Gems.

I do the majority of the cooking in our house.  It’s not because Michelle can’t cook, but she doesn’t usually like to, and I do.  However, these mini-pumpkin cupcakes are totally her show.  And along with the Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles I posted recently, these are my favorite pumpkin things.  I don’t like pumpkin pie, but these are outstanding.  She got in the mood to make them the other night, so she let me help and take pictures.


This recipe is going to come in two parts: the cupcakes themselves and the frosting. The cupcakes are built off of a boxed cake mix.  Make sure to read the ingredients carefully – some have dairy or soy in them.  Since Reese can have wheat, I don’t worry about that, but we do have to avoid the other stuff.  After the success of using pumpkin to replace eggs in the snickerdoodles, we decided to give it a go with these, too.


For each egg, I use 1/4 cup of pumpkin and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.  Since pumpkin is typically measured by weight and not volume, I measured it out.  It turns out 1/4 cup is about 2 ounces of weight… which is also the volume.  So it was a waste of time.  Oh well.  So you’ll use a 20 oz can plus 3/4 cup, which turns out to be a total of 26 ounces.

In a mixing bowl, blend together the box cake mix, all of the pumpkin, oil, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice – your call).

Line a mini-muffin tin with mini-cupcake liners.  Trust me, use the paper liners.  These are soft, moist cupcakes, and they will not survive being removed from the tin without the liners.

Fill the liners about 2/3 full.  The batter will be thick, so it’s easiest to spoon it in rather than pouring it.  Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  When they are done let them cool completely on a cooling rack.  If they aren’t complete cooled, the frosting will likely melt.  After they have mostly cooled, popping them into the fridge for a bit probably wouldn’t hurt.

For the frosting, we use a dollop of a cream cheese frosting.  Since dairy is out, we used Daiya cream cheeze spread.  It’s a dairy-free, soy-free cream cheese substitute that fills in perfectly for this recipe.

Blend together the Daiya cream cheeze and a non-dairy butter (we use Earth Balance), vanilla extract, a bit of coconut milk, and powdered sugar.  Adjust the powdered sugar as needed.  We used exactly 2 cups, but it turned out to be a bit soft.  That coupled with the cupcakes being a bit warm led to the frosting melting.  If it seems a little loose, add some more (2 1/2 cups might be a perfect amount, but check as you go).

Chill the frosting for a bit and spoon or pipe a small dollop onto each cupcake.  Unlike most cupcakes, I think these work best with just a bloop of frosting on top rather than complete coverage.

This recipe makes about 75 (or more) pumpkin gems, so you will have plenty to share!

Pumpkin Gems

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • 26 oz pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
  1. Blend all ingredients together until well combined.
  2. Fill a paper-lined mini muffin tin 2/3 full.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
  4. Cool completely, then frost.

For the frosting:

  • 4 oz Daiya cream cheeze spread
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (or other dairy-free butter)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk (or other dairy-free milk)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (or more as needed for frosting consistency)
  1. Cream together the cream cheeze and the earth balance until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in vanilla and coconut milk.
  3. Gradually add the powdered sugar (slowly so it doesn’t get thrown all over the kitchen) until frosting is to your desired consistency.
  4. Spoon or pipe onto cooled pumpkin gems

*Of course, this can be made with real cream cheese, butter, and eggs, so if you don’t have the same food restrictions, go for it.  We have had it both ways, and we couldn’t tell the difference!

Pumpkin Gems (large)

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Your wife says:

    Bloop! 😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been looking for a cream cheese substitution for my nephew who has severe nut allergies and now has developed a dairy allergy. Could you tell me what the Daiya cream cheese is made of? I love your site and I share all of your recipes with my sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! My son has nut and dairy allergies, so I totally get it. I’ll be posting a more thorough review about the Daiya cream cheeze soon, but here is a basic ingredient list:
      Filtered water, coconut oil, tapioca starch, coconut cream, safflower oil, vegan natural flavors, pea protein isolate, sea salt, can sugar, xanthan gum, potato protein isolate, vegan lactic acid, vegan enzyme, lemon juice concentrate, guar gum, locust bean gum.
      Check with your nephew’s allergist, but coconut is usually ok even with a tree but allergy, because they aren’t actually related in the same way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He can have coconut so I’ll tell my sister about it. Thank you so much!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent recipe once again and beautiful presentation!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind words! If you try making them, let me know how they turn out for you!


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