Guest Post: Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Frosting

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Obviously this is not my recipe. I could never be that creative with props. Who thinks of a little bat in a cupcake? Adorable people, that’s who. And that’s exactly who I asked to do a guest post for me! If you haven’t met Vanessa and her wonderful blog, Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind, you must be not eating enough great food! Vanessa is not only extremely spunky and absolutely hilarious, but she creates food that is truly incredible. I would know, she’s fed me before. She once made me cheesecake. Insane. So happy early Halloween! Get ready for your parties and check out her blog for other treat ideas for your special, random holiday!


Well hello there PaleOMG readers! I am so ecstatic to be here today! Yes, I’m pretending like I’m on the Today Show. What? Like you don’t ever do that. You should hear my pretend Oscar speech I recite in the shower when I’m washing my hair. Don’t worry though, I brought something delicious with me, like I would show up empty handed.

First of all, let me preface this post by saying I heart Juli. Almost as much as I heart chocolate and that’s really saying something. You know how you just meet people sometimes and you hit it off immediately and you feel like you’ve known that person for years and then you want to invite them bowling this last weekend to celebrate your birthday because you always have so much fun with them but then you realize they don’t live in the same city so you can’t? Yeah, Juli and I are like that. She has supported my blog from the very beginning and we’ve had incredible conversations in the kitchen over mimosas just like two Paleo bloggers should. Juli is the best human being and if I could carry her around in my pocket so that we could go ride bikes, eat, cook, and have slumber parties together, trust me, I would. Do you think I can get her to move to San Diego? Or maybe just watch Sixteen Candles with me in PJ’s while we talk about how hot Jake Ryan still is. It’s like 30 years after that movie came out and I still want all up in his sweater vest.

I started eating Paleo a little over a year ago. You guys eat Paleo, you know how rad it is, so I don’t even need to convince you or tell you some long drawn out story about why I changed my lifestyle. Which is actually really awesome because then we can just talk about dessert. Which is why I’m here in the first place! Boom. Full circle in like one sentence and I’m not even done with the blog post yet. I’ve always had a bit of a sweet tooth. When I say bit, I’m being bashful. I OBSESS over dessert. OBSESS. Obsess like I will order dessert before my actual food or just order dessert in lieu of dinner. Whatev’s. Just bring it. I’m actually in the process of stalking a pastry chef because my birthday is this week and it’s my annual tradition to eat her dessert every year on my birthday and…*gasp*…she went to another restaurant and now the dessert is…*gulp*… unavailable. UNAVAILABLE? I’m sorry, what was that? I don’t think so…

Since I fell in love with Paleo I had to make room for some clean eating treats and hence, my blog was born. I try to include posts about real food but, who are we kidding people, this is me we’re talking about and to me real food is dessert. I’ve just had to tidy them up a bit. You know, take out the gluten, dairy, and legumes. No biggie. So today I have for you…drum roll please…Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Frosting. Why? Because I love you, but mostly because it’s…wait for it…oh heck, you’ve waited long enough…it’s PUMPKIN SEASON!!!! Can we roll out the red carpet, cue the marching band and throw the confetti now or what?! I’m so excited, pumpkin season is my favorite! I just want pumpkin everything! Seriously. Give me pumpkin flavored pumpkin, I’ll eat it. Wait, what? You get it.

Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my blog so read it maybe?

Twitter: @cleandirtyeats
Instagram: vanessabarajas


Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Frosting

  • Yield: 12 1x



For the Paleo Pumpkin Spice Frosting

  • 1 cup canned coconut cream/milk, full fat, refrigerated overnight (about 2 cans)
  • 1/4 heaping cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of pink himalayan salt
  • a few dashes of cinnamon to taste
  • a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice to taste
  • a few dashes of cloves to taste

For the Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 cup of blanched almond flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut palm sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pink himalayan salt
  • a few dashes of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of enjoy life mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of full fat canned coconut milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup of organic palm shortening or coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 organic cage-free eggs


  1. To make the frosting: In a tall cup or bowl, put the hardened layer of coconut cream/milk from the refrigerated cans, equaling about a cup, along with the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Use an immersion blender or hand mixer to combine and whip the ingredients together. Add more spices if needed to preferred taste. Put in the refrigerator uncovered to thicken for at least 30 minutes while you make your cupcakes.
  3. To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cupcake pan with liners or grease thoroughly if you won’t be using liners.
  4. In a medium sized bowl combine your dry ingredients, almond flour, coconut palm sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, stir together with a fork and set aside.
  5. In another medium sized bowl combine chocolate chips and coconut milk and melt using the double boiler method. Stir consistently until completely melted. Remove from heat.
  6. Stir in the melted organic palm shortening or coconut oil, vanilla and eggs into the melted chocolate and coconut milk mixture.
  7. Now fold your dry ingredients into the melted chocolate mixture until completely combined.
  8. Pour batter into the cupcake liners or pan and fill about 2/3 full, they will rise slightly when baking.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let completely cool before frosting. To frost, transfer the frosting to a decorating bag and use desired tip. Garnish and enjoy!

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PaleOMG Guest Post: Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Frosting

Pumpkin Chocolate 4

Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.


68 thoughts on “Guest Post: Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Frosting”

  1. These look and sound amazing!!!! Deffinitely going to give these a try.

    I was wondering what is the best brand for the blanched almond flour? I usually only bake with coconut flour… THANKS!

    1. Hi Lisa,

      I think the best almond flour is Honeyville. You can buy a 5lb. bag for $35 online. It’s cheap, lasts forever, and is the finest I have found! It gets the texture of baked goods really close to regular flour!

  2. Is there a huge taste difference between pink Himalayan salt and sea salt??? :((( I have everything else to make these now lol so if there isn’t, I’ll make them ASAP

    1. Hi Crystal,

      Sea salt will work fine. I love the pink salt because, well, it’s pink and how cool is that? Also it’s supposed to be the purest form of salt. And Costco sells it for really cheap. 🙂

  3. Looks so good! Juli, would you consider doing a short post or video on the double boiler method..especially for those of us who don’t have a real double boiler and how to use a makeshift one. I always mess up when I melt chocolate. And then end up with a bowl of hard stuff I can’t use. Which is obviously a travesty! Thanks for considering!

    1. If you’re ending up with hard chocolate, my guess is that you are not being quite gentle enough (e.g., letting water boil too hard, leaving chocolate over hot water too long). It’s not a difficult process, but you do have to be gentle. A few tips:

      – only put an inch or two of water in your pan
      – bring the water to a simmer, not a raging boil
      – the simmering water should NOT touch the bottom of your bowl
      – as your chocolate starts to melt, stir it and then remove the bowl from the pan once the chocolate is ALMOST all melted (finish melting the remaining bits by stirring, which will also cool the mixture GENTLY).

      p.s. I’m certainly no chocolate expert. Sorry for the shouty CAPS. I just thought those words could get lost on a quick read but were quite important to the outcome.

    2. I just microwave them. Super easy. Go for a minute on high, stir them, nuke in 10-15 second intervals after that until mostly melted, then just stir until completely melted.

  4. What a great recipe, Vanessa! And Juli’s right–you have a knack for styling!

    Erin, you don’t really need a double boiler to make a ganache. Just put the chips in a bowl. Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan on the stove on medium heat until it simmers (just before the boiling point). Pour the hot coconut milk over the chips and stir. I usually use a small whisk because it incorporates faster. Once you have a smooth ganache, you can whisk in your melted coconut oil, vanilla, and eggs. Personally, I would make sure the eggs are room temperature.

  5. Sixteen Candles is one of my all-time favorite movies. I still swoon over Jake Ryan when I catch it on a random TBS 80s movies marathon or something.

    I’m swooning over these cupcakes now, too, of course. Perhaps a project for my little girls and me this weekend! Thank you.

  6. Icannot wait to make these, they look so rich and scrumptious! It is so great to be able to have dessert while staying paleo…
    I do most of my baking in my toaster oven, so really like using silicone cupcake liners! They work lined up in a regular pan since a muffin tin won’t fit in the toaster oven. You can get them in the cake decorating aisle at Walmart for $2 a 4 pack.
    For melting chocolate I use my electric fondue pot. It works great. You can often find cool 70s fondue pots at Goodwill. The electric ones work the best (vs the sterno pots). More consistent heat control. I have three I use during the holidays for oil, cheese & chocolate fondues (started it when my kids were ready for a more grown up tradition).

  7. You have Disturbed my day! I want these NOW, I don’t want to have to wait overnight for chilled coconut milk! This will be all I think about all day until i can make these tomorrow~SO EXCITED!!!

    1. Be proactive (for future temptations anyways)… always keep a can or two of coconut milk in the fridge! That’s what I do, so when I have a craving for something that requires cold coconut milk it is ready and waiting 🙂

  8. Couldn’t wait to try these. Just an FYI if your 3000ft above sea level as I am you might want to add 1 more egg and a 1/4 more flour. But they taste amazing. Still waiting to cool and ice.

  9. Welcome Vanessa!
    Also, damn you! 😛 a.) you got that song in my head and b.) these look freaking amazing and I’m trying to lose weight for summer (I’m in Aus).

    Definitely going to follow your blog though 🙂

  10. Does the frosting stay where it is supposed it? I always have a hard time with “paleo” frostings. These do look amazing and I have all the ingredients. I can’t wait to try these. Yum! Thank you Vanessa and Juli!

    1. Hey Jamee,

      I have the hardest time with Paleo frosting too. I found that leaving my unopened coconut milk can in the fridge for a few days before using it works best. It hardens really well and makes for a thicker frosting. If you can’t wait that long (who can?) then keep your finished frosting in the fridge as long as you possibly can, it will thicken up! I’ve even left finished frosting overnight and had amazing results. Hope that helps!

  11. Hello.

    Cupcakes in the making! Although a little confused with the frosting. its not getting firm. The can of full fat coconut milk I used was 1 cup. So I only used the one. Will the second one make it more firm? Also do you keep these in the fridge?

    1. Hi Tessi,
      The cupcakes will be fine if left out for a few days, but mine never last that long! As for the frosting, you might want to try another can or just keep it in the fridge longer to thicken up. Unfortunately coconut milk can be difficult to work with because there is so much variance from can to can and brand to brand. If I know I’m going to make a coconut milk frosting I will put 4 cans in the fridge, sometimes a variety of brands, for 3-5 days then open them all and use the thickest. That’s honestly the only consistent method I can find! Hope that helps.

  12. Hello! THese looks great! I have a (possibly silly) question since we dont have canned pumpkin in Norway: can you make your own, and what type of pumpkin? =)

  13. Hi Juli,
    Thank you so much for your amazing recipes! have you try these with coconut flour? it is my daughters first birthday in 2 weeks and i want to make cupcake for the kids, but my daughter reacted to nuts last month! 🙁 hard to be paleo with no nuts!!!!
    just wondering if you have the ratio for almond flour to coconut flour…
    Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi Sylvie,

      You could try subbing a gluten-free flour mix with a few tablespoons of coconut flour in place of the almond flour. Unfortunately I haven’t made it this way so I don’t have an exact ratio for you. You wouldn’t be able to do a 1:1 switch with the coconut flour because it reacts so differently. I plan on working on a nut free version of this!

  14. Love seeing Vanessa being passed around the Paleo world like a cheap date!

    P.s. the nutritional value doesn’t count when you’re standing up while eating and hanging out in spandex.

    1. Tall,
      Are you calling me a Paleo slut on the interwebs?! Ha! I LOVE it! I’m a woman of many blog posts. 😉 See you Sunday, I’ll be in sweats not spandex. 😉 I believe calories definitely don’t count in sweats either.

  15. Hello, quick question- is it one can coconut cream AND two cans of coconut milk to make the frosting? Or simply use one method over the other? Thanks everyone!

    1. Hey Erin,
      It’s two cans of either/or. I prefer coconut cream which tends to be thicker but some folks can’t find that in their area, in which case coconut milk would be fine. Thanks!

  16. I need these cupcakes, but without pumpkin frosting. I think I’m the only person on the planet who hates all the pumpkin stuff this time of year 🙁 Any suggestions for a paleo-friendly frosting alternative??

    1. Kristin!
      What is wrong with you! haha just kidding! You could do a few subs, make a chocolate cake frosting using my recipe found here: just scroll down, or you could even just replace the pumpkin with cocoa powder, or you could omit the pumpkin and add vanilla beans! Or you could add coffee extract, or mint extract. Yum I want them all now. Hope that gives you some ideas!

      1. Thanks Vanessa, now I’m really dying to make these! All those sound great, but mint chocolate is my all time fav, so I think that will be first 🙂

        1. I LOVE mint chocolate too! I have an incredible Triple Chocolate Mint Brownie recipe on my blog that you should try too! It’s super easy! Let me know how the mint chocolate cupcakes come out! 🙂

  17. Just made these today for a baby shower, and they were a huge hit! With two diabetics, a gluten-free person, and the whole foods eater(me) these cupcakes were a great option. So yummy! Even the non-diabetic sugar lovers really liked them. I loved the chocolatey richness and sweet creamy frosting….I will definitely make again and again

  18. I am allergic to eggs 🙁

    Any thoughts on egg substitutions that will still work with the gluten-free aspect of the recipe?

    1. Hey Beth,

      I’ve heard of people using soaked chia seeds/powder as an egg replacement. I’ve never done it before but I’m sure it would work, since soaked chia seeds get super gelatinous when soaked. Also a lot of vegan recipes use it in place of eggs so I would just do a google search and see what you find! Hope that helps!

  19. Thanks for posting this recipe! My son is turning 4 this weekend & one of his friends is allergic to dairy. I want to make these cupcakes with whipped coconut cream for him. Would these cupcakes be sweet enough for him? I saw only 1 tablespoon of sweetener. Is this correct?

      1. Cupcakes turned out great however the frosting never firmed up. Without adding coconut oil or butter, how does it firm up enough to not eventually drip off cupcake?

        1. The method I found that works the best is to actually chill the cans of coconut for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. The coconut milk tends to become really thick at that point and makes the frosting thicker and therefore easier to work with. Another method would be to make the frosting 2-3 days ahead and let it sit in the fridge to harden. Either way the key is patience. I usually have 5 cans of coconut milk in my fridge at any given time. If you do a lot of Paleo frostings you could always invest in a whip cream dispenser! I’m not that classy but I’ve heard wonderful things.

  20. These look so good!

    My mom’s birthday is coming up and I need birthday cake ideas! Do you think this would be a good recipe to use?

  21. Must say I had very low expectations due to bad past experiences , but I just baked these: they taste great!!! Disclaimer: I added a little bit of melted butter to the batter.

  22. Cupcakes came out okay but the frosting, which cost a small fortune to make I might add, NEVER got firm! I followed the directions to the T and the frosting was like soup! Made these for Thanksgiving and they looked so awful I couldn’t put them on the table with other desserts! Such a disappointment!! 🙁

  23. These sound amazing, but I don’t have apple cider vinegar… how necessary is that ingredient? I just don’t feel like going to the store.

  24. These cupcakes were AMAZING (and I didn’t use Honeyville flour!) So perfectly moist. So much better then Cupcakes in a box!!!

  25. Made a double batch of these for my friend’s birthday and wOW! These are so divine! The finished cupcake is like a slightly fluffy brownie. So delicious and good for you! My only problem was the coconut milk did not thicken properly but the frosting still tasted amazing. It thickened some when in the fridge for longer but still not on a frosting level. I’ll probably make these again because they’re so good!! Thank you for this awesome recipe!

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