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Monday, July 26, 2010

Gluten-free Vegan Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Sorry for the lack of updates to Sweet & Saucy lately. I recently started a new job and have been busy learning all sorts of new and exciting things, so cooking hasn’t been high on the priority list.

A new job means a new team of people to work with…and my new team seriously ROCKS! Everyone is sharp, fun, hard-working, and professional. I actually enjoy coming in to work these days. Hooray!

Two of my new co-workers, my boss and my office-mate, adhere to a gluten-free diet. When I first found out about their diet restrictions, I was a little intimidated because I’ve never cooked a gluten-free ANYTHING. Turns out it isn’t as difficult as I expected…the biggest hassle is buying the ingredients (which tend to be a bit spendy). Other than that, well, it’s easy peasy!

I decided to christen my gluten-free baking experience with a batch of chocolate cupcakes. And, for all you purists out there, it just so happens that these cupcake are vegan in addition to being gluten-free. Win win!

Gluten-free Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

2 cups brown rice flour
½ cup tapioca flour
½ cup dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon sea salt
⅔ cup grapeseed oil
1 ⅓ cups Sucanat sugar
2 cups non-dairy milk (rice milk or almond milk, I used almond)
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper muffin cups.

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, xanthan gum, baking soda, and sea salt.

In a separate bowl whisk together the oil, sugar, milk, vanilla, and almond flavoring.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together until the batter thickens and is very smooth. (Batter will be thin at first, don’t worry….the flours are thirsty and soak up the liquid ingredients within a couple minutes).

Fill prepared muffin cups about ¾ full. Bake for about 25 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Agave Frosting

This frosting has the perfect amount of sweetness, and a rich chocolatey flavor. It is fluffy, yet smooth. The best word I can think of to describe this frosting is “silky”. I just wanted to run my hands through an entire vat of it!

For frosting a dozen cupcakes, make a ½ batch of this recipe.

2 cups organic palm shortening
¾ cup dark cocoa powder
¼ cup arrowroot powder
1 cup agave nectar
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond flavoring (optional)

Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Spread or squirt onto cooled cupcakes


• I adapted this recipe from a website that features gluten-free recipe ideas. I have since forgotten the website and can’t find it again despite oodles of Googling. If this is your recipe, let me know and I’ll give credit where credit is due!

• I was extremely skeptical of gluten-free cupcakes and worried that they tasted like… something other than cupcakes. My co-workers said they tasted great, especially being gluten-free, so I guess I did something right!

• Sucanat sugar can be found at Whole Foods or any other natural market. It’s basically pure dried sugar cane juice. I’m guessing you could use Turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw) as well, but don’t quote me on that.

• Don’t try to cheat and use all brown rice flour and no tapioca flour. The tapioca flour is what gives these cupcakes a fluffy texture. Fluffiness is difficult to come by with gluten-free baking, so don’t skip that step.

• Xanthan gum is wicked expensive. Fortunately I was able to borrow a few tablespoons from my office mate instead of paying $12-$15 for a few ounces of the stuff.

• Did I mention how much I loved the frosting? It is soooo smooth!! I don’t think I’ll ever make frosting any other way ever again.

• You can use regular cocoa powder instead of the dark chocolate stuff. The only reason I did was because that was all they had on the shelf at Safeway.

• I made a full batch of the frosting because I knew it would be good on graham crackers, strawberries, other baked goods, or just licked straight from the spoon. Mmm!


  1. these look devine!!! my son is on a gluten, dairy, egg and soy free diet so these are perfect! and not to mention they're made with wholesome sweeteners instead of refined ones so this recipe looks like a total winner for us!!! lucky for me, i already have all of the ingredients in the house - except for palm shortening... i've never seen that... do you think i could use vegetable shortening? i don't want to mess with the 'silky-ness!'
    thanks for posting this - i'm looking forward to giving them a try!

  2. Ah, welcome to gluten-free experimental baking! I'm working on cookies right now, myself. If you plan on doing more, I highly recommend the Bob's Red Mill coconut flour. High in fiber, great texture.

    I don't know if I'll EVER make it through my bag of xanthan gum. So if you need more, I'll gladly ship you some. I wish they sold it in smaller amounts.

    Soon I'll try cakes/cupcakes. But mine will have butter and dairy galore.

  3. My son is now on a gluten free diet and I've been searching how and low for tasty kid friendly recipes

  4. I would love to try this frosting. I'm obsessing about vegan frosting right now (and especially one that is sweetened more naturally), so this came at a perfect time :)

  5. thanks for this recipe. It seems simple and very tasty. Many vegan & gluten-free cake recipes I've came upon before needed way too many ingredients.