My favorite Julia Child quote is, “A party without cake is just a meeting.” Whether you’re celebrating Gluten Free & More’s 20th anniversary (as we are) or your own special event, how better than with cupcakes? After all, a cupcake is simply a mini cake in a convenient, self-serve package.
The number one seller at my bakery is and always has been a chocolate cupcake. Here’s the winning recipe, along with ways to dress it up and make cupcakes the hit of your next celebration.
PREP: 20 minutes
BAKE: 25–30 minutes
MAKES 24 TO 25 CUPCAKES.
This recipe is the little black dress of cupcakes. You can dress it up with a variety of fillings, frostings and decorative toppings or keep it basic with a simple vanilla or chocolate frosting. For a deeper chocolate flavor, increase the cocoa powder in this recipe by ¼ cup (to 1 cup total) and increase the milk by ¼ cup (to 2¼ cups total). This recipe can be made egg-free; see instructions.
Each cupcake (without frosting and filling) contains 254 calories, 10g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 42mg cholesterol, 225mg sodium, 39g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 22g sugars, 3g protein, 25Est GL.
Mix & Match Toppings and Fillings
PREP: 20 minutes
MAKES 8½ CUPS.
Use this frosting to top cupcakes and create flavored fillings. It also makes a yummy filling for sandwich cookies. Refrigerate any extra in a sealed container up to 3 weeks; bring to room temperature and whip for a few minutes to make it fluffy again.
Each ¼ cup contains 238 calories, 18g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 34mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 17g sugars, 0g protein, 12Est GL.
PREP: 20 minutes
MAKES 7 CUPS.
This is a dark chocolate frosting. For lighter chocolate frosting, blend it with some vanilla frosting, if you have some on hand. Refrigerate any extra in a sealed container up to 3 weeks; bring to room temperature and whip for a few minutes to make it fluffy again. In dry or cold weather, cocoa powder may cause this chocolate frosting to dry out faster; simply add a little hot water and remix for a fluffy consistency.
Each ¼ cup contains 220 calories, 14g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 4mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 23g sugars, 0g protein, 16Est GL.
PREP: 10 minutes
MAKES 6½ CUPS.
Ganache, also known as truffle filling, is very versatile. Warm it for dipping cupcakes as a shiny topping, drizzling on frosted cupcakes as decoration or spooning over ice cream as hot fudge sauce. Cool it to room temperature to spread as frosting. Whip it for a lighter, fluffier frosting.
Each tablespoon contains 59 calories, 6g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 6mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 0g sugars, 1g protein, 0Est GL.
Perfect Cupcake Topping Combinations
Our favorite mix & match cupcake variations:
Almost “Hostess “
Core chocolate cupcakes and fill with vanilla frosting. Cover the filling with reserved cupcake center. Place the cupcakes in the freezer to firm. Warm a bowl of dark chocolate ganache. Dip the top of the well-chilled cupcakes into the ganache. Place on a plate or in the refrigerator to set. Draw a squiggle on top of each cupcake using vanilla frosting.
Mocha latte anyone? Fill and frost chocolate cupcakes with mocha frosting, add a drizzle of dark chocolate ganache and top with a few espresso or coffee beans. To make the mocha frosting, combine 2 cups chocolate frosting, 1 cup vanilla frosting and 1 teaspoon coffee extract. Blend well with a rubber spatula. To boost the coffee flavor, add a bit more extract.
Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake
Add ½ cup chopped strawberries to 2 cups of vanilla frosting. Blend well by hand. Fill cored cupcakes with this strawberry filling. Frost cupcakes with vanilla frosting and top with a fresh strawberry.
These cupcakes are reminiscent of a favorite candy bar. Fill and frost chocolate cupcakes with coconut frosting, add a drizzle of dark chocolate ganache on top and sprinkle with shredded or toasted coconut. To make the coconut frosting, add ½ teaspoon coconut extract (or to your liking) to 3 cups of vanilla frosting and blend with a spoon.
Death by Chocolate
Chocolate and raspberries are an iconic combination. Core the cupcakes and reserve the cupcake centers. Add ½ cup of fresh raspberries to 2 cups of vanilla frosting. Blend well by hand to create pink raspberry filling. Fill the cupcakes. Cover filling with reserved piece of cored center. Place cupcakes in the freezer to firm. Warm a bowl of dark chocolate ganache. Dip top of the well-chilled cupcakes into the ganache. Place on a plate or in the refrigerator to set. Drizzle with dark chocolate ganache and top with a fresh raspberry.
Fill and frost chocolate cupcakes with espresso frosting. To make it, add 1 to 2 teaspoons coffee extract to 3 cups vanilla frosting. Drizzle cupcakes with dark chocolate ganache. Top with a few espresso beans.
Blend 3 cups of vanilla frosting with ½ teaspoon of peppermint extract. (Peppermint extract goes a long way. Want more peppermint flavor? Add a little bit at a time.) Fill and frost chocolate cupcakes. Add a drizzle of dark chocolate ganache on top. To create a cupcake that looks like a chocolate dipped ice cream cone, frost the cupcakes and place in the freezer until completely firm. Dip frosted cupcake in warm dark chocolate ganache and set in the refrigerator or freezer 5 to 10 minutes.
These cupcakes use sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter to create delicious chocolate-peanut butter-style flavor without the peanuts. To make sunflower frosting, combine ½ to 1 cup creamy sunflower seed butter (or to taste) to 3 cups of vanilla frosting. Fill and frost chocolate cupcakes and drizzle with dark chocolate ganache.
Combine ¼ cup each blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and chopped strawberries with 2 cups of vanilla frosting and fill cupcakes. Frost with either vanilla or chocolate frosting. Top with fresh berries.
Learn how to make this extra special dairy-free cupcake frosting with these simple step-by-step instructions!
How to Core and Fill Cupcakes
It’s easy to create an amazing variety of swoon-worthy cupcakes using flavorful fillings and frostings.
To fill cupcakes, hollow them out by gently plunging an apple corer into each cupcake center. (For cupcakes that will be topped with ganache, reserve the cupcake center.) Fill a plastic pastry bag* with filling and gently squeeze the filling into the center of each cupcake—just until filled. Don’t overfill the cupcakes or they may fall apart. (If topping with ganache, press a bit of the reserved cupcake center in the palm of your hand to create a flat, round disc. Place the disc on the center of the cupcake to cover the filling.) Frost cupcakes as desired and chill until served.
*TIP: Pastry bags are available at craft stores or you can use a plastic sandwich bag with a corner cut off.
Diane Kittle is the owner of Dee’s One Smart Cookie, a gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free bakery in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Most of her bakery items are also egg-free and corn-free. She has been a contributor since 2008.