Friday, 5 April 2013

Chocolate Cup Cakes for Easter - gluten free

Easter wouldn't be Easter without all things chocolate. I can't get enough of the melty, brown, creamy, gooey, sweet stuff. So if there's an excuse to eat it ...... as a bar ..... in a mug ..... as an egg ..... in a cake ...... I'll take it. And finding (or inventing) new recipes to enjoy it, is all part of the game.
I am a true chocoholic. After I had my beautiful baby, I squirrelled boxes of the stuff in cupboards and ate it when my husband wasn't around. I even refilled the boxes, just in case he found them and realised what I was doing ......shameful! These days I am a little more controlled, but a cake with chocolate is still my favourite.

So this Easter, I tried a new cupcake recipe. They're soft, squidgy, moist, chocolatey and delicious. I've added some ground almonds to give them a nutty bite and they mature beautifully over a couple of days (assuming you make enough for them to last that long).
I smothered them with a bunch of delicious and colourful icings, carefully chosen to compliment the chocolate, - orange, vanilla, strawberry and mint and topped with an Easter Mini Egg treat ..... Yum!

Chocolate Sponge (makes about 24 cupcakes)

280g Alchemist flour mix A (from this post), or a commercial gluten free blend          
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda                   
2 teaspoons GF baking powder                     
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum (1/2 teaspoon less if using commercial blend with xanthan added)                    
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt                                 
60g cocoa                                                 
115 ml hot water                                             
360ml milk
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
160g unsalted butter (room temperature)
430g caster sugar
3 large eggs (room temperature)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla essence
160g ground almonds



  1. Preheat the oven to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4. Line two 12-hole cupcake tins with cupcake cases (large).
  2. In a medium sized bowl, weigh, sift and mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt and set aside.
  3. In a smaller bowl, weigh the cocoa powder, sifting to remove any lumps. Gradually add the hot water a little at a time, stirring to form a smooth paste. Set aside.
  4. Combine and stir the milk and vinegar in a jug and leave to stand.
  5. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric whisk until light, fluffy and pale in colour.
  6. Beat in the eggs one at a time, ensuring they are well mixed.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and cocoa paste and beat thoroughly.
  8. Using a large spoon or spatula, fold in the ground almonds until fully mixed.
  9. Gently fold in the flour mix alternately with the milk-vinegar mixture about a third at a time, ensuring all ingredients are JUST combined. It is important not to over mix.

  10. Spoon the mixture evenly into the cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean and the tops are soft and spring back.
  11. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before decorating.

Vanilla & Orange Italian Butter Creams (taken and adapted from a recipe in Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes - Kelli & Peter Bronski (2011))

135g caster sugar
+ 1/2 tablespoon caster sugar (keep separate)
60ml water
2 large egg whites (room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
360g unsalted butter (room temperature (cut into small cubes))
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

I divided the mixture at stage 8 and added :
- for the vanilla topping - an additional teaspoon vanilla extract to one half
- for the orange topping - 1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract (or to taste) & a touch of red and yellow food dye (to desired colour) to the other half


  1. Put the water and 135g sugar in a small heavy-based saucepan and stir.
  2. Using a candy thermometer, heat the mixture to 240⁰ F, without stirring.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites and salt using a stand mixer at medium-high speed until frothy.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar to the egg whites and whisk until soft peaks form. Turn the mixer off and leave to stand until the sugar mixture has reached temperature.
  5. When the sugar mix reaches 240⁰ F, set the mixer to run at medium speed and slowly drizzle the sugar mixture down the inside of the bowl, into the egg whites.
  6. When all the sugar is added, continue to whisk until the mixture is cool (approx. 10 minutes).
  7. When cool, continue to whisk at medium speed and add the butter about 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate before adding more.
  8. Add the flavourings (vanilla / orange oil etc.) and colouring and mix to combine.
  9. Hand beat with a spoon to remove any last air-bubbles before spreading on your cakes.



Butter Icing - Mint or Strawberry

120g unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
approx. 400g icing sugar (sifted)

Divide the mixture at stage 3 and for :
Mint - add 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (or to taste) + a couple of drops of green food dye (to desired colour) and approx. 2 tablespoons almond (or cows) milk to desired consistency.

Strawberry - add about 2 tablespoons strawberry sauce (recipe below).


  1. Beat the butter until smooth.
  2. Gradually add and beat in the icing sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the milk / sauce or other flavourings and colours as required to achieve desired taste and consistency.
  4. If the icing appears too stiff, add a little extra milk / sauce to achieve the desired spreading consistency, or beat in a little extra icing sugar if too soft.

Strawberry Sauce (makes more than you need for flavouring the butter icing, so either freeze or refrigerate what's left and drizzle over your cupcakes or ice-cream as you choose)

30g caster sugar
40ml water
2 teaspoons corn flour
180g (hulled weight) strawberries - sliced


  1. Mix the water and corn flour in a saucepan.
  2. Add the sugar and strawberries and heat gently, stirring, until the mixture begins to simmer.
  3. Continue to simmer for about 3 minutes until the mixture becomes clear and thickens slightly.
  4. Remove from the heat and blend to produce a smooth puree.
  5. Allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate until ready to use.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated.

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