Gluten-Free Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcake Buffet

Happy Monday.

This recipe came about when I found out that Lupe turned down a cupcake at a class party. While she can have gluten, it causes her eczema to flare up so badly that she decides it isn’t worth the discomfort. Which means she has a lot more will power than her mother. Which also means she deserves a gluten-free cupcake that rocks her world.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin tins with paper cups. Depending on how much batter you pour into each paper, you’ll get between 22-24 cupcakes.

Sift 1 1/4 cups of gluten-free flour blend, 1/2 cup baking cocoa, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking soda in a bowl.

Beat 1/2 cup of room temperature butter on medium speed for several minutes, or until smooth. Add 1 1/2 cups of sugar and beat until all the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is fluffy. Add 3 extra large eggs and blend well, followed by 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Combine 3/4 cup buttermilk with 1/4 cup water in a measuring cup. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk/water mixture to the mixer, mixing well after each addition.

Pour slightly more than 1/4 cup but less than 1/3 a cup of batter into each muffin paper. These puppies rise and spread, so even 1/3 a cup of batter causes them to have muffin top. Which, strangely enough, is the same thing that happens to me after taste-testing too many cupcakes.

Bake at 350 degrees 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin and cool on a wire rack.

Then it’s time for buttercream frosting. For a good basic buttercream, cream 1 cup of softened but still chilled butter for several minutes on medium high speed, until it’s very smooth.

Turn off the mixer and add 3 cups of powdered sugar that you’ve sifted. I like to put my powdered sugar in a fine sieve and push it through with a wooden spoon or measuring cup. None of that gentle shaking to coax the lumps out nonsense. Turn the mixer on low speed, gradually increasing the speed to medium.

Add 3 tablespoons of milk (or more if you want a thinner frosting) and a pinch of salt and mix well.

And that’s a good basic buttercream. If you want to create different flavors, then divide the frosting into the desired amounts in separate bowls and:

1. Go minty: add 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract for every 1/4 cup of frosting. Stir well. Garnish with mint leaves. This will give you a strong but not overpowering mint flavor. Play with the ratio to find the one that’s right for you.

2. Go chocolaty: add 1/4 cup of sifted cocoa powder for every cup of frosting. Usually you would add it with the powdered sugar, but I wanted to stretch one batch of frosting into several flavor options. And it mixes up just fine. You could also add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract.

A few other notes on frosting:

1. If you want a thicker frosting, apply with care. It tears up those crumbly gluten-free cupcakes something fierce. And then you have to eat the destroyed cupcakes to hide the evidence.

2. Actually, I use the torn-up cupcakes and turn them into an homage to one of my favorite cakes: the Brooklyn Blackout. Just crumble up a cupcake and sprinkle it over the tops of some frosted cupcakes. It’s the baked goods equivalent of taking one for the team.

3. This frosting thins beautifully with a little more milk.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes

makes 18-24


1 1/4 cups gluten-free flour blend

1/2 cup baking cocoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup room temperature butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 extra large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup water


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tins with paper.

2. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl.

3. Beat butter on medium speed several minutes, or until smooth. Add sugar and blend until all sugar is incorporated and mixture is fluffy.

4. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well.

5. Combine buttermilk and water in a measuring cup.

6. Alternately add dry ingredients and buttermilk/water mixture to butter/sugar/egg mixture, blending well after each addition.

7. Fill each cupcake paper (I usually go 3/4 of the way up) and bake 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from muffin tin and cool on a wire rack.

Buttercream Frosting

frosts up to 24 cupcakes


1 cup butter, softened but still slightly chilled

3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3-5 tablespoons of milk


1. Beat butter on medium-high speed for several minutes, or until it is very smooth. Turn off beater.

2. Add sifted confectioners’ sugar to butter and slowly work mixer speed up to medium. When the butter and sugar are well blended, add 3 tablespoons of milk and continue to mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add more milk if you prefer a thinner frosting.


Mint Buttercream Frosting:

1. Add 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract to every 1/4 cup of finished buttercream frosting you plan to use. Stir well.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

1. Add 1/4 cup sifted cocoa and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract to every 1 cup of finished buttercream frosting you plan to use. Stir well.

Brooklyn Blackout

1. Sprinkle crumbled cupcake on top of a chocolate-frosted chocolate cupcake.

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