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Gluten-Free Fun with Mini Cupcakes

Updated: Feb 11, 2023

Gluten-free diners rarely have the joy of choosing among lots of safe options on the dessert table. For a recent gluten-free family celebration, I baked 220 mini chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, with 7 different icings, enabling lots of fun permutations. Cupcake decorating became a pre-party activity for my houseguests. It was such a hit that I thought I’d share it with my GFFs!

As noted in my earlier post, Annalise Robert’s GF Baking Classics is our family’s go-to baking book. To bake with this cookbook, you need xanthan gum and Authentic Foods GF Classical Blend flour blend. I baked and froze the mini cupcakes and frostings the week before the event.

I already had mini muffin pans and decorative tips, but decided to purchase:

The Mini Cupcakes

I baked two of Annalise’s two-layer cake recipes in lined mini muffin pans. The Yellow Layer Cake recipe made 120 mini cupcakes and the Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe made 100 mini cupcakes. These volumes assume that you are making very small cupcakes. To keep them bite-sized and maximize volume, I used a single cookie dough scoop (approximately 1 TB) in each mini-cupcake liner. Baking on convection at 325 enabled me to stack the pans on two racks in my oven. Mine took about 10 minutes to bake but follow Annalise’s guidelines for testing doneness. If you don’t have a convection oven, bake at 350 one rack at a time. Once cooled, keep the cupcakes in their liners and freeze them in Tupperware with parchment paper between the layers.

The Frostings, Yum!

Coffee, Vanilla, Maple, Lemon, Mint, Mocha & Chocolate

So it doesn’t fly all over, add the confectioners sugar slowly after the liquid ingredients blend with the margarine. It took me years to figure this out:).

Grandma Pearl’s Coffee Icing

  • One box confectioners sugar (16 oz)

  • 1 stick softened margarine/butter (½ cup)

  • About 5 TB cooled strong coffee (start with 3 TB and add one at a time until desired texture)

Mocha: Separate out some coffee icing and add Hershey's cocoa to taste

Chocolate: See the recipe on the back of Hershey’s cocoa:)

For these variations, replace the coffee in Grandma's Pearl's recipe with the specified ingredients:

Vanilla: 1tsp vanilla, 3 TBSP milk

Maple: 1tsp maple extract, 3 TBSP milk, a tad real maple syrup (optional)

Lemon: 1 tsp lemon extract, 3 TBSP milk, lemon zest, yellow food coloring (optional)

Mint: 1 tsp mint extract, 3 TBSP milk, green food coloring (optional)

I used unsweetened original almond milk and margarine, instead of milk and butter, because of some lactose intolerant guests. I made half recipes for everything except coffee (our favorite) and vanilla (can accent differently for very different flavors, e.g. coconut vs. sprinkles). Freeze the frostings in labeled Tupperware. Take them out of the freezer the night before decorating day so they are room temperature. Leftover icing can be refrozen.

Decorating Day Tips

  • Keep cupcakes frozen and in their liners, and place them in their transport containers before decorating

  • Plan which cupcake/icing combos you want, and the quantities of each. You may want to purchase additional toppings ahead of time. For example, vanilla cupcakes with maple icing and crushed walnuts are one of our favorites. (Trader Joe’s has walnuts without wheat or peanut warnings)

  • Use consistent decoration for those of the same type so it's easy to identify them

  • Before loading up pastry bags, place the chosen tip and inner part of the coupler inside the bag. Cut bag so it can poke through and then attach the rest of coupler so it's secure. Rollback the edges a few times, load the icing, and then unroll and twist closed

  • Let your helpers be creative and have fun!

The leftover iced cupcakes froze very well. For a smaller crowd, try it with a single cake layer.

Special thanks to my visiting Virginia cousin, Shayna, for contributing her decorating skills to this project and being a very patient teacher. You are awesome, Shayna! Grandma Pearl would be so proud.

Happy gluten-free baking,


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