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For my most recent birthday, we celebrated with a huge Steampunk Hat Birthday Cake that I made just for fun. I wanted to unveil it for some friends we invited over to dinner. The only caveat was that while he could eat it, she could not. My friend is gluten free (GF) for health reasons and I didn’t want her to be left out. So I set out to find a treat for her to eat while we had our cake.
The chocolate buttercream from the hat cake was already gluten free so that was half the equation solved. But I wanted to find an easy cupcake recipe that would compliment the frosting. In thinking about flavors, coffee and chocolate always go together! A coffee inspired chocolate cupcake sounded like a perfect pairing with the rich chocolate buttercream frosting. So I decided gluten free mocha cupcakes would be the best option.
Gluten Free Baking is Hard!
Only recently have I attempted to do some gluten free baking. I originally just set out to do Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls for this same friend. If you haven’t tried it, gluten free baking is so difficult to do well. And because of that, I find it an interesting challenge to take on to make good GF baked goodies.
Since my sweet friend was the only one eating the GF cupcakes, I only wanted to do a small batch, especially because it required only a short amount of time while I also worked on my birthday cake. The quick and easy recipe was just what I needed.
While they aren’t quite as amazing as a gluten filled cupcake, my friend found these gluten free mocha cupcakes more than adequate for a birthday cake substitution. They’re a little gummy but with a little extra mixing and another minute of two of baking you can cut down on that. You’re never going to get a perfect substitution for regular cupcakes with gluten free ingredients, but really, for a from-scratch homemade cupcake this is really pretty good.
The mocha part of the cupcake is a nice strong brewed coffee. I use warm coffee in both the cupcake batter and the chocolate buttercream. As usual, I enjoyed using one of the varieties of Java Momma coffees. I again used the Highlander Grogg because of the heady scent of rum and nuts and the strong, incredible flavor.
The simple decoration for these cupcakes is a sprinkle of Sunny Side Up Bakery gold confetti from Hobby Lobby which is also gluten free. The gold color sets off the rich chocolate brown and gives just a hint of pizzazz. Plus it matches the decorations of my Steampunk Hat Birthday Cake perfectly!
Small Batch Gluten Free Mocha Cupcakes
For the Cupcakes
- 1 cup gluten free all-purpose flour *I use Pillsbury brand
- 6 Tbsp warm, strong brewed coffee
- ¾ tsp Xantham Gum
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 4 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 4 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
For the Buttercream
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 Tbsp warm strong brewed coffee
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 oz Ghiradelli dark chocolate wafers melted
- 1 lb powdered sugar, sifted roughly 2 cups
- ½ cup cocoa powder
To Make Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350° and lightly spray a cupcake pan and place a liner in each cup.
- In a stand mixer bowl, sift together flour, xantham gum, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and whisk in sugar. Form a well in the middle.
- In a measuring cup, add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Whisk together and pour into the well of the dry ingredients.
- With the paddle attachment, mix everything together on low. Add in coffee and mix for 2 minutes on medium.
- Fill cupcake liners about ⅔ full with batter and bake for 15-19 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
To Make Chocolate Buttercream
- In a stand mixer, beat the butter, salt and vanilla until the butter is nice and fluffy.
- Add in the melted chocolate and beat until well incorporated, about 1 minute.
- Sift powdered sugar and cocoa powder together in a separate bowl. Incorporate mixture a quarter at a time into the buttercream, scraping down the sides after each addition.
- Buttercream should be fairly dry. Turn mixer on low and add warm coffee.
- Make sure to scrape down the entire bowl and beat the buttercream an additional 5 minutes. Until buttercream is smooth and fluffy.
- You can frost cupcakes by spreading buttercream on top of cupcakes with a spatula or use a piping bag and desired tip for something more decorative.