These chocolate cupcakes with strawberry frosting start with moist, fudgy chocolate cake. Then they’re topped with creamy strawberry buttercream that’s made with fresh strawberries.
Not just any cupcake…but no doubt one of the best cupcakes we’ve ever eaten!
Just in time for Valentine’s Day…
Guidelines For Baking Cupcakes and Cakes
- Read the recipe at least two times all the way through. Read the first time to get a basic understanding of the ingredients needed and recipe procedures. Read the second time to check that you have all the ingredients and tools and plan your time. See what tasks need to be done, or can be done, ahead of time.
- Prepare your mise en place.
- Prepare your muffin pan by lining with muffin liners or lightly greasing the muffin cavities.
- Set your oven racks. Cupcakes should be baked in the upper third of the oven, just above the middle rack. This encourages doming. Cakes bake on the middle rack.
- Allow time for your oven to preheat.
- Do not make the batter until the oven is at the proper temperature. If a recipe contains baking soda, the leavening starts when the baking soda, acidic ingredient, and liquid are mixed. If the oven is not ready, the cupcakes will lose leavening power waiting for the oven to preheat and the finished cupcakes will not rise like they should.
- If you fill the liners too full, the cupcakes will overflow. Filling too full also results in crisp mushroom tops and sinking in the center. Fill the liners 2/3’s to 3/4’s full. We use a level scoop using the number 20 portion scoop which is often identified by the color yellow. This ensures we don’t overfill the muffin pan and each cupcake is uniform in size.
Let’s Get Started
First of all, this recipe is a modification of Catherine Ruehle’s chocolate cake. For the cupcake batter, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum (if not already in gluten-free flour blend), and salt. Whisk to combine.
In a medium bowl, lightly whisk together flax eggs, alternative milk, oil, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and mix on low for 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula, and mix on medium-low for 1 minute. Pour in coffee and mix on low for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides and bottom and mix again on medium-low for 30 seconds more, until smooth.
Coffee In My Chocolate Cake?
If you bake chocolate cake or cupcakes often, you may have seen recipes that call for coffee. Coffee is a great way to enhance the flavor of cocoa powder, resulting in a more chocolaty cake, not a coffee-flavored one.
Fill the cupcake liners 2/3’s to 3/4’s full. Bake in an oven preheated to 350°F for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
When cupcakes are finished baking, remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Condensation may collect on the bottom of the cupcakes if left in the pan for too long, which will result in cupcakes with soggy bottoms.
Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and set on wire rack to finish cooling. It is normal that allergy-friendly cupcakes are more fragile than their wheat counterpart.
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, they can be refrigerated or frozen. We made ours a day ahead and stored them in the fridge until we were ready to frost them.
A quick version is made by whipping vegan butter with confectioners’ sugar, a little vanilla, and pureed strawberries. It’s that simple.
To decorate, trim the bottom of a piping bag and insert an open round tip. For easy filling, put the bag into a tall jar. Fold the bag down around the container and fill bag with buttercream not more than 2/3 full. Push the filling down into the tip to eliminate air pockets.
Start on one of the edges of the cupcake and pipe the icing around and hug the outside of the cupcake. When the buttercream meets, pull it in and go three rotations, bringing the buttercream to the center. When the cupcake is covered, pull up.
Decorate the cupcakes using your favorite method. There are so many different decorating tips that make fun finishes for cupcakes.
Chef Mary’s Tip About Cocoa Powder
Cocoa powder is available in two forms, non-alkalized (or natural) and alkalized (or Dutch process).
Non-Alkalized, aka Natural Cocoa is untreated cocoa powder that has a more acidic taste. If baking soda is called for in a recipe, use natural cocoa powder as the recipe relies on the acidity of natural cocoa powder to react with baking soda in order to leaven (expansion or rising of the batter).
Alkalized, aka Dutch Process is cocoa treated with an alkali to neutralize its acids. It does not react with baking soda alone. Dutch process cocoa is darker than natural cocoa, but has a mellower flavor.
Recipes should specify natural or Dutch process cocoa. The two cocoa powders are not interchangeable in batter-based desserts. For these delicious cupcakes we used Hershey’s natural, non-alkalized cocoa powder.
Check out the amazing crumb, aka the interior of the cupcakes.
We really minimize our sweets and sugar intake. But for those times of celebration or when we just need a cupcake, these will be our go-to cupcakes. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
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Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
Yield 12 Standard Cupcakes
Free of: gluten and top 8 allergens.
The best moist and fudgy chocolate cupcakes!
4 tbsp lukewarm water
4 tsp flaxseed meal
1-1/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups cane sugar
2/3 cup natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (omit if using flour blend that contains xanthan gum)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup alternative milk, such as unsweetened hemp milk
1/3 cup melted and cooled coconut oil
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot coffee
1/2 cup vegan butter, such as Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Sticks
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted (see recipe notes)
3-4 tbsp strawberry puree (see recipe notes)
- For the batter, position an oven rack in the top third of the oven, just above the middle rack. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Line a 12-cavity, standard cupcake pan with paper liners or lightly grease cavities. Set aside.
- Make the flax eggs by whisking together the water and flaxseed meal in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour and sugar. Sift the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and xanthan gum into the bowl. Add the salt and whisk the dry ingredients together.
- Return to the flaxseed eggs and whisk vigorously. To the flax eggs add milk, coconut oil, and vanilla. Whisk lightly to combine.
- Add the flax egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix on low for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, and mix on medium-low for 1 minute. Pour the coffee into the batter and carefully mix on low for 30 seconds, being careful the coffee doesn't splash out. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl and mix on medium-low for another 30 seconds until smooth.
- Portion the batter into the muffin liners, filling no more than 2/3's to 3/4's full. We like to use a #20 yellow portion scoop. Overfilling will result in crisp mushroom tops and sinking in the center.
- Bake in the top third of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on the wire rack to cool completely. It is normal for allergy-friendly cupcakes to be more fragile than their wheat counterparts.
- When completely cool, the cupcakes are best stored in the fridge for up to 2 days before decorating. The cupcakes can also be wrapped and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- For the buttercream, place the vegan butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low to blend. Increase the speed and beat until the mixture is creamy and light, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time.
- Lower the speed and begin adding the confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, increasing to medium-high after each addition. Once the mixture gets dry, add 1 tablespoon of strawberry puree. Continue to add remaining sugar, 1/2 cup at a time and strawberry puree, beating for about 3-4 minutes. Add just enough puree to reach a buttercream of a consistency you desire.
- The buttercream is ready to use. Store, airtight, at room temperature until ready to decorate (see recipe notes). The buttercream yields 2 cups.
- For a plain buttercream, replace the strawberry puree with an alternative milk. To color plain buttercream, a variety of commercially-prepared natural, vegetable-based colors are available. Some are liquid and some are powdered. Natural colors are not as vibrant as the chemical-laden, artificial colors.
Sifting Confectioners' Sugar
- Sifting the sugar prevents the buttercream from being grainy. Organic confectioners' sugar is coarser than conventional confectioners' sugar and should be sifted twice.
- To make the strawberry puree for the buttercream, rinse and core 4-6 strawberries. Place in a blender or food processor and blend until you have a puree, about 30 seconds. If you don't want seeds in your buttercream, put the puree through a metal sieve.
- To decorate, trim the bottom of a piping bag and insert an open round tip. For easy filling, put the bag into a tall jar. Fold the bag down around the container and fill bag with buttercream not more than 2/3 full. Push the filling down into the tip to eliminate air pockets.
- Start on one of the edges of the cupcake and pipe the icing around, hugging the outside of the cupcake. When the buttercream meets, pull it in and pipe three rotations, bringing the buttercream to the center. When the cupcake is covered, pull up.
This cupcake batter is a modification of Catherine Ruehle's Chocolate Cake.