Gluten-Free & Vegan Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes

by Maggie on September 21, 2010

I present these cupcakes in honour of three very important occasions!

1) Callum’s 4th birthday party – if you follow me on twitter you know that Callum is obsessed with pirates.

2) This Friday, September 24th is my one year BLOGIVERSARY- is that word in the dictionary yet?

3) Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free – this month’s excellent and timely theme is Healthy School Lunches.

I made these pirate cupcakes (okay, go to Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom if you want super-amazing decoration skills) for Callum’s 4th birthday party.

His party was going to be my first gluten-free shindig. Not a crumb of gluten to be found. So I wanted a really good cupcake recipe that everyone would enjoy. Not a hard task since gluten-free is so yummy.  And it was a success, thanks to these delightful little cupcakes.

I also wanted a cupcake that wasn’t loaded with sugary junk, in fact I wanted a cupcake that was free of refined sugars. Callum’s guests were my guinea pigs. Lucky them! And they were happy little guinea pigs.

Isn’t he cute?

Healthy Cupcakes?

These cupcakes are great because they’re easy to make, they’re free of refined sugars, and they’re made with almond flour so he gets some extra nutrients. Little does he know!

When Callum goes to school, I know I’ll want to put little homemade treats into his lunch bag. These would make for a perfect snack – a healthy cupcake. In fact, his little buddies will be jealous when he pulls out a cupcake at snack time.

I like to make cupcakes every time we’re invited to a birthday party.  This ensures that my sensitive little dude gets to enjoy a cupcake with his friends and family. Did you know that you can freeze a cupcake that’s already been frosted. Oh yes you can!

These chocolate cupcakes taste great with traditional icing. But in light of my one-year blogiversary, Callum and I frosted them with some sweet chocolate cashew cream icing (recipe below).

If you were sending these delightful cupcakes to school with a healthy lunch, you could frost them with chocolate avocado pudding and your kiddie would get a serving of veggies with his cupcake. What would Jamie Oliver say about that?

Gluten-Free & Vegan Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes

Based on my original cupcake recipe

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup tapioca starch or arrowroot flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1 cup almond flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp xanthan/guar gum

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used raw cacao)

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray or line a cupcake pan with liners.

Combine the non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar in a large bowl to create a “buttermilk”.  Let this mixture sit for at least five minutes.

Sift together flours and remaining dry ingredients.  It is important that you sift – no one wants a white lump in their chocolate cupcake!

Add the maple syrup, vanilla and oil to the non-dairy milk “buttermilk”.  Stir to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches.  Stir just until combined.  Spoon into cupcake pan (a little more than 3/4 full since they don’t rise very much) and bake for 20-22 minutes.  Test one cupcake with a cake tester or a knife.


Dairy-Free Sweet Chocolate Cashew Cream Recipe

1 cup soaked raw cashews (I soak mine for 24 hours in filtered water simply because my Vitamix won’t be here until December 25th, right Santa Pete?)

5 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips melted with 1 tbsp of dairy-free chocolate milk

Place drained cashews in the bowl of your food processor (or if you’re really super amazingly lucky, in your Vitamix) and whiz until cashews are in small little bits.

Add maple syrup and whiz again until combined, this will also help make your icing smooth.

Add the melted chocolate and whiz until combined.

Note: this icing is not overly sweet and it has a nice nutty flavour. It goes so well with the cupcakes. Together they’re a yummy afternoon (or breakfast) treat.

How about this?

  • add 1 tbsp of grated orange zest to jazz up the cupcakes
  • frost with chocolate avocado pudding and add 1/2 tsp of almond extract to the pudding
  • No nuts at your school? Try substituting the almond flour with quinoa flour
  • These cupcakes are also linked up to Go Ahead Honey It’s Gluten-Free: Healthy School Lunches which is being hosted this month by Ali from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen. This excellent gluten-free blogging event was originally started by Naomi of Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried.

    Speaking of healthy school lunches, have you heard about the amazing Alisa’s FREE ebook Smart School Time Recipes? Yes, FREE! It’s loaded with all kinds of recipes; gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and more. It’s the perfect book of recipes for anyone who packs a lunch. And it’s FREE so what are you waiting for?

    And as always, this recipe is linked to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. She’s got a new look this week so be sure to check it out!

This post is also linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie September 21, 2010 at 8:46 pm

What cute cupcakes! I love that you used almond flour in them and cashew cream frosting. YUM!!


Maggie September 22, 2010 at 8:51 am

Thanks so much Stephanie! They were really yummy! Callum had one for breakfast this morning and I was fine with that! Lucky boy!


Valerie @ City|Life|Eats September 21, 2010 at 9:18 pm

OMG these are brilliant. I am always on the lookout for almond flour recipes that are vegan and free of refined sugar. Thanks so much for posting this!


Maggie September 22, 2010 at 8:53 am

Hi Valerie – You’re welcome! I’m excited about these too, for the same reasons. And Callum keeps asking for some – even without the icing, which makes me so happy!


Valerie @ City|Life|Eats September 21, 2010 at 9:19 pm

And Happy Birthday to Callum 🙂


Maggie September 22, 2010 at 8:53 am

Thanks Valerie!


Zoe @ Z's Cup of Tea September 21, 2010 at 9:51 pm

“Aww!” was the first thing I said when I saw the pirate cupcake – too cute! That’s the second birthday thing this week (first was the monkey cake on Smitten Kitchen) I’ve seen that are just too cute. And that’s saying a lot as I’m not usually immediately smitten with cute desserts or baked goods that I see on a screen.

Happy birthday, Callum! 🙂


Maggie September 22, 2010 at 10:02 am

Hi Zoe – Thank you for the birthday wishes for Callum! I think I’ll have to check out this monkey cake!


Linda September 22, 2010 at 8:37 am

Those are adorable! I love that you’ve made a healthy cupcake for your son, and yes, he is adorable too. Thanks for participating in Gluten-Free Wednesdays.


Celiacs in the House September 22, 2010 at 9:20 am

Sneaky and adorable little pirates. Extra mom points for you!


Katie September 22, 2010 at 10:34 am

Wow! One year! Congratulations Sista!


Heidi @adventuresofaglutenfreemom September 22, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Too Cute Maggie, I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the pirate cupcakes (especially the “healthy” part)! Will you be my mom too?

Happy one year blogiversary too! Can you believe I totally forgot mine back in June? I need a vacation to Canada. 😀



Maggie September 23, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Hi Heidi! Yes, I will be your Mom too. But you have to bring your boys because they’re so darned cute. I know a great place you can stay when you come to Canada – my HOUSE! Very willing to meet your dietary needs. xo


gfe--gluten free easily September 22, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Too cute, Maggie! I mean the cupcakes and your son! 🙂 Congrats on your big anniversary. I had no idea you were a newbie on blogging or just having your first gf shindig–you appear to be both a pro and a veteran! 😉



Maggie September 23, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Ah, thank you Shirley. I’m honoured that you thought I was a veteran! Thanks for the compliments. xo


Iris September 23, 2010 at 12:11 am

Happy blogiversary and happy birthday to Callum!


Maggie September 23, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Thanks Iris! Hope you’re settling into Seattle okay.


Ricki September 23, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Those cupcakes are adorable! And congrats on your blogiversary (which really SHOULD be in the dictionary by now!). The cashew cream frosting sounds great, too. 🙂


Rachel April 2, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I just found your site, looking for something special to make for my two-year-old son, and boy is he in luck! I made these cupcakes today, and I had to restrain myself and others in the house not to eat them all. The texture is better than any gluten chocolate cake I have ever made. I was wondering if I could use this recipe, replace the cocoa with some sorghum, and add blueberries for a blueberry cupcake. What do you think? I am relatively new to the gf world, and my son has an egg and soy intolerance as well, so I have not yet found a basic white cupcake recipe. Sorry about the novel:(

Thanks again for a great recipe.


Maggie April 4, 2011 at 5:29 am

Hi Rachel! Yay! Thank you so much for sharing this comment! I am so happy. I think you could definitely try the sorghum sub, a blueberry cupcake sounds awesome. I do have a white cupcake recipe I’m just not ready to blog it quite yet! Email me if you want the recipe


Lynn Peterson April 7, 2011 at 1:32 am

That pirate cupcake is the cutest ever! I couldn’t help but smile as soon as I saw it! Absolutely adorable and perfect for a four year old birthday! Your recipe looks delicious, too!


Maggie April 7, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Hi Lynn! Thank you, Callum was pretty happy with them! And so was I.


Kelly July 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Can you suggest any substitutions for the maple syrup?



Maggie July 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Hey Kelly – Although I haven’t done it myself, I would try another liquid sweetener – honey, agave, or brown rice syrup. Or you could play around a little and use less flour, then you could try palm sugar. I do have another chocolate cupcake recipe that calls for cane sugar. You could use palm sugar instead, that recipe is just not as high in protein flours.
Let me know how it goes!


Kelly July 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm

P.S. I would still want to use an unrefined sweetener. Wondering about coconut (palm) sugar.


Kelly July 7, 2011 at 8:16 pm

THANKS! I think I’m gong to make a batch of each and taste test them this weekend to see which ones my daughter and husband like best. My daughter turns 5 at the end of the month and wants chocolate cupcakes for her birthday! I will let you know how it goes. I may try an agave substitution I saw that involves using a combo of palm sugar and water.


Maggie July 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Okay Kelly, let me know how the taste-testing goes!


Annie October 27, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Hey Maggie, just thought I’d let you know that I made these puppies tonight and they are SO good on their own that I’m not even going to ice them. With all due respect to Baby Cakes NYC they blow their cupcakes out of the water!


Maggie October 28, 2011 at 9:05 pm

You’re the best Annie! These are pretty awesome. But frosting is just SO GOOD! And oh my, thank you so much for the compliment. xooxxoxo


Jenny January 12, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Help! I made these as a combination between your original recipe that you linked to and this one. My changes were to use organic cane sugar in place of the maple syrup and dairy milk. They looked great at the halfway baking point but then fell before the finished time. I pulled them out at 18 minutes and they had sink holes in them. What went wrong? They look horrible but taste good 🙂


Maggie January 12, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Hi Jenny – I am guessing your changes were the reason the cupcakes fell. It’s difficult to go from a liquid (maple syrup) to a granulated sugar (cane sugar) without really altering the recipe. Since I don’t use cow’s milk, I’m not sure how that change would alter the end result. I hope you enjoy them though, they sound like molten cakes!


Farzana March 26, 2012 at 10:18 pm

oh my gosh, i so love you right now LOL! I was looking for a gluten free vegan chocolate muffin ! You say you can use Quinoa flour instead. I wonder if I will have to adjust the liquids or anything. Have you personally tried it yourself? I really cannot wait to try this 🙂


Maggie March 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Hey Farzana – You bet I’ve tried it. I generally make a different cupcake every time. Have you made muffins or cupcakes before? Enjoy!


Kim April 4, 2012 at 7:52 am

I’m new to the GF baking thing, as my son was just diagnosed this past week. However we also have 10 other allergies/1 intolerance to work around. What flour would be ok to substitute for the almond flour? (VERY allergic to almonds/pecans – so no tree nuts here) Thanks so much for a yummy looking recipe! Can’t wait to try it out!!


Kim April 4, 2012 at 7:54 am

Oops!! Nevermind! Just saw your note at the bottom! Thanks SO much!! Going to go try this out now!


Maggie April 4, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Hey Kim – How’d the cupcakes turn out? Glad you figured it out 🙂


Mélanie January 24, 2013 at 10:26 am

These are delicious! They taste like regular cupcakes! I love that they are so healthy (for a cupcake) and nutrient dense, with the almond flour and maple syprup. So yum! Amd I love the cashew cream “icing”. I could eat it with a spoon. (Actually, I have 🙂


Maggie January 24, 2013 at 4:11 pm

You’re back 🙂 Thanks so much for your feedback! I’ve eaten it like that too 🙂


Angie March 5, 2013 at 11:55 am

Thank you,Maggie! I will be making these this week with my 2 year old! Perfect recipe for our family!


Maggie March 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Awesome Angie! Let me know how it goes!


Angie March 29, 2013 at 11:05 am

Just remembered I forgot to report back! In a word: YUM! We loved this recipe!! Thanks again, Maggie!


Mélanie June 16, 2013 at 6:36 am

Hey Maggie, do you think the sorghum flour could be replaced by another flour? Quinoa, rice, coconut?


Mélanie June 16, 2013 at 6:38 am

Oat flour maybe?


Maggie June 16, 2013 at 7:05 am

Hey Melanie – I’ve only used sorghum flour with this recipe, but if I was in your shoes, I would try any of the ones you mentioned, except coconut. It sucks up moisture like crazy!
Let me know how it goes!


Mélanie June 16, 2013 at 11:51 am

I used the oat flour. The result is ok. They are good, but not great. They taste more like a muffin than a cupcake and they have huge sinkholes in them. I’ll just have to fill those up with the delicious icing!


Maggie June 17, 2013 at 7:41 am

Thanks for the update Melanie. I love the solution to your sinkholes 🙂 More icing! Win-win.
Oat flour is pretty heavy, so it may be the culprit. Though these are sensitive cupcakes since they’re “healthier”.
Thanks for sharing!
Have a great week,


Amanda July 31, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I’m sorry to say this recipe did not work out for me- the cupcakes fell apart upon baking. I made no adjustments in the ingredients, amount, or process so I am uncertain what happened. I was looking for a healthier cupcake option for a vegan friend’s birthday, since someone else was bringing biscotti, and have had good experiences using almond and sorghum flour in the past. I found another recipe elsewhere that produced softer, more cake-like cupcakes; perhaps more experimenting with this recipe will help next time.


Maggie August 1, 2013 at 7:54 am

Oh shoot Amanda, I’m sorry to hear that.
I’ve had many a recipe fail in the past 8 years – especially since I develop them on a regular basis! But I don’t like it when it happens to one of my readers with one of my recipes. I’m not sure what happened, as these have worked for other readers and myself many times. Almond flour can sometimes be the culprit as I find some brands to be more fine than others.
I’m glad you found another recipe that worked out for you and your friend.
Thanks for letting us know.
Have a great day,


Bernadette September 15, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Hi Maggie. I thought I’d give you a quick note about these cupcakes and the substitutions that I made that seem to work for me. I’m allergic to almonds and found the texture of sorghum a bit gritty for my liking. So, I’ve recently subbed buckwheat flour for the sorghum or rice flour and sunflower seed flour for almond. I ground both flours myself and the buckwheat seems ok but the sunflower a little heavier as I couldn’t get a real fine grind without turning it into sunflower butter. The texture with this combo is somewhere I between a cupcake and muffin, and not gritty.


Maggie September 18, 2013 at 7:21 am

Hey Bernadette – Sounds like you made some great subs, I love it when readers do that. Thanks for letting me know. Add some icing and I’m sure it’s delish! I don’t bake with canola so I can’t really speak to that, it may be the wetness of the sunflower seed flour. I find that when baking with almond flour sometimes too.
Thanks for letting us know! I really appreciate it.


Bernadette September 15, 2013 at 11:20 pm

The other thing with this recipe is that I have to extend my bake time to 50-60 minutes before my toothpick comes out almost clean. I’ve found this to be the case with other gluten free vegan recipes. Anyone have this problem? Wondering if I cut back on the amount of oil would help? Also use canola in place of coconut oil. Maybe this would be the problem? They taste good tho!


Angie October 2, 2013 at 4:19 am

Maggie, I’ve made this recipe probably 10 times. Is that bad?! So good! My little girl has a birthday next week…and I’ll be making this for the 2nd year in a row;). It is her fav. Thank you again!!


Maggie October 3, 2013 at 9:55 am

Angie – That’s not bad at all 🙂 I love reading that! Thanks for letting me know. Happy birthday to your babe!


Pip March 22, 2015 at 4:54 am

It was my son’s birthday party and I made 24 of these cupcakes, plus one round cake using the same recipe and it worked! And it rose! I add heaps of dark choc chips at the end and it gives the cakes extra deliciousness. I use rice flour instead of sorghum for a lighter texture. This recipe is an absolute winner. It will be my go-to. Thank you.


Maggie March 23, 2015 at 8:16 am

Yum! Heaps of dark choc chips sounds good to me! Thanks for letting me know Pip!


Maggie March 23, 2015 at 8:20 am

Thanks for letting us know Pip! I love the sound of dark chocolate chips. Yum!


Leave a Comment

{ 5 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: