Flower Vanilla Cupcakes – Gluten-free!

What an awesome weekend! The beach was perfect on Saturday. Kind of makes me think we should go every weekend. I can totally be a beach bum.

So last week Chris and I attempted to eat gluten-free. Just an experiment – don’t worry, I can’t abandon bread, cakes, and cookies that easily. Chris is always feeling tired even when he gets 8 hours of sleep and is regularly dealing with stomach pains. We were curious if these symptoms might be related to a gluten intolerance so we decided to give a g-free diet a try.

Overall, I found eating gluten-free wasn’t that hard especially since we cooked almost every night. It was easy to control what we were eating. One notable obstacle was finding a variety of options when dining out. Gluten is found in more things than you realize! And the absolute hardest thing was trying to make gluten-free baked treats taste ‘normal.’

Not only was taste an issue, but I was overwhelmed by the ingredients needed to replace all-purpose flour. I didn’t want to buy multiple kinds of flours – i.e. brown rice, sorghum, oat, etc – so I opted for Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all purpose flour which is a blend of garbanzo flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, and fava flour.

The recipe for these cupcakes are slightly adapted from The Urban Baker which calls for millet flour and sweet rice flour. I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all purpose flour combined with Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour/Meal. And instead of Greek yogurt I used full fat sour cream (low fat sour cream may be thickened with gluten). Lastly, for good measure I added in some ground flaxseed meal.

The frosting is Wilton’s Buttercream Icing which holds up fabulously for decorating! I had about 2 cups of frosting (which is more than enough to decorate 12 cupcakes) and filled piping bags with different colors. The colors can be whatever you want. I used concentrated icing gels since they don’t water down the frosting. And then I used different tips to make the decorations.

I would say these cupcakes are somewhat successful. They look darn pretty though they taste like “sweet cornbread.” I’ve never had a gluten-free cupcake before. Is this what they’re supposed to taste like? I suppose the taste is also related to the kinds of flours used. I think it’s pretty cool that you can experiment with texture and flavor just by mixing different flours. Like adding coconut flour for a subtle sweetness, or say amaranth flour for a more earthy, hearty flavor.

Overall, the cupcakes are moist and tender and have a nice crumb. I plan to continue to experiment with gluten-free baking even though our week of gluten-free eating is over. The result? Given we have no medical training and the diet was not strictly adhered to (ahem, Chris had a beer by ‘accident’), we’re gonna go out on a limb here and say we’re fairly positive Chris is not gluten intolerant. (The search for an answer continues.)

These cupcakes might be a fun weekend baking project especially if you have an event to bring them to. I really enjoyed decorating the cupcakes but I did not like the cleaning up part. So much so, that I still have not cleaned up all the piping bags and bowls of frosting…


Triple Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella – for 4!


For Chris’ parents last night in SF I decided to make these Triple Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella as inspired by Christina, the blogger behind Dessert For Two. Have you ever wanted to have a freshly baked treat but not be tempted with say, a dozen cookies or cupcakes?

The idea behind Dessert For Two is just that! This recipe was great because it produced four perfect cupcakes.

Baking sweets in small batches is such an ingenious idea. Usually I am left with pushing leftover cake, pie, and cookies onto Chris’ coworkers. I am the dessert pusher – kind of like how Ms. Norbury is a pusher, she is a pusher. (Sorry, I have Mean Girls on my mind.) These cupcakes are easy to make in a cinch and uses ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry. I adapted the recipe slightly by using whole milk instead of buttermilk and yogurt instead of sour cream. For the frosting I made a simple chocolate frosting and topped the cupcakes with shaved chocolate (does that make this a quadruple chocolate cupcake then?).

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella
Adapted from Dessert for Two
Makes 4 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole milk

For the filling and frosting:

  • 2 tablespoons Nutella
  • 1 tablespoon yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • whole milk

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin tin with 4 paper liners.
*In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and espresso powder.
*In a medium bowl, whisk together vigorously the oil, vanilla, and brown sugar.
*Using a spatula, add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, alternating with the milk.
*Divide the batter between the muffing cups and bake 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
*Let cool complete on a wire rack before proceeding.
*Stir together the Nutella and yogurt, and set aside.
*Gently poke a hole in the top of each cupcake. (I used an apple corer to create the holes and saved the tops.)
*Place Nutella-yogurt mixture in a plastic ziplock bag, snip off the corner, and pipe in the mixture.
*Next, mix butter, cocoa powder, and 1/3 cup powdered sugar until well combined. Add in milk one teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. If you prefer a stiffer frosting, add more powdered sugar.
*Frost the cupcakes using a knife.
Optional: Add shaved pieces of chocolate for decoration. 


Chocolate Orange Ginger Cupcakes


How is it almost July?! Lately I feel like I’ve had my hands full with work and other personal stuff that I wish I had more time to do nothing. No time, there’s never any time! OK, I’m done with my Jessie Spano breakdown. Well even though this week has been crazy, I was really looking forward to baking some cupcakes for my coworker’s birthday.

I decided to branch out and try something new. I typically don’t like using oranges in baked goods (mostly because I have a hard time peeling oranges), but I thought these came out so well!
So you may have noticed if you looked at the ingredients that this cupcake is vegan. I almost didn’t want to point that out since I know vegan desserts are not highly coveted because of its taste and texture. This cake was super moist and full of spice from the fresh ginger and orange zest. I think my favorite part about this was that it was incredibly easy to pull together in no time which allowed me to catch up on The Bachelorette -er, I mean watch the nightly news and learn about world affairs.

I do agree that vegan desserts just don’t taste the same. I made two extra cupcakes for Chris and I and he didn’t know they were vegan until after I told him. I feel like I would not have known either unless someone told me these cupcakes were vegan but that after I knew, I would definitely notice why they are vegan. And I’m not saying that in a bad way! I hope this all makes sense. It’s just that you could tell it wasn’t laden with butter because butter has a distinct feel and taste.

Next time I would add in dark chocolate chips to heighten the chocolate flavor. But otherwise, I thought this was a fabulous cupcake! Now back to the Euro, Syria, healthcare, and other things I should be focusing on besides who Emily is eliminating in the rose ceremony…

I’m off to Boston this Thursday night for a friend’s wedding. I can’t wait! I hope to have some awesome things to post after this weekend. 

Chocolate Orange Ginger Cupcakes 
Recipe slightly adapted from Kohler Created via The Kitchn
Makes 12-14 cupcakes depending on tin size


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar


  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons orange juice

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or grease with baking spray and set aside.
*Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
*Add in remaining wet ingredients except for the cider vinegar. Mix until just combined.
*Add in the cider vinegar and quickly stir to combine. The mixture will bubble and lighten in color a bit.
*Once the mixture darkens you know the cider vinegar is fully incorporated. Fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way with batter and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
*Let cool in tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
*Mix powdered sugar and orange juice to create glaze, adding more orange juice if you prefer a thinner glaze. Brush over muffins and add some orange zest if desired.


Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Moist lookin’ cupcakes.

I have been baking for a few years now and I have not really experimented much with vegan baking. But I think that will change. This is my second foray into vegan baking and it’s fantastic. The taste is not compromised at all. I made these cupcakes for a coworker’s birthday who is vegan. It is not easy finding vegan desserts in San Francisco particularly in the Financial District where I work. Sadly, we do not have a Babycakes bakery. So I wanted to make something myself and I feel like I say this a lot, but this was really, really easy to make.

Vegan and delicious!

I used a mixture of peanut butter, powdered sugar and water for the frosting but these were good plain too. These cupcakes fooled many who did not know they were vegan! If you make these, I bet vegan baked goods will get less of a bad rep. Try it!

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from allrecipes
Makes 12 cupcakes


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup diced cooked apples (one medium apple sautéed in water and brown sugar until tender)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 cup water

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper or foil liners.
*In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk.
*Add in wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
*Using a big spoon, fill the muffin tins evenly with batter – about 3/4 full.
*Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, rotating the tin halfway through.


Note: I used almond flour to make it more nutritious and to add a slight nutty flavor. Though please feel free to stick to the original recipe and use 1 1/2 cup of AP flour instead. I also like to use sautéed diced apples in my recipes when it calls for oil or applesauce. I think it makes a huge difference. I cooked the diced apples on low-medium heat in about 4 tablespoons of water and 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar until the liquid dissolves and the apples are tender and a bit on the mushy side, about 5-6 minutes. Feel free to modify this as well.