These cute little ghoulish cupcakes are the perfect treat for the spooky season. Made with natural black cocoa or Dutch pressed cocoa powder for a darker chocolate sponge that has the fluffiest crumb, they’re then loaded with a tart red currant jam which is then topped off with a fresh dollop of pillowy clouds of creamy white buttercream – just sublime! Take a look a the best recipe for Halloween below!
As with all of my recipes, these cupcakes are no different in that they’re made using standard pantry staples, come together easily and are simple to bake and decorate. If you’re using a gluten-free self-raising flour blend such as that from Doves Farm (not an ad), baking this will truly be a piece of cake (mind the pun!). I love a good sized cupcake and it pains me when people associate gluten-free baking with a dry, crumbly and flat piece of sad-looking cake. As you can see, with all of my cakes, I like a decent slice and that’s what you get with my recipes. Have a look at my simple coeliac-friendly recipe below and give it a go!
What ingredients do you need?
Margarine and Butter– I prefer to use margarine for fluffier cupcakes but butter can be used too as long as it is softened to room temperature beforehand. Use butter for the buttercream, margarine won’t provide the same taste or consistency
Sugar – A standard cater sugar will work wonders in this recipe
Eggs – Large free-range eggs are best, just be sure to use them at room temperature. Eggs add structure to the cake and act as a leavening agent to help the cake rise.
Gluten-free flour – A gluten-free self-raising flour blend, or all-purpose flour, such as Doves Farm Self-raising Flour will work wonders in this recipe. If it already contains Xanthan Gum you may omit the extra Xanthan Gum from the recipe. Always go for a flour blend rather than one type of grain as this will guarantee a much better result.
Xanthan gum – Xanthan gum is essential for most gluten-free recipes and there are no exceptions here. Doves Farm is my preferred choice but you can use any. If your flour already contains Xanthan Gum, you can choose to leave out the extra 1/4 teaspoon. Xanthan Gum adds that missing elasticity which binds wheat-based cakes together.
Baking powder – Any will do, just check that it is definitely gluten-free as not all baking powders are. Baking powder acts as a leavening agent which helps the cake to rise in the baking process. Be careful not to add too much and stick to the quantity stated in the recipe, as this could actually have a counter effect on the rise.
Black cocoa powder – A natural black cocoa powder is a great shout for this recipe, making the chocolate cupcakes nice and dark. A Dutch pressed cocoa powder will work fine too, the cupcakes will simply be slightly lighter in colour. I would avoid using liquid food colourings as they tend to not be strong enough to have a big impact on the colour and end up ruining the texture of the cupcakes
Icing sugar – Sifted to avoid having any lumps in the buttercream
Cream cheese – A good dollop or two of cream cheese in this recipe will add a creamy flavour to the buttercream
Sugar eyes – Make sure they are gluten free before adding them to the cupcakes, chocolate chips can be used too
What equipment do you need?
- 12-hole muffin baking tray
- Cupcake or muffin cases (I prefer slightly larger cases for a good-sized cupcake!)
- Stand-mixer or handheld electric whisk (essential for whipping up the buttercream into pillowy clouds)
- Round piping nozzle
- Disposable piping bags
Tips & Tricks
Room temperature ingredients are essential for this recipe to work. Room temperature ingredients ensure that they can all be mixed together thoroughly. If you forget to take your eggs out of the fridge beforehand, place them in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot, you don’t want to cook them!) water 15 minutes prior to baking to bring them to room temperature more quickly.
The toothpick test is a great way to check whether your cupcakes are done. As all ovens are calibrated differently, the baking times stated are always suggested as a rough guide. To check if the cupcakes are done, insert a toothpick into the centre and if it comes out with no crumbs stuck to it, you can assume that the cupcake is baked through and ready to come out.
I use grams for weighing almost all of the ingredients in my recipes as it is what I am most used to when cooking and baking on a daily basis. I use measuring cups for simple ingredients such as spices or smaller amounts as it can be much easier to measure. I would recommend sticking to what the recipe suggests as there is no guarantee that converting into cup measurements or vice-versa will have the same outcome.
For this recipe a white buttercream topping looks best. The simplest way to get the whitest buttercream is to make sure that the butter is whipped up for a good 10 minutes or longer on the highest setting before adding the icing sugar in batches and whipping up again. To remove the yellow butter tinge, add 1-2 drops of purple food colouring to the buttercream and whisk again. It sounds strange but it works to counteract the yellow – just be careful to only add a minute amount of purple!
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For the cupcakes
- 230 g margarine room temp.
- 230 g caster sugar
- 4 large free range eggs room temp.
- 190 g gluten-free self-raising flour blend
- 40 g natural black cocoa powder or Dutch pressed cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp Xanthan Gum
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
For the filling
- 6-8 tbsp red currant jam* strawberry or raspberry jam work well too
For the buttercream
- 250 g unsalted butter room temp.
- 375 g icing sugar sifted
- 2 tbsp full-fat cream cheese heaped
- 2-3 drops purple food colouring*
- 1 package sugar eyes
For the cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 180℃ Fan and line a muffin tray with large cupcake or muffin cases.
- Combine the margarine and sugar in a stand-mixer and mix until fully incorporated.230 g margarine, 230 g caster sugar
- Whisk in the eggs one at a time until completely mixed in.4 large free range eggs
- Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and Xanthan Gum. Fold in gently until no pockets of flour remain.190 g gluten-free self-raising flour blend, 40 g natural black cocoa powder or Dutch pressed cocoa powder, ¼ tsp Xanthan Gum, ¼ tsp salt, 1 tsp baking powder
- Use an ice cream scoop to divide the mixture evenly between the cupcake cases. Bake on the middle shelf for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool completely before adding the filling.
- For the filling, create a small hole in the centre of each cupcake (a piping nozzle can be useful here) and insert a small teaspoon of jam into each one, before popping the top back on.6-8 tbsp red currant jam*
For the buttercream
- Whisk the butter for around 10 minutes on the highest setting until lighter in colour and fluffy in texture. Remember to keep scraping down the sides of the bowl.250 g unsalted butter
- Add the cream cheese and icing sugar in batches, and continue to whisk on a high setting.375 g icing sugar, 2 tbsp full-fat cream cheese
- Add the purple food colouring as necessary and continue to whisk until completely incorporated.2-3 drops purple food colouring*
- Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a plain round nozzle and decorate each cupcake with a swirl. Add the sugar eyes to finish.1 package sugar eyes