Who needs a cup of hot chocolate when you can chow down on a batch of Gluten Free Hot Cocoa Cupcakes?! Light and fluffy chocolate cupcakes topped with smooth milk chocolate frosting and topped with toasted mini marshmallows. I’m gonna be looking for these on our next Polar Express!
ME BEFORE THE RECIPE…
I remember a few years back taking our girls to the Polar Express train ride up by the Grand Canyon. Of course I was too cheap to pay for the entire overnight experience, so we just went on the evening train ride and booked a hotel somewhat close.
What did I think about the whole “North Pole” experience??? Well…
- It was freezing! At least by my standards. I was shivering in my 74 degree house yesterday. Brrrr!!!
- The Polar Express story they read over the speakers was inaudible. I couldn’t hear a dang word of the wondrous tale.
- The cookies were terrible!!! I mean for the amount of money you pay, at least serve a decent cookie. (Insert eye roll and tear emoji cuz that’s how I felt.)
- It was late, oh so late. Do you know how never ending a day feels when you’ve traveled, your kids are up WAY past their bedtime, and then you have to drag them to check into a hotel because, again, you were too cheap to book the close one?
- Uh, where were the whimsical dancing servers with hot chocolate???! C’mon. I wanted a full on show in the aisle of that train. What kind of operation are you running here, just sending regular old servers down the line with a cup of watered down hot cocoa? I wanted rich, melty, velvety, chocolaty liquid magic that would bring all my Christmas dreams to life in one sip. Guess that kind of hot chocolate would cost a little more than the standard North Pole adventure.
So with all that being said, would I do it again? HECK YES!!! Here’s the thing, as adults we may be overly skeptical and less easily impressed. But all those feelings are irrelevant when you see the joy on your children’s face because to them, the night was full of magic.
Braelyn (Emry was just a baby) LOVED every minute of that train ride. She loved wearing her pajamas, anticipating the arrival of Santa, sipping her hot chocolate water, and passing through the “North Pole”. Heck, she was so ecstatic to be on that train, she didn’t even care that she couldn’t eat her burnt to a crisp non-gluten free cookie that the servers passed out as if they were precious gems.
I’ll tell you one thing: kids sure are easy to please. They unknowingly set their expectations real low, which is exactly why they think I’m such an amazing mother. I’m riding this cool mom train for as long as I can before my kids realize that in reality I’m getting away with the bare minimum around here.
Actually, Emry may already be catching on to this fact. We stalled completing her kindergarten gingerbread project until the night before it was due. Long story short, we used the limited crafting materials I had laying around and disguised her gingerbread girl as a “candy unicorn”. It was covered in glued on reject Halloween candy, had a horn made out of puff balls, and rocked a mane and tail made out of pipe cleaners which really looked more like fuzzy sticks shooting out of the gingerbread’s butt. It was hideous.
But as any good mom, I smiled and told her how fabulous it looked. And she agreed. She was so excited to take it this morning.
Well, fast forward to coming home from school. She looks up at me, straight faced and serious and states, “Mom, mine didn’t really look like a unicorn. It just looked crazy. All the other kids’ were better. Yeah, mine wasn’t great.”
BAHAHAHAHA! I about died. I wanted to laugh and cry all at the same time. I told her next time we would try a little harder.
HERE COMES THE RECIPE…
I’m pretty sure that I would have felt like a complete and udder mom failure if I hadn’t of just made a batch of these Gluten Free Hot Cocoa Cupcakes to deliver for Christmas goodies tonight. I mean, you can’t feel like too much of a loser when you have something as beautiful as these sitting on the counter top just waiting to share some holiday cheer.
I may not be able to complete a basic kindergarten project, but I sure as heck can bake some insanely fabulous cupcakes! So there.
I can honestly say these are the BEST chocolate cupcakes I’ve made to date. The cake was so light and fluffy, yet completely filled with rich dark chocolate flavor. Plus, the cupcakes actually rose like real gluten filled cupcakes!!! They had the most beautiful dome on top. Of course, like all gluten free baked goods, they settled slightly once they were out of the oven, but they maintained a small dome on top which had me elated. It’s the small things in life that make my day.
Besides the cake being the best chocolate cake ever, the frosting on top is just as stellar…and soooo easy. Who knew you could end up with such a decadent, smooth chocolate frosting from just a half cup of cocoa and the other normal frosting ingredients??? I guess it’s all about the ratios. But this frosting is legit and lickable and couldn’t be simpler…well besides buying a can of premade frosting, but that’s just a downright no no around here.
Now of course I’m sitting here raving about the cake and frosting because that’s where all the work is, but what do you think my kids like the most about these cupcakes? Yeah, the store bought mini marshmallows that I toasted with a kitchen torch. Again, it’s the little things in life.
You could definitely leave the marshmallows untoasted, but I loved having a little golden crust on the mallows along with that campfire flavor. Yum! I have to admit, a couple of the marshmallow caught on fire and I had to blow them out a few times, and my hair nearly caught on fire more times than I’d like to count. But other than that, the toasting was easy peasy. Hehe.
And if you’re still wondering if these cupcakes are as good as I claim, Ben just got a text from a family we delivered cupcakes to telling him that his family wants to be friends with us forever because of our goodies. Haha! I’ll take it.
So if there is only one thing you do magical this holiday season, make it these Gluten Free Hot Cocoa Cupcakes. It’s hard not to feel warm, cozy, and merry inside when you’ve got a cupcake in hand. Near impossible.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY…
- Gluten Free Lower Fat Chocolaty Chocolate Cupcakes
- Gluten Free Butterfinger Cupcakes
- Gluten Free Eggnog Christmas Cupcakes
- Gluten Free Better Than Box Mix Brownies
- Gluten Free Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake
- For the cupcakes:
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1½ teaspoons instant coffee granules (optional)
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups high quality all purpose gluten free flour (or my preferred blend of ½ cup white rice flour, ½ cup brown rice flour, ½ cup sorghum flour, ⅓ cup tapioca starch, and ¼ cup potato starch)
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted (measure 1 cup, then melt)
- For the frosting:
- 1½ sticks butter, room temperature (12 tablespoons)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ⅓ cup milk
- For assembly:
- 1½ cups mini marshmallows
- To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and coffee granules until smooth.
- In a smaller mixing bowl, sift together cocoa powder, all purpose flour (or my preferred blend), xanthan gum (if your blend doesn't already contain it), salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Add dry ingredients to egg mixture. Add milk and whisk to combine. Mix until smooth. Add boiling water very slowly, whisking constantly, to avoid cooking eggs. Stir until smooth.
- Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl (preferably glass), and heat on high for 1 minute. Stir until completely melted. Spoon melted chocolate into batter mixture and mix until fully incorporated. Mixture will be quite runny. Allow mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Stir again.
- Divide batter evenly between pans (should make 24 cupcakes), filling ¾ way full.
- Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back at touch of a finger or toothpick inserted into center comes out clean with very few moist crumbs.
- Set pans on cooling rack for about 3 minutes, then carefully transfer cupcakes out of tins onto cooling rack. Allow cupcakes to completely cool before frosting.
- While cupcakes are cooling, make frosting. In a large mixing bowl, whip butter until smooth. Add salt, vanilla, 2 cups of powdered sugar, and cocoa powder. Beat until incorporated. Add milk and mix on low until smooth. Add remaining 2 cups powdered sugar and mix on low until incorporated, scraping down sides as needed. Increase speed to high and beat an additional 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Add more sugar for thicker consistency or more milk for thinner.
- Once cupcakes are cooled, top with frosting and mini marshmallows. Use a kitchen torch to brown tops of marshmallows, being careful to not melt frosting too much. Immediately place in fridge for about 10 mins to solidify any melted frosting.
- Serve cupcakes at room temperature. Store leftover cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, in fridge for up to 1 week, or in freezer for up to 3 months.