Hostess-Style Chocolate Cupcakes

gluten free chocolate cupcakes

Whew! I just finished my first year teaching at a wonderful school. There is one thing I’ve heard talking to teachers: it doesn’t matter if are teaching second grade or twelfth grade, public or private school – the first year is a doozie. And it was, but I’m hoping that I’ll have more time to share recipes with you on the blog going forward.

 

These cupcakes are a nostalgic treat that everyone will love. They do take some time to assemble but they are worth it. The prep is reduced by using another cake box hack, and if marshmallow fluff is available and meets your dietary requirements, you can use it instead of making your own filling. If you have some of the chocolate icing in your freezer, the assembly gets even faster.

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Fudgies… or No-Bake Cookies – A geographic and cultural debate!

gluten free fudgies

The proper name for these cookies is a matter of some debate in my household. My husband – and most of the country, as far as I can tell – calls these cookies “no-bake cookies.” In my family, these cookies go by one name and one name only – “fudgies”. My grandmother was a bona fide cookie lady for many years, making cookies at a high school cafeteria in Massachusetts. She called these fudgies, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not arguing with a cookie lady!

 

Another reason why these cookies should be called “fudgies” – you cook the base as you would cook a fudge candy. This is the reason why some people have difficulty with the cookies coming out dry and crumbly, or so soft that they never firm up. Most recipes specify a cooking time, which can vary from one to five minutes, and your results can vary wildly based on the size of the pot you use, or if you scale the recipe up or down. If you want to avoid dry or mushy fudgies, it’s time to haul out the candy thermometer. Fudge is cooked to 240ºF (soft ball stage), but I prefer to slightly undercook the sugar mixture to 220ºF. This results in a slightly creamier, glossier cookie.

 

Using a candy thermometer sounds like a pain, but you may only need to use it a few times, and you can record how long you needed to boil the sugar mixture. Just keep in mind that if you double or half the recipe, or use a different sized pot, your timing will probably change. A candy thermometer is the only way to guarantee consistent results every time.

 

Ingredient note: This recipe contains gluten free oats. Some people on gluten free diets cannot tolerate oats, even if they are certified gluten free. If you are sharing these cookies, please let any GF dieters know that they contain oats!

 

Yield: 30 cookies using #40 portion scoop

Ingredients:

  •  2 c. white sugar ( 400 g)
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder (20 g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick or 114 g)
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter (140 g)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  •  3 c. old fashioned gluten free oats (285 g)

Other Equipment:

  • parchment paper or waxed paper
  • cookie scoop
  • candy thermometer
  • 6 Qt pot
  • rubber spatula

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Brownies

I’ve owned two of Marcel Desaulniers’s cookbooks, Death by Chocolate and Desserts to Die For, for ages- they date back to my pre-diagnosis days. I gave them a fresh look a few years ago, and discovered that lots of his recipes are free of flour as written! Who needs flour with that much eggs, chocolate and butter?

 

His brownie recipe did contain a small amount of flour, so I modified it to be gluten free… and added some more chocolate. You’ll notice that the recipe below has some options. This is because, if you use corn starch and omit the xanthan gum, you have a recipe that requires only ingredients that are readily available at any grocery store. Just be aware that it is best to buy fresh containers of baking powder, corn starch, and cocoa, instead of using opened containers that have been in a gluten-containing kitchen. Starting fresh will avoid any possible contamination with the wheat flour bin.

 

So… the really important question for all brownie recipes: Fudgy or cake-like? Well, if you include the xanthan gum and use tapioca flour, the brownies are most definitely fudgy. If you omit the xanthan gum, then the texture can best be described as smooth and truffle-like. These brownies taste great with regular Baker’s chocolate, but if you really want to indulge, Scharffen Berger’s 3 oz. semisweet and bittersweet bars say “gluten free” right on the wrapper.

 

Yield: 8” x 8” pan of brownies, 12 servings

 

Ingredients:

  •  4 Tablespoons butter (half-stick or 57g)
  • 3 oz. semisweet chocolate (85 g)
  • 3 oz. bittersweet or unsweeted chocolate (85 g)

 

  • 1/4 c. tapioca flour (32 g) or corn starch (35 g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (10 g)

 

  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar (200 g)
  • 1 teaspoon GF vanilla
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • nonstick cooking spray (optional)

 

Other Equipment:

  • 8” x 8” x 2” baking pan
  • parchment paper
  • double boiler (see instructions for description)
  • mesh sieve
  • electric mixer fitted with whisk or balloon whip attachment

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Chocolate Icing

This chocolate icing recipe is based on the Pioneer Woman’s  sticky chocolate icing. I scaled it up a bit since the original recipe left small amounts of sweetened condensed milk languishing in my fridge.

This batch makes enough icing to frost two batches of yellow cupcakes (recipe here). This stuff freezes well, so after frosting your cupcakes, scoop the rest of the icing into a resealable container, let it cool, and then freeze. When you make your next batch of cupcakes, just microwave the frozen icing and stir it every minute. As it softens, shorten the time between stirs to 30 seconds.

 

Sometimes the icing doesn’t always last until the next batch of cupcakes…

 

Yield: ~ 2 c. icing (enough for two batches of 18-21 cupcakes)

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 14 oz. (396 g) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 8 oz. (226 g) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 Tablespoons butter

Other Equipment:

  • medium sized saucepan
  • spatula
  • small spoon

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Chocolate Walnut Cookies

This is François Payard’s recipe for a flour-less, butter-less cookie that has a delicious fudgy interior and a beautiful shiny exterior.

The dough is not going to look like typical cookie dough. In fact, the first time my mother made this recipe, she thought the batter was such a sad prospect for cookies that she dumped it in a pan and baked it like brownies instead… and those tasted great, too!

Ingredient note: If you are making these gluten free, make sure to check the brand of walnuts that you buy. I have noticed a few brands, and specifically Diamond brand, have a warning on the back that their product is made in a factory with wheat products.

 

Yield: 24 cookies using #40 portion scoop

 Ingredients:

  •  2-3/4 c. walnuts (halves and pieces)
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • ¾ c. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • optional: 1/4 to 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Other Equipment:

  • parchment paper
  • portion scoop (optional)

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