Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Zest Buttercream Frosting

Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Brunch Foods, Cakes | 2 comments

… Harmonious Flavors in Cheery Cupcake Papers!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Zest Buttercream Frosting 2

I usually don’t splurge on this kind of thing, but when I saw these cheery cupcake papers at the local market recently (on an otherwise very gray day), I simply couldn’t pass them by. Initially not having a plan for their use, other than cupcakes of course, I set them aside. Then spring showed its head one day, and my craving for fresh lemon dawned. And thus, this cupcake recipe was born.

These gluten-free, dairy-free Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Zest Buttercream Frosting are so delicious no one will ever know they’re made without regular flour or any milk, butter, or dairy ingredients. The bright and tart lemon counterbalances the rich chocolate cake and brings every bite into harmony. Baking deliciously without gluten and dairy has never been easier. A celiac-safe dessert right in your kitchen. (You might want to mark them as gf/df so others will steer clear (never assuming they’re SO delicious) – leaving them all to you. :D)

Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Zest Buttercream Frosting

Be sure to follow the recipe and note the points about the temperature of the ingredients. Using room temperature ingredients instead of COLD ingredients can make an impact in the density and tenderness of your cupcakes and how much your cake batter rises during baking. Surprisingly, you DO want COLD ingredients where noted. (I know this is opposite of what most cake recipes require.) While the results will still be delicious if you bypass this point, you might end up with a more pound-cake style cupcake … tasty in its own right … but not intended for this particular cupcake recipe. (Or maybe it is in your mind.)

Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Zest Buttercream Frosting 6

 May chocolate and lemon make you smile!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Zest Buttercream Frosting


No Tree Nuts Bug No Peanut Bug No Soy No Dairy Bug No Gluten BugPrep time: 10 minutes

Baking time: about 18-20 minutes

Oven temp: 350ºF

Rest time: about 5 minutes or longer

Makes 1 dozen very nice, tall cupcakes



1 3/4 cups (210g) gluten-free all-purpose flour – I use Bette’s Gourmet Four Flour Blend1

3/4 teaspoon guar gum

8 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder – I use Hershey’s

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

8 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted and at room temp – I use Tree of Life organic refined coconut oil (no coconut flavor)

2 Tablespoons casein-free margarine, melted and at room temp – I use Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread – soy free2

2 large eggs, COLD right out of the fridge

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup canned coconut milk, COLD (stored in the fridge until ready to use), well stirred – I use Thai Kitchen, not low fat


Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:

3 cups powdered sugar

8 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

zest of 4 lemons

4 Tablespoons margarine – I use Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread – soy free



Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line cupcake pan with 12 cupcake papers.

Whisk together by hand the flour, guar gum, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tater, salt, nutmeg and sugars in a medium-size mixing bowl. Break up any lumps with your fingers.

Stir coconut oil, margarine, eggs, vanilla, and coconut milk into flour mixture, mixing by hand until well combined. Batter should be smooth.

Scoop batter into cupcake papers, filling each cup about 3/4 full. (Using a #20 scoop or ice cream scoop makes this easy.)

Bake for 18-20 minutes (depending on your oven) at 350ºF. Cupcakes are done when the center springs back when lightly touched on the top, and/or when a toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out with just a few crumbs.

Transfer pan to cooling rack and let rest 5 minutes. Gently lift cupcakes, holding the paper edges, out of the pans and continue resting on cooling rack until room temperature.

Mix all frosting ingredients together while cupcakes are cooling. Mixture should be slightly thick but still spreadable without tearing the tops of the cupcakes. If frosting is too thick, add more lemon juice, (water or non-dairy milk can also be used at this point), one teaspoon at a time to desired thickness. If frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar, one Tablespoon at a time, to desired thickness.

Frost cupcakes. If you wish to decorate the cupcakes (I’m no pro, but it’s so much fun), place a frosting in a piping bag fitted with desired tip, or simply snip off one corner of a plastic freezer bag, fit with desired tip, then fill bag with frosting. Compress to remove excess air, then squeeze until the frosting fills the tip. Decorate as desired. Frosting may be slightly soft, but it will firm up nicely without becoming hard or pasty.

Serve and Enjoy!

Store cupcakes in an airtight container, if desired. The frosting and cupcake papers help seal in the moisture, but I like to store the cupcakes back in the pan (papers still on) when completely cooled. Lightly wrapping with plastic wrap will keep out any extra air. Works perfectly (unless you live in VERY dry climate)! It’s a very easy way to transport them too, if you’re bringing them to a party or outing. LOVE that!   


1Bette’s Gourmet Four Flour Blend Product Review

2Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread Product Review 


Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™

Other recipes you may enjoy …

Cherry Pie Pockets,
Memere's Award-Winning Date Bars,
Polka Dot Raspberry Cake with Whipped Cream





  1. Superb!

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