Ghoulishly Gluten-Free Halloween Cupcake Recipe

Jenny bounded down the walkway in a flurry of ribbons and pink satin. Her mother, a short, cheerful looking woman in her thirties, scurried after the little girl, stopping occasionally to pick up a dropped wand or a tuft of fake hair.

"Jenny, wait for me!" she shouted. "Your costume is falling apart!"

By the time her mom got to the party, Jenny was lost in a sea of six-year-olds. The large family room was packed tightly with pint-sized cats and dogs, ghosts and ghouls, princesses and punk rockers. Jenny's mother scanned the fifty or so little heads, looking for a familiar blonde-haired, blue-eyed tooth-fairy wearing a lavender pointed hat. Four identical hats flitted through the crowd, but only one had a missing veil from an unauthorized scissor incident the night before.

"Thank God, I found you before the food came out," Jenny's mom panted as she took her daughter's hand and steered her towards a row of folding chairs along the wall. Jenny sat in her seat, bouncing and vibrating like she was going to explode from the sheer excitement that surrounded her. Her mother gazed around the room.

"Nice to see she's feeling better!" remarked an older lady as she came over and handed Jenny a tiny box of grape juice. "That new diet's really working, isn't it? I haven't seen her this excited since last year."

"Yes! She's doing so well. We're all doing much better, actually, so that's good. It's amazing how something so innocent can make you so sick."

The older lady nodded in agreement. "What do you want to do about those?" She pointed behind her hand to three pink boxes sitting on a card table in the corner. The boxes, tied up with white cotton string, were covered with multi-colored smudges.

Jenny's mom sighed. "I'm not sure. This is the first time we've had to deal with this situation since the diagnosis. I don't really know what to do. I couldn't not bring her. She would have been crushed to miss her friends."

Realizing that she was the topic of conversation, Jenny looked up at the two women quizzically. "Mommy?" she asked. "What mommy?"

"Nothing!" Her mom chirped, quickly recovering from the conversation. "Why don't you go grab some chips?"

"Nuh-uh … I'm waiting for the cupcakes!" Jenny smiled her gigawatt smile and pointed across the room at the boxes on the table.

The two women exchanged glances. The older lady smiled awkwardly at Jenny's mom, and with a short wave, excused herself to tend to the other children.

A few minutes later, a tall woman in a witch costume began clapping her hands to quiet the waves of activity that flowed back and forth the room. Her hooked nose almost looked like it should have come in the package with her black cape and hat. "Ok everyone," she called out. "Kids, quiet down. It's time to form a line so that we can eat. Let's all try to be nice, ok? No pushing! Hey, I said NO PUSHING!"

Knowing exactly what was coming next, fifty little bodies filed clumsily into a crooked, giggling line. The tall witch pulled the strings from first box and opened the lid. The unmistakable scent of sugar wafted through the air, churning the kids into waves of deafening chatter.

Jenny, now physically held to her seat by her mother, was besides herself. "What about me, mommy? But what about me?" She shrieked over and over again. "But I want one! But I want a chocolate one! They're going to be ALL GONE!"

"Jenny, we talked about this. You can't have one of those cupcakes, remember? You can't eat those things anymore. Remember we brought you some special cookies? Here take one of these."

But Jenny wasn't having any of it. She swatted her mother's hand away and the cookie hit the ground. She was now flinging her body towards the cupcakes with every bit of strength that a six-year-old could muster, determined to break free of the grip that held her. Her mother, frustrated but resolute, picked up the cookie, her purse and Jenny in one swoop of her arm and headed for the door.

"I'm sorry, honey. You can't have one."

Tragic wails could be heard across the yard and into adjacent houses. Concerned neighbors glanced out their windows to search for the source of such a forlorn sound, for surely something must be terribly wrong. All they could see, though, was a short, sad-looking woman carrying a sobbing tooth fairy back to the car.

These cupcakes are for Jenny.

Ghoulishly Gluten-Free Halloween Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

These cupcakes are mottled with orange and black, making for an awesome display once you bite them open - plus they're super simple to make, and they'll impress everyone who lays eyes on them. I recommend picking up some Halloween sugar decorations from your local baking shop to make them extra cute!

You can find black food coloring at professional cake shops, or else try large-scale culinary chains such as Sur la Table or Williams Sonoma. If all else fails, you can buy it mail order from places such as AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste Food Color Kit, which I picked up at a cake decorating store a while back. I love this stuff! I have so many colors to work with, and it's unbelievable fun.

  • 1-1/4 cup gluten free flour mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 drop orange food coloring (or more to get the color you want)
  • 8 drop black food coloring (or more to get the color you want)
  • Buttercream frosting (recipe below)

1. Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.
2. Place cupcake liners in a pan large enough to hold 12 cupcakes.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together gluten free flour mix, salt, baking powder and xanthan gum. Mix well.
4. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed. Mix for about one minute.
5. To sugar and egg mixture, use a spoon to gently stir in oil, milk, and vanilla.
6. Add the dry flour ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat with an electric mixer for one minute at medium speed.
7. Divide batter into two equal portions, pouring them into two separate bowls. Into one half of the batter, mix the orange food coloring and beat well. Into the second half mix the black food coloring and beat well.
8. Using large spoons - such as tablespoons or soup spoons - start layering the colored batters into the cupcake cups until they are 2/3 full. Take a butter knife and gently swirl the colors together a tiny bit. Don't mix them too much, or you will just end up with gray cupcakes! The key is to just create a few swirls within the batter so that they look interesting when you bite into them.
9. Place pan in oven on center rack. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
10. Cool on a rack for five minute before removing cupcakes from pan. Allow cupcakes to cool completely on rack before frosting.
11. Pipe on buttercream frosting. Decorate with Halloween decorations of your choice.

Buttercream Frosting

Makes about 3 cups of frosting

  • 3-1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 drops orange food coloring
  • 8 drops black food coloring (optional)
  • Milk to adjust consistency

1. With an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter. Mix on low until well blended, and then on medium for another two minutes.
2. Add vanilla, beating on medium for 30 seconds.
3. If you want a thinner frosting, beat in milk one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. If you want thicker frosting, mix in more powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time until it's as thick as you like.
4. If you all orange frosting, beat in orange food coloring until well mixed. If you want two-toned frosting like in the photos below, divide the frosting into two portions and beat orange coloring into one half and black food coloring into the other half.
5. Place a piping tip into your pastry bag and lay the bag on its side. Spread orange frosting along one half of the bag, making sure to not fill up more than half of the bag.
6. Now slide your black frosting into the bag, on top of the orange, so that they are one on top of the other. It should look like this (please forgive the terrible illustration - I'm a cook, not a graphic designer!):

Now twist your piping bag like you would normally do, and pipe a swirl onto your cupcakes. Here's a piping tutorial just in case!

Pink Champagne Cupcakes

  • Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Cupcakes
  • Other gluten free Halloween resources you might enjoy:

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