Nutella Marbled Cupcakes (Gluten Free)

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3 nutella cupcake on board

Before going gluten free a few years ago, I used to bake this amazing marble cake using a Martha Stewart recipe.  It was such a huge hit that one year I made a whole bunch of them and gave them to my aunt’s and grannies and mom for Mother’s Day.  The marbling of the chocolate and vanilla cake batters were so pretty and the perfectly sweet snack for afternoon tea.  I thought I’d try doing a GF cupcake version and use a crunchy hazelnut spread for the marbling.  They are so decadent that frosting is completely optional.

GF cupcake batter in bowl with blender

Now that I’m GF, baking is a new experience which requires patience and an open mind to bake with GF flours instead instead of regular flours.  There are so many: amaranth, arrowroot, potato starch, xanthum gum, sweet rice, brown rice, and sorghum to name a few.  Stocking up a pantry with the ingredients to make a GF cake requires ample cupboard space and a commitment to baking several GF goodies from scratch. 

white cupcake batter in pan

Determined to bake great GF cupcakes, I bought Erin McKenna’s BabyCakesNYC cookbook.  She’s the ultimate gluten-free goddess – gorgeous and witty and glam to boot.  Plus her recipes all turned out great.  Her enthusiastic writing and clear directions made the daunting task of measuring out no less than a dozen or so ingredients more enjoyable.  After a successful attempt at the chocolate cupcakes, I tried making her carrot cupcakes and lemon poppyseed tea cakes too which turned out great (the lemon poppyseed was a little to lemon-y and sweet for me though).  So I’ve had some success in baking GF from scratch but the sheer variety of ingredients still leaves me feeling a little overwhelmed.  And it left me with a pantry full of flours that went stale after my baking spree.

adding teaspoon of nutella to batter

swirling nutella with toothpick close up

 So to satisfy my need to bake occasionally, my dislike for waste (ie. GF flours), and to overcome my GF baking apprehension, I have been using GF baking mixes.  Now some might argue that it’s ‘cheating’ or ‘fake baking’ but to those naysayers I say hey, the results are beautiful baked goodies perfect for sharing.  And to make them more ‘outside the box’ (get it? outside the box? sorry, I couldn’t resist) I try and put my own spin on the recipes, like adding Nutella.  I’m obsessed with all things chocolately and hazelnutty and decided to jazz up Cherrybrook Kitchens Gluten Free Dreams cake mix using Martha’s marbling technique.  They were the perfect dessert to bring to our Scottsdale farewell bash hosted by our dear friend C (PS – have relocated to Toronto now, thus the temporary hiatus in posting).  To make this nut-free, replace the hazelnut spread with a dark chocolate spread.

nutella batter ready to bake close up

So you may have noticed that I didn’t post any pictures of the cupcakes frosted and that is because I tried making frosting using Trader Joes frosting mix and replaced the butter with coconut oil which was a huge flop.  It turned out lumpy and unappetizing and I had to make a mad dash to the store to get some Duncan Hine’s frosting in a can.  I was running late for the party and had to frost these bad boys at lightning speed.  They were rough homemade looking at best and I didn’t have time to take pictures.  But they were yummy nonetheless and people seemed to enjoy them even if they weren’t perfectly frosted.  I’ve had much better luck with Pamela’s Dark Chocolate Frosting which I will use faithfully from now on.  Plus with the moving I haven’t had a chance for a do-over and hope these photos will suffice.

Cherrybrook Kitchen GF Dream Cake Mix box

Recipe (makes 12 cupcakes)

Gluten Free Nutella Marbled Cupcakes

  • 1 box GF Yellow Cake Mix (Cherrybrook Kitchen’s Gluten Free Dreams is available at WholeFoods)
  • 1/2 cup or about 12 tsp chocolate hazelnut spread (I used a crunchy version)
  • 1 container chocolate frosting mix (Pamela’s Dark Chocolate Frosting Mix is awesome)
  • Frangellico hazelnut liqueur or hazelnut coffee
  • 12 whole hazelnuts for garnish (optional)

Prepare the cake mix according to package directions.  Place about 1/3 cup of batter into lined cupcake pan. Microwave hazelnut spread for about 30 seconds or until softened slightly.  Add 1 teaspoon of hazelnut spread to the center of the batter.  Using a toothpick, swirl the hazelnut spread to creat a marble pattern.  Repeat until all 12 cupcakes are prepared and bake according to package directions.  Place on baking rack to cool before frosting.

Meanwhile, prepare chocolate frosting.  Replace water with either Frangellico or hazelnut coffee. Frost each cupcake using an offset spatula.  Garnish with a hazelnut in the middle and serve.

nutella cupcakes cooling on rack close up

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