Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting (nut-free)

June 27, 2012 in Categories: , by

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This cupcake is light, spongy, not-too-sweet, and richly chocolaty.  You could serve these at a birthday party and no one would suspect that they were eating something so healthy!  The chocolate ganache frosting is sturdy enough to pipe, just slightly sweeter than the cake itself, and makes this an irresistible treat (well, maybe if you have iron willpower, but I couldn’t resist eating one!). This recipe makes 12 generously-frosted cupcakes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (if you are going to have these around for more than two days, it might be better to keep them in the fridge).

The inspiration for these cupcakes came from one I let my daughters eat for a special treat from a local gluten-free bakery.  My original goal was to recreate the rich, fudgey, extra moist cupcake filled with chocolate ganache that my girls so enjoyed.  I failed to recreate that cupcake with this recipe (don’t worry, I’ll keep working on it!) but I think this recipe is even better!  This is a very versatile cupcake, perfect for birthday parties, barbecues or potlucks.  I suspect that this recipe will even work as a layer cake, which I intend to try for my husband’s upcoming birthday.  I haven’t tried this, but I think that if you divide the batter among three 9” pans that are prepared by greasing, then lining with wax paper, then greasing and flouring (with arrowroot powder or sifted coconut flour) and bake for about 25-30 minutes.  When I do try it, I will update this recipe to let you know how it works (and if anyone tries in the meantime, please leave a comment!).

I use semi-sweet chocolate in this recipe as the sole source of sweetness.  I did this in part because it is fairly easy to find good quality, soy-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, nut-free organic semi-sweet chocolate sweetened with evaporated cane juice (a.k.a. sucanat), and also in part because the using solid chocolate is the key to this cupcakes great texture.  You could also use chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand) or your favorite chocolate bar (I like Equal Exchange).  If you don’t need such clean chocolate, by all means use regular Baking Chocolate.  8oz of baking chocolate is approximately equivalent to 2/3 cup chocolate chips.  For the ganache, 1 can of a good quality full-fat Coconut Milk should give you the 2/3 cups of the creamy top layer that you need.  However, I suggest having a second can handy just in case.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting (nut-free)

Ingredients (frosting):

1.    Melt chocolate on medium power in the microwave or over low heat in a saucepan oon the stove.
2.    Allow coconut milk to sit still at least overnight at room temperature (if your coconut milk does not separate at room temperature, keep it in the fridge instead).  Carefully open can (or jar) and scoop the creamy top layer.  Measure 2/3 cups (reserve the remainder of the coconut milk for some other use).
3.    Combine melted chocolate and coconut cream (it’s okay if the cream is at room temperature or cold from the fridge).  Blend in a Blender until completely smooth.  Let cool to room temperature before frosting cupcakes (if it isn’t completely smooth when you go to frost with it, whip it quickly in a Standing Mixer or blend again in your blender).

Ingredients (cupcakes):

1.    Line a muffin pan with paper or Silicone Muffin Cup liners.  Preheat oven to 350F.
2.    Melt chocolate and coconut oil together on low power in the microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat on the stove.  Let cool several minutes.
3.    Place eggs, vanilla, and salt in a Blender.  Blend briefly to beat the eggs.  Add a small amount of the chocolate mixture and pulse again to temper the eggs.  Then add the rest of the chocolate mixture and beat together for 30 seconds.
4.    Add the cocoa powder, coconut flour and baking soda.  Blend to combine (maybe another 30 seconds).  (You could also mix the batter in a Standing Mixer, in which case, just sift the coconut flour and cocoa first.)   Let the batter sit for 2-3 minutes to thicken.
5.    Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan (cups will be filled about ¾ full).  Bake for 17-18 minutes.
6.    Carefully remove from muffin pan promptly upon removing from the oven (use a knife to gently pry them out as opposed to dumping them all out).  Let cool to room temperature before frosting (pipe the frosting or just spread with a knife!).  Enjoy!


These look very delish and I can’t wait to try your recipe out (the frosting is a great idea). Do you think these cakes would keep for a day or so or are they a “scoff on the same day” cake!?

My birthday is next week and have asked my hubby and daughter to make these for me…..can’t wait finally a healthy birthday treat, yippy!

These look amazing! Wondering how many they make and are they mini’s or full size? Also wondering if it’s correct that it’s 6 eggs and 2 TBSP of coconut flour? Just want to know it’s not a typo! Thanks so much.

These look amazing! I needed something to make to bring for a weekend trip to see family. These will be perfect! I do have a question regarding the semi sweet chocolate…can you indicate a good brand to use? I used Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate for a recipe I made a few weeks ago. But it made me nervous b/c I wasn’t entirely sure if I should use it or not. Thanks!! :)

The only real downside to Baker’s semi-sweet is that it has soy lecithin in it. Many people can tolerate it though, so if you aren’t super sensitive, go ahead and use Baker’s (I do for my family but I can’t handle soy lecithin myself). A fabulous brand of chocolate (chips) that we love is Enjoy Life. You can substitute 2/3 cup chocolate chips for 8oz chocolate. Here’s the link:

These look delicious. I just made my first paleo-friendly birthday cake. I like of these a bit more than my first attempt. Luckily, my birthday is right around the corner for another attempt.

I kinda made it. I think I’ve just found the cake I’m going to make for my wedding. I’m slightly in awe, so bear with me here.
I made lots of substitutions, just because I didn’t have the right ingredients. And the prep was interesting bc I didn’t have a proper bowl, mixer, or blender. Just some tall plastic cups and a stick blender that might have perished in the process of mixing the batch with coconut powder. Poor stick blender, he was my friend. :(

Instead of 8oz of semi-sweet I used 7oz of unsweetened baker’s chocolate that I had, thinking I could add an ounce of maple syrup and ta-da, it would be the same, right? Wrong! Had to keep adding syrup, like 5 tablespoons total. I thought: that’s a lot of chocolate, and my eggs seem kinda small and I only have 7 eggs anyway. So 7 eggs went into the cup, in two batches. In one of those batches, I sprinkled some cream of tartar to see if made them more fluffy. It did. (is cream of tartar Paleo in the health/inflamation sense? I don’t care about the evolutionary stuff.) I omitted the cocoa powder, and added more coconut flour, not sure how much. I also sprinkled more baking soda on it, afraid it would be too dense. Last but not least: a tablespoon of cinnamon bc I love Mexican Chocolate cake.
Didn’t take long to bake, closer to 10 mins, in two 9 inch pans.
Result: absolutely amazing!!!! Moist, fluffy deliciousness!!! Can’t really taste the cinnamon, though. My gluten-loving Significant Other says it tastes like real chocolate cake.
I am amazed.

So do you think the baking soda or cream of tartar made it fluffy? I found the original way too dense. My kids ate it up and but me and hubby agreed that if you have eaten real cupcakes before, sorry but these will not cut it! I thought the number of eggs was insane but I am also new to gfree baking so maybe that is normal. To me they were eggy and dense.

Ok am making these right now and used a can of coconut “cream” instead. The coconut taste is too strong for me for the frosting after adding the chocolate chips AND it’s very incredibly liquidy! Is that just because it hasn’t cooled all the way? A bit worried. Thoughts on what to add to temper the taste a bit?

Coconut cream should be the same thing, but I’m not familiar with using it (haven’t seen it any stores near me, so I’ve never tried it). The ganache I made didn’t taste coconutty at all. Maybe add a bit more chocolate? It should solidify as it cools down.

Mine were fluffy, and the cream of tartar definitely helps! And I did add quite a bit more baking soda. Coconut flour varies a lot from brand to brand (actually so do egg sizes), so how much liquid it needs varies. When raw, this batter was more of a pudding-like consistency then the very thick baby-food consistency that some coconut-flour batters resemble.

Hi Sara! I made these cupcakes and they were perfect!! So moisty with such a good taste of chocolate. I made them with 70% chocolate. My parents aren’t paleo yet but they loved it! My mom couldnt belive that it had no normal flour in it. My boyfriend and I have been paleo for over 3 months now, and your blog is helping us alot. Thank you!

I absolutely love these. My kids did, too. Also, I just wanted to share that I did freeze them (frosting atop) and then thawed them in the fridge and they were just as delicious with no visible signs of being frozen.

Today I made a half batch of these and they were very good. (I wanted to test them without having to deplete my supply of the elusive Enjoy Life chips.) Because I was making such a small volume, I was able to use my stick blender.

I found that my paper baking cups were only about 2/3 full, but the cupcakes rose and were full-size. And they didn’t get that sunken in look that traditional cupcakes sometimes have after they cool.

I made the frosting after the cupcakes had cooled-again with my stick blender. This was a nerve-wracking experience because I had placed 3 cans of full fat coconut milk into my fridge (Thai Kitchen brand), but when I opened the first one there was no solid cream on top! So I opened the next can. And found the same problem!! Thankfully, when I opened the third can there was lots of solid cream (probably 3/4 of the can). This highlighted for me the importance of shaking the cans in the store and listening for liquidy sounds. If you want to use the cream, don’t buy the liquidy ones. (I think fat levels vary from one harvest to the next.) This frosting was incredibly delicious! It is like chocolate mousse. I may even make it some time as a stand-alone dessert, or to dollop on berries.

The cake itself has a nice texture, but I found it a tiny bit bland. I may try adding espresso powder, or more vanilla, or cinnamon (or all of the above) to boost the flavor next time. But with the delicious frosting it is quite a satisfying cupcake.

I am looking forward to taking these to my daughter’s bridal shower as a gluten-free alternative to the cake we have ordered.

I made these for my daughter’s birthday party and they were a big hit! Thank you!!! I loved that they aren’t super-sweet. I couldn’t taste the coconut at all but my friend could (but didn’t find it unpleasant). LOVE!!

[…] Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache: I’ve tried quite a few Paleo cupcake recipes, and these are just INCREDIBLE. I was super nervous about the cake part of the party…the easiest place to be “found out” by the kids for serving something with no grains or sugar or dairy! I’d heard horror stories about other families serving gluten free cake or treats at a party and having a party guest go BONKERS that it tasted “different.” We’re talking full-blown tantrums here, folks. I was determined that this would not happen at our party! These cupcakes did not let me down. Every kid ate their cupcake happily, seemingly unaware that is wasn’t “normal.” The grownups enjoyed them too! Maybe everyone was being very polite (we have delightfully kind friends), but I know of at least two people at the party who snuck into the kitchen and ended up eating THREE cupcakes! I’m calling that an epic win! The recipe is easy to follow, and it feels incredibly awesome to know you’re not sending kids home on a sugar high! /* Tags: art party, healthy party food, kids birthday party food ideas, paleo birthday party, paleo dessert recipe, paleo snacks This post may contain affiliate links or other sponsored material. Opinions are 100% the author's. […]

Just made the frosting and it is not fluffy at all! Are you only supposed to use the very thick part of the coconut creme? Can I add more coconut creme to thicken it? Or is there something else I can use to fix what I already made without wasting it? Thanks

When you say promptly remove them from the muffin pan, do you mean remove them from the liners too? Did yours stick to the liners? I am wanting to make some for my soon to be 4 yr olds b-day and I’ve tried a similar recipe and used paper liners and they stuck like crazy, I don’t know if I didn’t let them cool long enough or too long. Any suggestions appreciated! I’ve only recently found your site, but I LOVE it, thank you!

Why remove the heavy cream from the coconut milk? I would assume that is why you bought the full fat coconut milk. I buy coconut CREAM (either at an Asian store or apparently now Trader Joes). Mix the cream with the wey for a nice thick milk. It should keep it from being too runny. Coconut cream is NOT the same as Coconut milk. No more than the same as 2% Cow milk to Heavy cream.
Looks delicious. Perhaps if it is too dense it is more of a brownie, I prefer brownies. Chocolate cake recipes normally use 3 eggs.

Made these tonight and they came out BETTER than they look — and they look fantastic! Made 14 cupcakes for us and more than enough frosting. Paleo family members and non-Paleo family members could not believe how great they were. Non-paleo family kept checking dietary information over and over in shock. :) Thank you so much! I look forward to trying more of your recipes! :)

I need help! I was going to use my own bar of chocolate (Equal exchange mint chocolate) but I’m very confused by the amount of chocolate I need. You said 8oz or 2/3 cup of chocolate chips. But my chocolate bar is only 3.5 oz and fills up MORE than 2/3 cup. If I used 8oz of chocolate that would be a little more than 2 bars of chocolate, is that right? I’m making these for my daughter’s birthday so would love it if anyone could please help me! :)

Thank you so much for this delicious recipe. I made the cup cakes last night, for my daughter’s 1st birthday party today. (She’s not paleo but I was making food to suit all the children’ allergies…sugar free, diary free, gluten free and egg free ( so I used fake egg substitute) only made 1/2 the amount as I underestimated how much chocolate I would need. However, it made 12 small cup cakes.
Unfortunately I messed ultimately the ganache…it was looking perfect….and then thought I could get more of it by adding more coconut cream! Well, it just went sloppy. It did harden in the fridge, but by then I’d already put it on my cakes.
Party goers enjoyed them. My daughter loved her first ever taste of chocolate too!

I made this in two 8-inch pans. I baked them for 18 minutes, but should have gone 16 minutes. Layered with my own ganache recipe. It made the perfect 40th birthday cake! Thanks for the great recipes!a

The cupcakes were absolutely amazing! You’d never know they were grain free. I did add 1/4 cup of coconut sugar so they’d be sweet. The frosting never set up for me, it was a bit on the runny side, but tasted like whipped cream frosting. A big hit for my birthday boy.

The ganache recipe is great. Just made from another website , was watery, but they never instructed to use the thick cream . Can tell you have more knowledge. Will make as soon as my other dessert runs out.

BTW these are delicious after being frozen and thawed on the counter for about 15min. I just ate the last cupcake from my son’s 4th birthday, which was in December. Thanks Paleo MOM!!

I added the calories, carbs, and fat for all the ingredients and divided by 10 (the number of cupcakes I found that the recipe made) and it came out to 340 calories, 24.8g carbs, and 27.4g of total fat. I was mostly concerned about carbs because I have gestational diabetes and was looking for a natural chocolate fix! Hope this helps!

Thank you for posting this recipe! My family and I recently became Paleo in the last 3 months and I wanted to make something Paleo-approved for my birthday while also introducing my husband’s family to the Paleo lifestyle. When I found this recipe online, I was a little relieved that it only made 12 cupcakes. Many times, I just want to make a dozen cupcakes and not 24 and not knowing how these were going to be received, I didn’t want to have to bring home a ton. I was pleasantly surprised that they were eaten. With gusto. So much so that I was a tiny bit disappointed that I only brought home one.

I did have a few questions though. Reading through some of the previous comments, I see that some people, like me, also had their cupcakes turn out more dense, like a flourless torte, rather than light and fluffy. When I took the cupcakes out of the oven, I noticed that they were really puffy and had a nice “dome” shape to them, but once I place the pan on a cooling rack, the domes shrank in size and I lost all the fluffy goodness. Can you recommend or suggest any ideas on how to keep the fluffiness?

Just made this cake. We’re working through cake recipes to use for my daughter’s 2nd birthday party next weekend. This one looks like the winner for what I want to do. Despite not having a working blender, using my old electric hand mixer seemed to work just fine for this cake texture. For the frosting, I didn’t get a separation in my can of coconut (organic full fat), so I put the mix of the coconut milk and melted chocolate into the freezer for about 15 minutes. Using my trusty old electric hand mixer again on the “frosting blend” speed (about 2/3rds of speeds up the dial) and then the “egg white/ souffle” (which is fastest speed) speed for the 30 seconds or so minute or so to finish I got the sustainable consistency I wanted. I am making this cake into an Owl using a 12 oz and 1 qt Pyrex bowl as my cake molds. The frosting appears to be mold-able enough for feathers. Will make a white ganache frosting for the white feathers of the owl. The cake can certainly be chilled for a couple of days or more. Just pull out to warm to room temperature and you have – no joke – RESTAURANT QUALITY FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE. Actually BETTER than many restaurants!! It may be even too good rich for a 2 year old’s birthday cake. But we are making it partnered with a banana /yogurt/ almond flour muffin for the non chocolate guests:)~ Healthiest cake recipe I can find that works!!!. Thanks for coming up with this recipe Paleo Mom!!!

Made these yesterday for my birthday. They were perfect! Easy to make, perfect level of sweetness, and even my 80% paleo husband thought they were so delicious!

Very good! My extremely picky husband loved them! Made them for my sons’ 4th birthday. A hit with him too! Thank you for the recipe!

Could I use butter instead of coconut oil? My 8 year old is EXTREMELY fussy and won’t eat it even if has a hint of coconut in anything!

Any idea on a sub for the coconut cream in the frosting? I’ve been searching for a frosting idea that is Paleo friendly but can’t seem to find one that doesn’t include coconut milk/cream. I can find thin icings using whipped honey, which is delicious, but I’m looking for a good frosting in either vanilla or chocolate and this looks yummy. Sadly, I’m still allergic to coconut and am having no luck making a frosting that is Paleo friendly.

This may have already been addressed in the comments, but is this cupcake safe for a 12 month old? Trying to find a “smash cake” for his birthday party. 😉 I don’t see any red-flag ingredients like honey, but just wanted to check. He hasn’t really had any chocolate yet…

a lot of your baking recipes are full of eggs, which seems normal, but unfortunately, I’ve been told by my doctor I cannot eat eggs because of allergies. Is egg substitute going to work for baked goods, or should I forget it . I have tried a gluten, soy, egg, corn, nut free cake boxed mix and pancake mix from whole foods and it was horrible – not sure if it is because of the egg substitute or just the mixture. Thanks for your advice.

This might be a silly question but do these count as sugar free? I use this recipe for my go to gluten free cupcakes (I’m a hobbies cake decorator) and I have been asked for a sugar free chocolate cupcake? I don’t know much about what makes something sugar free.

Technically, I don’t think so because of the sugar in the chocolate. You may want to ask your customer if that is okay. But there are no added sugars in this cupcake recipe. —- Tamar (Sarah’s assistant)

Yeah, that should be about right. I’ve never tried though, so I don’t know how long the cooking time would be or whether this recipe would cook evenly enough to work (although I think it would).

Awesome!!! I am loving your recipes … I have tried three!! Though I have to use white rice flour (not sure if it’s paleo) bc I cannot find coconut flour in my town in Alaska.

womp womp…they were delish (and the frosting was amazing and used as pudding and a topping for strawberries. holy moly) but back to the womp womp – they totally collapsed. they tasted fine, but looked horrific. we used flax instead of egg. the batter was really gelatinous. maybe don’t make one flax egg for one egg egg? can you help with any ideas? thanks!

hello – do these stick to paper wrappers like many coconut flour recipes do? I’m debating on making them as a cake or cupcakes…..

Hello, I baked this today for my Bible study couples group. I wanted a cake so used a 9X13 metal pan. I baked it for 19 minutes which was too long. It was a bit dry. It was still very good though and everyone wants your recipe. Won’t they be surprised when I give it to them?! Next time and there will be a next time very soon, I would bake it for 15-17 minutes so it won’t be too dry. Thank you so much for a wonderful recipe!

Hi There!
How I love you for sharing this recipe! I have one question. .. Does it need to pass the toothpick test after those 17-18 minutes? My toothpick did not come out clean until after 21 minutes. .. and when they are completely cooled they feel quite hard to the touch. .. However, when I bite into them, especially with the frosting on, they are surprisingly much softer than expected. .. they are more spongy than fudgy…. If this is ideal I’m perfectly happy with it, but if I am over cooking them I definitely want to try them the right way!

Thanks! :)

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