Gluten-Free German Chocolate Cupcakes

German Chocolate Cupcakes {Gluten-Free} | Wheat-Free Meat-Free

I think it’s been mentioned before that my grandma also has Celiac disease. She used to be quite a baker and made all our birthday cakes when we were little. These days I don’t think she feels up to all the mess, so we bake for her. Last week was her birthday, so I made German chocolate cupcakes.

I adapted Martha Stewart’s German chocolate cupcake recipe as well as her recipe for the coconut-pecan frosting. In the course of my recipe searching, I learned that German chocolate cake is not so named because it comes from Germany. The Baker’s Chocolate Co. produces a Baker’s German Chocolate named for Samuel German, the man who developed it. And if you go buy a box, it has the original German chocolate cake recipe on it. I only learned all this after I had gone shopping for the ingredients for Martha’s recipe though, so I stuck with Martha.

German Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 5 ounces (3/4 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 2/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) of butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt the chocolate chips in a double-boiler or microwave. Stir in the coffee powder. Set aside, and allow to come to room temperature.
  2. Whisk the flours, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl or mixing bowl if using a stand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, thoroughly incorporating after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  4. Add in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 cup of buttermilk, another 1/3 of flour, the remaining buttermilk, then the remaining flour, making sure the ingredients are incorporated after each addition. Finally add in the melted chocolate and blend well.
  5. Grease a muffin tin or line the cups with liners. Divide the batter evenly between the cups. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a cupcake comes out clean. Remove the tins from the oven and set on wire racks. When cool enough to handle, remove the cupcakes from the tins, place on racks, and allow to cool completely.

Coconut Pecan Frosting

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) of butter, chopped into small pieces and at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 2/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
  1. Heat a medium-sized frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the pecans. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the pecans are lightly browned and fragrant, a few minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Combine the egg yolks, evaporated milk, and brown sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Mix well. Add the butter. Bring the pot to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt. Then mix in the coconut and pecans. Stir to combine and allow to cool to room temperature.

To Assemble:

  1. Once the cupcakes and the frosting have reached room temperature, spread a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and serve.

Makes 24 cupcakes

The cupcakes were light and springy. The batter reminded me of a whipped mousse. I got the idea to add powdered coffee after seeing David Lebovitz’s version, which also involved coffee. The goal was to have the coffee add a richness to the chocolate without a person being able to taste its presence. It’s optional, and you can leave the coffee powder out if you don’t have any.

As you can see in the pictures, I did all my mixing in a stand mixer. It’s certainly easier that way. But, being a person who did not have a stand mixer for many years, I know that you can do all the mixing by hand, and I didn’t want to give the impression you need a stand mixer to make the cupcakes. Do be prepared to get an arm workout though.

While they are undoubtedly chocolate cupcakes, the chocolate flavor is on the subtle side. The frosting is much more the star of the show. Coconut and pecans held together in a caramel sauce. Nothing bad about that, unless you don’t like coconut or pecans. (I’m sorry to hear you feel that way.)

This recipe also shared in Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Hearth and Soul Hop.

Looking for More Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes?

Take a look at my book, The Wheat-Free Meat-Free Cookbook: 100 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes.

A sampling of the recipes included:
  • Breakfasts: Cinnamon Quinoa Muffins, Yeasted Waffles, Gooey Butter Cake,
  • Sides: Patatas Bravas, Pea and New Potato Salad, Braised Celery,
  • Mains: Corn Waffle Sandwiches, Enchiladas with Green Sauce, Pesto Asparagus Galette, and
  • Desserts: Blueberry Mango Crisp, Baklava Rolls, Amaretto Cake.

You can see the full recipe list on the Amazon page.


  1. Beautiful pictures! I LOVE german chocolate cake! Never thought to make cupcakes with it! Good idea!

  2. I’m about to dive head first into your batter bowl lol Those cupcakes look lovely!!

  3. Thanks Carrie. The only reason I ended up with cupcakes is because I don’t own cake pans. I keep telling myself to just buy some, but never actually do it.

    Melanie, yes, it was very hard not to dive into the bowl of batter. ;)

  4. These cupcakes — and your photography — look wonderful. Thanks for adapting and sharing!

  5. These look so amazing. Drooling.

  6. Thank you Eileen and Alta. :)

  7. Kalinda–I saved the email notification for this post and I’m so glad I did! Stunning cupcakes, my dear. I bet your grandmother absolutely loved them! Happy birthday to her! Now off to share your recipe link with others …


  8. Aww, thanks Shirley. You’re the best!

  9. those look incredible!!

  10. Wow! I cannot wait to make your frosting, thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul!

  11. Your cake looks so good! German Chocolate Cake is a favourite of mine, and although none of my family is allergic to gluten, it is nice to avoid it when we can! Thank you for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul hop. I mentioning it as one of my highlights in my post this week.

  12. Mmmm! I spotted these on Shirley’s new site, and HAD to click over. These cupcakes look amazing!

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