Gluten-free Christmas tree cupcakes recipe – super festive and 100% beginner-friendly. Best of all, nobody could EVER tell that they’re Coeliac-friendly and wheat-free.
Gluten-free Christmas tree cupcakes recipe, anyone? Sitting on top of a super chocolatey and moist cupcake lies a cute mini Christmas tree that you can decorate however you like – guaranteed to get you in the festive mood!
If you haven’t got your fave Christmas soundtrack on yet, then now’s the time to do it!
Why? Well because this is the ultimate festive baking project that’s easy to make and perfect if you have any little helper elves in the kitchen.
Here’s everything you’ll need for this recipe:
Gluten-free Christmas tree cupcakes recipe: What you’ll need…
- Butter: Salted or unsalted is totally fine (I use unsalted), but whichever you go for, make sure it’s softened first.
- Caster sugar: Sugar isn’t just for sweetness – it helps to achieve a lovely crisp exterior and helps the cupcakes to form a perfect crumb.
- Medium Eggs: I use medium eggs for this recipe, but large works fine too. If you can’t tolerate egg, check the vegan section of the FAQ for some simple swaps you can try.
- Gluten-free self-raising flour: I use a simple commercial blend from the free from aisle in the supermarket. If you can’t find a blend like this where you live, you can always make your own using my gluten-free flour recipe.
- Gluten-free baking powder: Not all baking powder is gluten-free so make sure you read the ingredients list first!
- Cocoa Powder: Ideally sieve before using or it can be quite lumpy.
- Xanthan gum: This helps to bind the cake crumb together so it doesn’t become crumbly, replacing the gluten that would otherwise do the same job.
- Vanilla extract: The better quality yours is, the better your buttercream will taste.
- Icing sugar: You’ll need this for the buttercream as caster sugar won’t work here.
- Chocolate stars: Of course, these are for the top of your tree! I used Milky Way Magic stars covered in a little gold leaf and yes – they’re both gluten-free.
- Gluten-free sprinkles: The perfect finishing touch! Use whatever colours you wish, but ensure yours a gluten-free as some can contain wheat flour.
So here’s the fun part for me: describing what my gluten-free Christmas tree cupcakes taste like!
The sponge is delightfully chocolatey, soft, light, fluffy and sweet. Think of this part as the ‘earth’ that the tree is planted into!
Then, it’s all topped with a green vanilla icing which is fluffy, sweet and dangerously more-ish.
And of course, they’re then finished with a few festive sprinkles and a chocolate star on top. In short, it tastes absolutely mind-blowing!
Gluten-free Christmas tree cupcakes recipe: Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this recipe gluten-free? Is it suitable for Coeliacs?
It is gluten-free, though nobody would know just by tasting it – trust me!
Bear in mind that minimising cross-contamination is hugely important if you’re Coeliac or making this for someone who is. Here’s some tips from Coeliac UK on minimising the risk of cross contamination.
Also, make sure that all ingredients used don’t have any gluten-containing ingredients. Then make sure that they also don’t have a ‘may contain’ warning for gluten, wheat, rye, barley, oats (which aren’t gf), spelt and khorasan wheat (aka Kamut).
Here’s some more info from Coeliac UK on identifying safe gluten-free products.
How do I make this recipe dairy-free?
Easily, with a few simple swaps!
- Use Stork hard margarine instead of butter.
- Ensure your cocoa powder is dairy-free.
- Swap the chocolate stars for dairy-free chocolate star cereal.
Can I make your gluten-free Christmas tree cupcakes recipe vegan?
Yep! If you follow the instructions above to make this recipe dairy free, then all you’ve got left to contend with is the eggs.
Here’s a few ideas you can use as egg replacements in the cupcakes, so each of these = 1 egg.
- 3 tablespoons of aquafaba – water from a can of chickpeas. Make sure you whisk it up until frothy before adding.
- Egg replacement powder – I’d recommend using Orgran as it’s gluten free.
- 1 tablespoon of chia/flax seeds mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and left for 10 minutes in the fridge.
- 3 tablespoons of applesauce.
I haven’t tested all of these egg alternatives so let me know how you get on in the comments below.
Is this recipe low FODMAP?
Yes! Simply swap the chocolate star on top for dairy-free chocolate star cereal. Ensure any decorations used are low FODMAP.
What did you use to decorate the cupcakes?
Now there’s something you should know: my cupboards are full of almost all the gluten-free sprinkles from supermarkets in existence! (I am a bit of a collector ?)
So with that in mind, the sprinkles and decorations I used are from Waitrose and Morrisons. You buy the MilkyWay Magic Stars in any supermarket down the confectionary aisle and the edible gold leaf is in Sainsburys.
But of course, feel free to use whatever you have lurking in the cupboards – as long as they’re gluten-free!
- Waitrose Christmas Hundreds and Thousands
- Waitrose Holly and Berry Sprinkles: I used just the red balls.
- Cake Decor Blue and White Christmas Sprinkles: I used only the silver pearls. You can usually buy them in Morrisons and Tesco but they appear to be out of stock on the Tesco website.
- MilkyWay Magic Stars covered in edible gold leaf. You can always use these as an alternative too.
Which green food colouring did you use for the buttercream?
Please don’t use food colouring you’d find in supermarkets. To achieve the green colour required for this recipe, you’d need to add so much of it that it’d make the icing too wet.
A food colouring gel is the way to go!
Do I need any special equipment to bake your gluten-free Christmas tree cupcakes?
Certainly not! You will need a good quality muffin tray, so here’s a link to the one I use.
Can I use gluten-free flours like almond flour or coconut flour to make this recipe?
Certainly not using this recipe. This recipe uses gluten-free plain flour which is easily available in supermarkets here in the UK.
If you can’t find it where you live, you can always make your own using my gluten-free flour recipe.
The reason you can’t use flours like almond or coconut in this recipe is because gluten-free plain flour is a blend of lots of different gluten-free flours and starches.
So to ditch a carefully made blend and try to substitute them all for ONE flour… it’s just not going to work!
Gluten-free Christmas tree cupcakes recipe: Tips for perfection!
- Spoon an even amount of cupcake batter per cupcake case – that way, they’ll all bake at the same speed.
- Don’t overdo the baking powder, or it can make your cupcakes sink in the middle. Be careful when measuring it out!
- Once you’ve made the cupcake batter, bake it ASAP. The rising power of the baking powder will degrade quickly, resulting in denser, less risen cupcakes.
- Allow your cupcakes to fully cool before piping on the cream or buttercream – it will melt otherwise!
- If you’re new to piping buttercream – watch a YouTube video first! The first half of this video will tell/show you everything you need to know for this recipe.
Gluten-free Christmas Tree Cupcakes Recipe
For the cupcakes
- 200 g butter softened (use Stork hard margarine if dairy-free)
- 200 g caster sugar
- 4 medium eggs
- 165 g gluten-free self-raising flour
- 25 g cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
For the buttercream
- 200 g butter softened (use Stork hard margarine if dairy-free)
- 400 g icing sugar plus extra to finish the cupcakes for a snowy finish
- 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
- green food colouring gel see FAQ for more info
- gluten-free Christmas sprinkles
- chocolate stars for the top of each mini tree (see FAQ for more info)
- edible gold leaf optional
For the cupcakes:
- Preheat your oven to 160C Can / 180C and place cupcake cases into your cupcake tin. I sprinkle a little rice into each hole before the case as this helps reduce unwanted moisture.
- Cream together your softened butter and sugar using an electric hand whisk. Do so until lighter in colour and fluffier in texture.
- Gradually add your eggs (I whisk briefly in between each addition) and mix in.
- Sift in your flour, cocoa, baking powder and xanthan gum and then mix with your electric hand whisk until combined.
- Spoon your mixture into your cupcake cases and place in the preheated oven for 20-22 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool very briefly in the tin, then move the cases to a cooling rack.
For the buttercream:
- For the buttercream, ensure your butter is soft and at room temperature. I find it takes a good hour out of the fridge to soften, but never let it go too soft! Place your butter into a large bowl or a stand mixer and mix on a medium speed for about 3-5 minutes until the butter has gone a lot more pale in colour.
- Add your icing sugar gradually. I add it in 2 stages and beat for about 3 minutes between each addition. Start your mixer slowly to save your kitchen from a real icing sugar mess, but then increase the speed to medium / high for each of your 3 minutes.
- Add your vanilla extract and mix once more then add your green food colouring. Ideally use a highly concentrated gel colouring rather than a liquid one (Sugar flair, Colour Splash and Pro Gel are all brands I use). Mix thoroughly so the colouring coats all the buttercream and its the colour you want – with good colouring you shouldn’t need more than a tsp really, but get it to a colour you are happy with.
- It should now be done. Ensure it’s the right thickness – it should be if you’ve beaten it for long enough. However, if it’s too thick you can add a tiny amount of milk. And if too thin, sieve in a little extra icing sugar – this might be the case for dairy free buttercream using hard margarine. Neither of these should be necessary but I thought I’d mention, just incase!
To assemble: (all decorations are linked in FAQ section)
- Once your cupcakes are cool, transfer your green icing into a piping bag with a medium closed star nozzle. See the video in my 5 top tips for perfection above for guidance. Then, pipe your buttercream on top.
- Finish with large pearl sprinkles and place around each cupcake like baubles. Next, scatter smaller colourful sprinkles on top and sift on a delicate sprinkling of icing sugar to look like snow.
- Finish with a chocolate star on top (I covered some of mine in a little gold leaf for the ultimate finish). Of course, these are just how I finished mine in the photos – feel free to use whatever you like!
Thanks for reading all about my gluten-free Christmas tree cupcakes recipe! If you make it, I’d love to see how it turned out so don’t forget to take a snap of your creations and tag me on Instagram!
Any questions about the recipe? Please do let me know by following me on Instagram and leaving me a comment on a recent photo!
Thanks for reading,
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