Gluten-Free Quinoa Cupcakes: Quinoa for Breakfast Part 2


These gluten-free quinoa cupcakes were inspired by A Southern Grace’s apple cinnamon quinoa breakfast which I wrote about in part one of quinoa for breakfast. However, I am dedicating the gluten-free cupcakes to Cathy (a gluten-free friend of mine) whose husband wrote me this email back in September:

“Okay, so I just read the blog posting about the lonely ‘cupcake’ from your recent trip and it made me wonder if you’ve given any further thought to creating a gluten-free cupcake?

You could put your creative mind to a real cupcake challenge and take your game to the next level (mixing flours in addition to mixing ingredients)! This could be your chance to shine as a gluten-free superstar, while bringing hope to the despaired. I urge you to rise up and throw off the shackles of society; tell wheat that you don’t have to use it…tell it that other options exist…show the world you are not the slave to boring flower any more! Wheat-free or die (or at least sick)! Join us in the revolution… Long live tapioca!!”

What a man! Can’t you just picture him as a superhero fighting glutens? You’d think he was the gluten-free one and not his wife. Admittedly, it took me 6 months to respond with gluten-free cupcakes, but these were worth the wait! They were light and fluffy and had a surprise apple cinnamon center. The quinoa gave them a nutty flavor which went perfectly with the apples.

I topped the cupcakes with a penuche frosting. I was turned onto this frosting by an anonymous commenter who insisted that I google penuche and try it. It’s basically a brown sugar frosting that tastes like caramel. It’s basically delicious! I will be using this frosting recipe again and again. Not only did it taste great, but it was smooth and easy to spread.

Groom 2.0 Called This Cupcake a Wedding Contender

Groom 2.0 actually called this cupcake a wedding contender. I was shocked. There was no chocolate involved. I expected this to be a cupcake that Bride 2.0 would like. However, Bride 2.0 didn’t like it. She liked the frosting and the apple part, but didn’t like the taste of quinoa and thought the cake on its own was too dry.

My mother-in-law said: “Liked everything about it…taste, texture, quinoa, etc. Would never have guessed the ingredients.”

A friend, who is becoming such a regular taster that my loaner Tupperware practically has his name on it, reported: “One of the best combinations of flavors, I enjoyed this very autumn cupcake. The gluten-free dough was a little dry, but I enjoyed the texture. Overall moistness is a critical component to a stellar cupcake from me, and this could have been a little moister.”

His co-taster disagreed with his point about the texture. “Overall moisture was satisfactory because of the surprise center.”

If I made these gluten-free cupcakes again, I would try mixing the apple filling throughout rather than only putting it in the middle of the cupcake. It would ruin the surprise factor, but I think it might address any issues with moistness.

If you are gluten-free or gluten-full and are looking for a tasty and different cupcake to try, I would definitely feel comfortable recommending this one.

Gluten-Free Quinoa Cupcake Recipe

I got the recipe for these cupcakes by adapting a recipe at Lucullian Delights to cupcake format. I am reprinting the recipe below with my modifications. One modification of note is that her recipe has coconut in it. That’s on the banned foods list for Bride and Groom 2.0 so I left it out.
  • 2 1/2-3 cups diced apples (about 2 medium sized apples)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 4 large eggs
  • 9 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup cooked quinoa (You cook quinoa in the same way that you would cook rice. Read part one of quinoa for breakfast if you need more detailed cooking directions. I started with 1 C of uncooked quinoa and ended up with enough for this recipe plus plenty left over to have for breakfast or any other meal. I used Red Inca quinoa, hence the dark spots in the cake.)
  • 1 3/4 cups rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  1. Simmer the apple cubes with the water, sugar, cinnamon, and rum until the apple is cooked and almost all the liquid is evaporated. Try very hard not to eat it all before putting it in the cupcakes. There will be some left over. I ate it with the leftover penuche frosting. You could just make the apples and frosting and forget the cupcakes entirely and be quite happy.
  2. Whisk the egg and sugar and add the melted butter. Stir well.
  3. Add the quinoa, mix well, and then add the flour and baking powder. Stir well.
  4. Fill 12 cupcake liners about 1/3 full with batter.
  5. Add a layer of apples.
  6. Top with another layer of batter so that they are all about 3/4 full.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until the tops bounce back when you touch them.

Alternative: Mix the apples in with the batter instead of doing layers. I have not tried this, but I think it might be even better than the layered method.

Penuche Frosting Recipe
I got the penuche frosting recipe from Southern Food on About.Com.

  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1 C brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 C milk
  • 2 C sifted confectioners’ sugar (I only used about a cup)
  1. In a saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter.
  2. Add the brown sugar.
  3. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium low and continue to boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Cool to lukewarm. Gradually add sifted confectioners’ sugar. (I would highly recommend sifting this confectioners’ sugar. It’s such a pain to sift, but it ensures that the frosting will be extra smooth.)
  6. Beat until thick enough to spread. If too thick, add a little hot water.

Looking for More Gluten-Free Cupcake Ideas?

I am entering this cupcake into the blog event Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free. If you are looking for more ideas for gluten-free cupcakes, check out the round-up here. Remember, any cake recipe can easily be converted to a cupcake. Your cupcakes may take less time to bake than the cake recipe. Typically they take 20 minutes at 350 degrees. I recommend making a test cupcake first to see how much it rises and how long it takes to bake before you bake the entire batch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *