Tag Archives: holiday

The Christmas Baking Begins (gluten-free chocolate peppermint christmas light cupcakes)

10 Dec

I told Brandon I made him a Christmas valentine. I look more asian than in real life, though..

‘Tis the season to bake cookies. And cakes and cupcakes and tarts and breads and anything that warms your kitchen with good smells and joy. I never seem to need an excuse to bake but the holiday season provides one nonetheless. We went to a big family holiday party today (Brandon’s family) so naturally I felt this would be the perfect excuse to make a large amount of cupcakes. Chocolate peppermint cupcakes to be specific. These babies were very distracting while in the oven since the whole house basically smelled like hot cocoa. This is a good thing.

My mom called me yesterday and mentioned that holiday cookie baking and decorating with my aunts and cousins had been cancelled due to lack of interest. The only one with any desire to decorate sugar cookies any more is my youngest cousin Max, who is really only concerned with consuming as much frosting as humanly possible. My mom then continued on to tell me that holiday baking was all up to me. Naturally, I accepted my heavy burden with stoic dignity…not. I laughed maniacally and rubbed my palms together, looking entirely like a cartoon villain with a horrible plan that you know will never work out. THE BAKING IS ALL MINE!

Aside from my mom, who is totally badass in the kitchen, no one else on her side of the family is very committed to cooking. My aunt Heidi occasionally makes amazing German food, but it’s a rare occasion. My grandma, when left to her own devices, would leave the Thanksgiving turkey in the oven for the entire day until no moisture remained. My aunt Karen just moved back to Chicago, so now she just gets to eat at really awesome restaurants all the time. Even I rejected cooking for the better part of my adolescence. I always thought that since my mom was so good at it, why should I learn? Also, no high schooler has any interest in anything their parents are interested in or think they should be interested in. It’s really quite silly.

Anyways, college taught me the cold hard lesson that I was not an amazing cook simply by osmosis. The first time I cooked dinner for a college boyfriend, I set the fire alarm off while cooking tuna steaks. I found some non-college friends who showed me that there were other young people who cared about food, and I slowly started to learn to cook. I had at least acquired good taste from my mom’s cooking, but the techniques were what I needed to work on. My mom got me a brilliant set of knives and taught me how to use them, and now I cringe when I see someone drag a knife blade across the cutting board. I realized that I had good ideas and I knew what flavors naturally worked together, and now my boyfriend claims that he’s going to forget how to cook because he just prefers when I do it. Food has become a much bigger and healthier part of my life. Being gluten-free and mostly vegetarian has helped me to develop a better idea of what should and should not go into my body. And Brandon is the perfect match for me and my kitchen tastes–we excitedly embark on food adventures together.

So, now that I’ve shared a little about my entrance into the world of food, I’ll get on to the good part: cupcakes! I don’t normally get excited about “cute” food, so when I found the image of the christmas lights made out of candy (IT WASN’T PINTEREST I SWEAR), I was a little surprised at how quickly it went in my bookmark folder. I suppose I liked it both because of my fluctuating hormones and the fact that they’d be going to a family christmas party. Anyways, they DID turn out adorable AND delicious. Mission accomplished. What’s even better is that there were several gluten-free party guests, including an adorable toddler, who were all excited that there was a dessert they could enjoy. Even better! Hope you enjoy these as well.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup dark cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup sugar (or substitute 1/2-3/4 cup agave nectar)

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup chocolate almond milk (or any milk product of your choosing, warmed slightly)

3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 large egg

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients thoroughly.

Warm the chocolate milk and coconut oil gently on the stove.

Then, in a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients so that the egg is lightly beaten.

Combine dry and wet ingredients using an electric mixer until smooth.

Fold in chocolate chips. Using a cookie scoop, fill each cupcake liner half way*.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick emerges from clean from the center of the cupcake.

Let cool entirely before frosting.

*For my first batch, I filled them too high (this is a matter of style, of course) and they came out beautiful and puffy and tall. It was awesome, but not practical if you want lots of cupcakes. Still, I made a double batch of batter and somehow ended up with 36 cupcakes. It was kind of exciting.


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 stick of butter at room temperature

splash of milk (of your choosing, not flavored)

1 tsp peppermint extract

Cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add in the powdered sugar and a little milk (enough just to make it luscious) and blend until smooth. Add in the peppermint extract and beat until incorporated.


1 bag Mike & Ike candies (if you can get the holiday themed bag, there’s only red and green candies, which is a plus)

1 bag almond M&Ms

1 tube green decorating icing (or homemade–I didn’t have enough frosting to do this but did have a tube ready in case that happened. If you want homemade on top, just add some green food coloring to the frosting. Tape one corner of a ziploc bag so the seam doesn’t bust while you’re creating a masterpiece. Fill the bag part of the way with frosting. Cut a very small tip off of the taped corner of the bag and bam! Homemade disposable pastry bag.)

Cut the green Mike & Ikes in half and attach each half to the bottom of an M&M. When you place them on the cupcakes, make sure the M is facing down. Use the green frosting to draw lines of “wiring.” If you’re feeling ambitious, you can “connect” them across the cupcakes (see below).

I better find an extension cord…

I thought about filling the center of these cupcakes with creamy peppermint chocolate, but I didn’t have enough time to be that ambitious, so I thought the chocolate chips would do. And they did.

This little card was on display at the holiday party

Send photos of your favorite holiday baked goods! I’ll be back soon with more, not all of which will be appealing only to your sweet tooth.


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