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Drunken (and gluten free) Snowflake Cupcakes

January 3, 2010
Merry & Drunken Snowflake Cupcake

This is my very favorite gluten-free recipe that I have tried.  These are delicious and if you are interested in making the move to gluten-free they are the perfect place to start.  You will love these and you will make them again and again, even if you aren’t particularly interested in a fully gluten-free diet.  Give it a whirl.  It’s worth it.  Totally worth it!

So here’s my friend, Lisa and her magnificent, Drunken Snowflake Cupcakes!

Today, Lulu and Phoebe bring you fabulously delicious gluten free (but drunken) snowflake cupcakes.  There is something kid-like in all of us that loves frosted cupcakes.  They are a guilt free way to eat an entire cake, even if the cake is only a few inches big. 

 This is another in the list of holiday goodies that we’ve turned into a gluten free treat.   There should be no Celiac left behind at holiday face stuffing time!  Everyone can eat these treats.  No one will guess they are gluten free.

 This recipe makes about 14 large cupcakes or 18 small ones depending on your cupcake pan.  You should feel free to use lots of liquors in this recipe.  It only makes them tastier.  And feel free to change the topping.  We like large flakes of coconut with a cherry on top just because it looks like  festive snowflakes and tastes good.  Some people might like sprinkles or other things, nuts, colored sugar  that can be used as toppings.  The method for getting the toppings on the cupcake is the same no matter what you use.

 Be patient.  While it takes no time at all to bake, cool, and brush them, you must wait patiently for the tops to dry, and um, sober up before frosting.  These are probably an all day or overnight affair because of the waiting time.   You can bake and brush and leave them for later or the next day.  Of course, one or two without frosting can be sacrificed right away if you cannot wait.

 Lulu and Phoebe’s Fabulous Gluten Free Merry & Drunken Snowflake Cupcakes

  • 2 cupcake pans and paper liners.
  • Mixing bowl and hand held mixer, or mixer stand. 
  • Measuring cups. 
  • Large mesh strainer for sifting sugar. 
  • Whisk attachment for the stand mixer for the icing or hand held mixer.
  • Pastry brush.  
  • Extra bowl for the flour mixture and then the sifted sugar. 
  • Icing spatula or spoon for applying icing. 
  • Bowl for the topping.




cupcake cast of characters


  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • ½ cup (one stick) room temp European unsalted butter (for best results)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 and ¼ cup of sweet rice flour
  • ¾ cup rice flour mix
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (gluten free)
  • ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 very large teaspoon of Godiva liquor or another favorite
  • 1 8oz. container crème fraiche

 Cupcake Brushing or Liquid Lunch

brushing up on the liquors
  • ¾ cup of water heated with tablespoon of sugar (you can nuke it)
  • 3 additional tablespoons of your favorite liquors (kaluha, crème de cacao, frangelico)


icing cast of characters
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter softened (not melted, just really soft)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • A touch of vanilla
  • Liquors like frangelico, Godiva, crème de cacao, cassis, cherry kirsch, rum
  • large flaked coconut mixed with grated coconut for topping
  • cherries with stems  (brandied cherries are great)



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Get cupcake tins lined with paper liners.

paper lined cupcake tins

 In a separate bowl, mix flours, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder together with a whisk to incorporate and lighten.  Mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using a high speed.   On a lower speed, add eggs, one at a time until incorporated.  Add vanilla and other flavorings.  Alternate mixing in on low speed the crème fraiche and the flour mix.  One totally mixed turn off the mixer –don’t over mix or the batter will be tough.

 Pour or spoon into the cupcake liners and fill about ¾ of the way.  Slap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles (see photo).  Bake in the center of the oven and switch pans half way through and rotate front to back.   It takes about 20 to 24 minutes to bake.   They will not get very brown, but will get slightly golden.  When a toothpick inserted in the center of the center cupcake comes out clean they are done.  Start checking at 18 minutes for best results and don’t over bake!

ready to bake


  Let the cupcakes cool in the pan until you can move them to rack (see photo).

perfectly done but without a tan


  Brushing with Liquid Lunch

Heat the ¾ cup of water and tablespoon of sugar on high in the microwave for about 40 seconds or until the water is warm and sugar is totally dissolved.   Add the liquors of your choice, about a tablespoon of each.  I use Godiva, Frangelico, and a Cherry Kirsch.  Rum, or Kaluha or Orange liquors are good too  (see photo).

drinks are on the house


  When completely mixed together take a pastry brush and brush each cupcake generously once or twice around.  The tops will seem wet but not soaked.  Do not let those cupcakes drive until they are sober (see photo).

getting sloshed


  Leave them alone on the rack until the tops are almost completely dry.  It takes a few hours on a cold day and a little less on a warm day.

drying out



First, sift the powdered sugar into a separate bowl and set aside.  Sifting lightens the sugar and gets out all the lumps that are hideous in frosting so don’t skip sifting (see photo)!

sifting the powdered sugar

 Using the whip attachment on a stand mixer, or a hand mixer, whip the butter until it turns very pale yellow and is light and very fluffy.  Add in the sugar a little at a time on low speed (or you will have powdered stuff all over the kitchen) and once it is all incorporated, add the liquids until the consistency looks like stiff frosting.  Start with the vanilla and move your way to the liquors.  Remember to pick them by smell and taste and make sure they go together.   Once incorporated turn the mixer on high and let it whip away for almost five minutes.  That creates that light buttercream frosting that everyone loves to eat off the spoon.

Now you are ready to frost and finish.  Oh, and eat.

 Frosting and Finishing with Toppings

Some people are handy with a piping bag.  Go for it.  I am not, so I use a tiny spatula and apply a giant gob of frosting to the cupcake and mound it up so the center is higher (see photo).  Make sure you get all the way to the edges.

frosting, coconut and cherries, cupcakes

 Have your topping prepared and ready in a large flat bowl.  Turn your frosted cupcake gently upside down into the topping bowl and again, gently swirl to coat the frosting (see photo).

dunked in snowflakes (coconut)


  Turn it right side up and add a garnish like the cherry, or a piece of chocolate or whatever makes you happy  (see photo).

drunken snowflakes resting


Voila!  Temptation cupcake on temptation plate!


  Gluten Free Notes:

Brushing the cakes with the sugar water/liquor make them taste fabulous, and many high quality bakery cakes start out this way.  It also helps when you bake Gluten Free cakes because they tend to become dry quickly.  This remedies that dilemma.

Gluten Free cupcakes do not brown.  I can’t emphasize not over baking.  Over baked cupcakes are like rocks.  Also, can’t over emphasize to not over mix either.  They can come out dense and a bit tough.  

Important to let the brushing liquid soak in and dry on the top otherwise the cupcake will be wet when you apply the frosting and get mushy.  You should be able to touch the top and not have your finger stick to it.  That is dry enough.

Frost gently – the cupcake is still cake and you can knock its head off.   And be sure to make certain it has a rise in the center for the best look.  The frosting will dry eventually so work relatively quickly to frost them all at one sitting.  Don’t leave it and come back.

They last for about 4 days if stored in a tin.  In plastic they last about 3 days.  If you refrigerate them, let them come to room temp before serving.

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