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Spiced Up Chocolate Cupcakes


I cheated. I admit it.

There are just some times in life when one thing after another happens, when people are pulling at you from all directions, when you don’t have a minute to do all the things you need to do—let alone all the things you want to do. That’s when you say, “What the hell!”

Yep, people. That’s when it happens. That’s when you cut corners.

Wait a minute. I have some pretty good excuses. 1) My stove  exploded—not literally, but almost literally…well, my husband exploded some kind of experiment all over it. Two burners…totally fried. I didn’t even kill or maim him. 2) My refrigerator is so tired it’s coughing air just cold enough to keep it from being called a heater. The vegetable drawer, on the other hand, will freeze a tray of ice cubes in 10 minutes flat. And, 3) The dishwasher. Oh, the dishwasher. It wants to burn my house down. Yeah, that’s right. I can only run it when I’ve got time to sit there and make sure it runs through all the cycles and doesn’t skip the water spraying part.

Needless to say my kitchen is not a happy place. And, work is keeping me pretty busy. My life is a food blogger’s nightmare—no time and a dysfunctional kitchen.

That’s why I did it. That’s why I used a cake mix for this recipe. That’s it, right out in the open. I cheated. I cut a few corners. And, I’m not sorry I did. Thank you, Gluten-Free Betty Crocker. 

I didn’t exactly make the cake as directed on the box. I spiced it up a bit. I’m hoping that redeems me in your eyes.

My Aunt Rose’s Italian chocolate spice cookies inspired me. If you’re Italian you may have an Aunt Rose (we almost all do!) and maybe your Aunt Rose baked these cookies around the holidays. They’re like a dry chocolate rock with a drizzle of confectioners’ sugar glaze topped by a sprinkle of colored jimmies. They’re more than chocolate cookies though. They’ve got spices—cinnamon, cloves, maybe nutmeg—in them.

These cupcakes are not dry chocolate rocks…they’re light and airy. They’re chocolate with a hint of spice topped with cinnamon glaze. They’re what I imagine Aunt Rose would bake if she made cupcakes—which she didn’t. These are grown up cupcakes for the big kid in all of us.

Many thanks to the Gluten-Free Goddess for linking to TSP’s Spiced Up Chocolate Cupcakes on her Gluten-Free Brownie Cupcakes post!


Spiced Up Chocolate Cupcakes


1 box (15 oz) Betty Crocker® Gluten Free Devil’s Food Cake Mix

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch cayenne pepper (more or less/optional)

¾ cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 flax eggs

½ cup Earth Balance® Natural Buttery Spread, softened

½ cup So Delicious® Coconut Milk Yogurt



½ cup confectioners’ sugar

2 or 3 teaspoons rice (or other non-dairy) milk

¼ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Colored or chocolate jimmies or sprinkles


Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the flax eggs: whisk 2 tablespoons ground flax with 6 tablespoons warm water. Set aside.

Place the cake mix, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper into the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk together.  

Add the remaining ingredients—water, vanilla, flax eggs, Earth Balance, and coconut milk yogurt. Mix with a regular beater (not a whisk attachment) on low until just mixed. Scrape down the bowl and then mix on medium speed for two minutes.

Line a cupcake pan with liners and fill each 2/3 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once the cupcakes are cool enough to handle remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling make the glaze. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar & cinnamon together. Add the vanilla and then whisk in the rice milk a teaspoonful at a time until you have a thick glaze.

When the cupcakes are cool drizzle the glaze over top and sprinkle with the jimmies.

Note: I used plain coconut yogurt. If you decide to use vanilla coconut yogurt you may want to omit the vanilla extract from the recipe.


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Reader Comments (14)

Oooh, yummy, and so pretty! I didn't realize that Betty Crocker had gluten-free vegan cake mixes. Thanks so much for sharing! And I love So Delicious coconut milk yogurt! I cannot wait to make this recipe.

Apr 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDina

Sometimes, when the cupcake craving hits, you've just gotta do what you've gotta do :P Hope the kitchen nightmare calms down soon - I know a bit what you're going through, having moved into a house-sitting gig and discovered the microwave and oven both don't work (or the vacuum cleaner, but I wouldn't use that for eating anyway)...

Apr 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

Dina - Betty Crocker has gluten-free cake mixes. I just changed up the non-vegan additions to make this recipe. I read the ingredients on the box and it seems like the mix is vegan friendly but I'll let you decide on that. I'll be making this again this weekend for my son and his girlfriend. Hope you enjoy them as much as my husband did!

Hannah - LOL. I do have someone coming to stay at my house for a few days and it'll be fascinating when I tell her what does and doesn't work! Oh boy. Now I've got to get myself out there and get some new appliances. Never a dull moment.

Apr 23, 2010 | Registered CommenterNancy Kohler

To mix or not to mix. Thing is, I bet no one in a taste test would be able to tell the difference. Looks delicious! Send some over, please. xox

Apr 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKarina

Karina - There are a few winging their way cross country now. Enjoy! -Nancy

Apr 25, 2010 | Registered CommenterNancy Kohler

Nancy, you are quite the entertaining writer. What talent! All I have to say is GOOD FOR YOU! And because you tried it, I am going to try it. I may even leave the honey and stevia on the shelf and make your confectioner's sugar glaze! Ha! (I have not had refined sugar since September so if I am MIA, you'll know I am in a sugar coma). Great post and beautiful picture!

Apr 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlexa

Alexa - I like that we can get creative even with something as simple as a box cake. Also, that BC GF cakes can be successfully made Vegan. So, no need to go into a sugar coma--just take your favorite reduced or non-sugar chocolate cake recipe and spice it up! -Nancy

PS - Many thanks for the compliment!

Apr 27, 2010 | Registered CommenterNancy Kohler

Hey Nancy how are you?

These cakes look really amazing. I always have a soft spot of icing and sprinkles cakes always draw me in with this topping. :) Those cake cases look great too I really like those. Loved you're chocolate loaf too yum yum. :)

Apr 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeena

Jeena - Hi! The sprinkles are fun and brighten things up a bit. The cases are actually candy cups I found in a candy supply store. They held up very well and the cupcake just pops right out. -Nancy

Apr 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterNancy Kohler

I love it how you pimped up your cake mix! Great idea. Love the spices you used. I think chocolate and spices work so well togheter.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend ahead.
*kisses* HH

Apr 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeavenly Housewife

I've got to tell you, those cupcakes look spectacular to me! It's funny how so many people think mixes are "cheating." When I was a kid, my dad vetoed anything that wasn't homemade, so if my mother ever used a mix for one of our birthday cakes, it was a huge treat. I'm pretty sure I'd still love it!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRicki

These chocolate cupcakes look the BEST!! They look so appetizing!!

I so much love your unique food blog!

Many greetings from a fellow foodie who is living GF since mid june 2010 from Brussels, Belgium!

Aug 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSophie

Can eggs be used instead of flax eggs? I'm in a tiny college town and don't have access to flax seeds (let alone a way to grind them), unfortunately!

Jena, I think real eggs would work just fine. Let me know how it goes. -Nancy

Apr 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJena

Thanks for sharing this recipe! I have recently discovered some new allergies to gluten,dairy, and eggs... so I'm a beginner at baking without those ingredients. This was a great recipe! I definitely wouldn't have known that they were vegan by tasting them.

Jessica -- that's great! Glad you liked them.

May 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
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