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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gluten-Free Boston Cream Cupcakes

My friend Dana, who is gluten intolerant, had a birthday picnic last month.  So, I decided to bake some gluten-free treats that turned out rather well, so I thought I’d share them: gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, and gluten free Boston Cream Cupcakes.

Unlike the cookies, which were from scratch, I decided to try the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix as a base for the cupcakes.  I hit upon the idea of Boston Cream cupcakes because I had read mixed reviews of the BC boxed mix, so I wanted to be able to dress up the cupcakes a bit, just in case.  And, happily, I discovered that both Jell-o instant pudding mixes and BC tub frostings are gluten-free, which took a lot of guesswork out of the filling and frosting.  Jell-o pudding mixes list “modified food starch” under the ingredients, and this is corn starch unless otherwise stated, Kraft is very diligent about listing allergens.  This opens up a ton of possibilities for flavors and fillings. Obviously, if someone is also casein intolerant, other arrangements for fillings would have to be made. I’m definitely not an expert on non-dairy fillings, but I’ve heard (although I haven’t tried it for myself) that the non-instant pudding works better with soy and almond milk than the instant.

Before trying the cupcakes, I searched around to find other people who had already tried the mix, to see if anyone had tweaked the box directions to get a better result, and I hit upon a fabulous resource, A Gluten-Free Guide, which has all manner of gluten-free info, recipes, restaurant lists, food reviews, etc. On this site was posted a review of the BC gluten-free yellow cake box mix, along with tweaks that the author said vastly improved the cupcakes’ taste and texture (backed up by reviews posted on the site). It called for adding, amongst other things, instant pudding and orange juice directly to the mix. So, I decided to give it a try, and they turned out better than I had even hoped.  However, and I can not stress this enough, pudding flavor does make a difference in taste, and if you can find it, I definitely recommend the French Vanilla pudding over the regular vanilla, for both the cake and the filling.

You are basically ignoring the directions on the cake mix package, and following the instructions below, as suggested by A Gluten-Free Guide. This recipe yields anywhere from 16-22 cupcakes, depending on how high you fill the liners:



  • 1 box BC Gluten-free cupcakes, yellow
  • 1 pkg Jell-o instant French Vanilla Pudding
  • 1/3 C granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs plus 1 egg white
  • ½ C vegetable oil
  • ¾ C no pulp OJ
  • 1 tbls vanilla


  • 1 pkg Jell-o instant French Vanilla pudding
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • ½ C milk

  • Betty Crocker chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate frosting in a tub

Directions for cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients  and   beat   on  medium speed until completely combined
  3. Line  a muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Fill 2/3 of the way full.
  4. Bake for about 23-25 minutes, until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  (this will depend on how high you fill the liners, so keep an eye on them and look for that golden color.
  5. Cool on rack until completely cooled. The cupcakes can be made the day before and stored, covered (once they cool, you don’t want condensation) overnight at room temp, and filled the morning you intend to serve them.

Directions for filling

  1. Combine Jell-o, heavy cream, and milk in a bowl. 
  2. Beat on high, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. I typically do this with a hand mixer, but you can also do this with the whisk attachment of a stand mixer. Beat until mixture is thick and holds semi.stiff peaks.  Don’t beat until it starts to separate, unless you want some French Vanilla-flavored butter.
  3. Put the pudding in a plastic ziplock bag with one corner snipped off. This is going to be an easy pastry bag that can be just thrown away when you are done.

Directions for Assembling:

It is hard to see, but that piece is cone-shaped
  1. Taking a knife, gently cut into the cupcake at an angle, about 2/3 of the way into the cupcake, and cut all the way around the cupcake to remove a cone-shaped piece. 
  2. Cut off the point of the cone piece, leaving a cake lid that can be put back over the hole you just made. This lid should be no more than ½” thick, the thinner, the better.
  3. Then, using your pastry bag filled with the pudding, fill the hole in the cupcake almost to the top, and then press you cake “lid” down over the filling. As you can see from the picture, I over-filled many of my cupcakes, ideally the lid should be flush with the rest of the surface of the cupcake.
  4. Take the tub of chocolate frosting, remove the cover and foil, and microwave in the container for 10-15 seconds, until it is slightly liquidy and runs off of a spoon. Spoon the frosting over each cupcake and let it set
  5. Store in the fridge.

Filled and hopefully flush with the surface

I have to say, that even without the cream filling, these cupcakes were quite tasty plain, and had a texture close to what you would expect from wheat-containing cupcakes. So close, in fact, that I don’t know if one would be able to tell the difference between them if they weren’t really looking for it.

Frosted! And upside down. I don't know why, but I can't seem to fix it!
 These plain cupcakes could serve as the base for any number of filling/frosting combinations. The cupcakes could be filled in the way that I demonstrated here, which I recommend for a thicker filling, or they could be filled Hostess Cupcake-style with a metal pastry tip inserted into the top for thinner fillings. I think these cupcakes would be delicious with a fruit jam filling inserted (raspberry or strawberry), and then a vanilla icing on top. And, it goes without saying that the filling and assembly methods here can also be used to make Boston Cream cupcakes out of the BC gluten-containing boxed mixes.

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