Gluten Free Cherry Heart Cupcakes Recipe

by Carol Kicinski on February 13, 2011

Post image for Gluten Free Cherry Heart Cupcakes Recipe I wanted to create a special cupcake for Valentine’s Day this year. I thought about making a more romantic version of my gluten free Vampire Cupcakes with their bleeding hearts but a bleeding heart signifies hurt and pain to me. I don’t think that real love makes you hurt. (Admittedly a lot of songwriters and movie makers will disagree with me!)

I believe real love lifts the spirit and heals the heart. Real love makes the heart stronger, capable of even more love. So for my Valentine’s Day Cupcakes I decided to place a beautiful, cheery, whole heart in the center of my cupcakes and surround it by sweet, creamy filling. It is the way my hubby makes my heart feel, full and radiating cheer.

I used Kinnikinnick’s gluten-free chocolate cake mix as the base of the cupcakes. Usually I make cupcakes from scratch but I really do like their cake mix and saving a little time makes my heart happy as well. Kinnikinnick’s mix calls for it to be made with oil and water but I upped the richness and flavor by using buttermilk and melted butter instead.

For my “hearts” I used maraschino cherries and for topping and filling I made a cherry cream cheese frosting. And as if all that wasn’t enough I dipped some maraschino cherries in some dark chocolate for a cute little chocolate covered cherry garnish. If my husband isn’t already head over heels in love with me, this is sure to do the trick!

Gluten Free Cupcakes - Chocolate Covered Cherries

First make your garnish – dip maraschino cherries in melted dark chocolate.

Making Gluten Free Cherry Heart Cupcakes

Cut a little inverted cone out of each cupcake.

Making Gluten Free Cherry Heart Cupcakes

Widen the hole a little with the end of a wooden spoon (or your finger).

Making Gluten Free Cherry Heart Cupcakes

Add a little filling…

Making Gluten Free Cherry Heart Cupcakes

top with a cherry…

Making Gluten Free Cherry Heart Cupcakes

then add in a little more filling.  Cut off the end of the cone (this is the baker’s treat)…

Making Gluten Free Cherry Heart Cupcakes

place the top back on flat and frost.  Top with your chocolate covered cherries and enjoy!  A pretty gluten free cupcake with a sweet surprise inside.

Gluten Free Cherry Heart Cupcakes Recipe


Chocolate Covered Cherries

12 maraschino cherries with stems
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips


4 large eggs
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup melted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 package Kinnikinnick Chocolate Cake mix

Frosting and filling

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch kosher or fine sea slat
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
2 cups (maybe a bit more) powdered sugar
12 maraschino cherries without stems


Chocolate Covered Cherries

Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper.

Place the cherries on some paper towels and let them dry. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave until they are almost all melted, about 1 ½ – 2 minutes. Stir the chocolate until it is all melted and glossy. Dip the cherries into the chocolate and place on the prepared baking sheet, pressing down a little to create a flat surface. Refrigerate for ½ an hour or until the chocolate has hardened.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, buttermilk, butter and vanilla on medium speed for 2 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the cake mix. Beat just until combined. Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling almost full. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Frosting and filling

Beat the cream cheese, butter, salt, vanilla and cherry juice together until blended. Sift in 2 cups powdered sugar and mix to combine. If the frosting seems too soft, beat in a little more to stiffen it. The mixture should be a little thicker than heavily whipped cream.

Take about ½ cup of the frosting and put in a plastic food storage bag. Snip off the end of the bag so you can pipe the mixture into the cupcakes. Refrigerate the rest of the frosting until time to finish the cupcakes.


Cut an inverted cone out of the top of each cupcake about the size of a nickel. Remove the cone and save it. With the end of a wooden spoon (or your finger) gently push the hole in the cupcake to widen it. Pipe a little frosting (about 1 teaspoon) into the hole. Place a cherry on the frosting and then pipe in a little more frosting to cover the cherry. Cut the end off the reserved cone and place it back on top of the cupcake to cover the hole. Repeat with remaining cupcakes.

Frost the cupcakes and place a chocolate covered cherry on top of each, gently pressing the cherry into the frosting.

Can be made a day ahead. To store, keep refrigerated but take out of fridge about 10 minutes prior to serving to take the chill off.


This gluten free recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

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Ready for dessert?

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Categories:    Cupcakes
  • federica

    come sempre una super ricetta!!!!!!buonaaaaaaaaa!baci!

    • Carol, Simply Gluten Free

      Federica I wish I could speak Italian! :) I bought some tapes to teach myself and now I had better get busy!

  • Nancy @SensitivePantry

    Carol – these are just beautiful. I love the idea that each cupcake has a heart. A perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day…or any time. The photos are lovely. I especially like the first one. So pretty.

    • Carol, Simply Gluten Free

      Thank you Nancy!

  • Kim-Cook It Allergy Free

    Once again, you amaze me. These look so fabulous! And although I may be all about those Vampire Bleeding Heart Cupcakes come the end of October, these will be just perfect for tomorrow!! I have yet to try the Kinnickinnick Cake mix, but now I must.
    And I just had to tell you that I LOVE that cool page turner for your cookbook. I love the cover too and am so anxious to see it in April!!

    • Carol, Simply Gluten Free

      Thanks Kim! Hope you guys have a great Valentine’s Day!

  • Christine

    Holy Wow do these look delicious! I love how there’s a surprise hiding in the middle of each one.

    • Carol, Simply Gluten Free

      Thanks Christine, I love surprises too!

  • Diane-thewholegang

    These are adorable. I love the cherry in the middle and the chocolate dipped cherry on top. Brilliant.

    • Carol, Simply Gluten Free

      Thanks Diane!

  • InTolerantChef

    I like the surprise filling, makes it very special! The cherry on top is adorable too. It’s great to have a quck and tasty mix available for those busy times.

    • Carol, Simply Gluten Free

      Thank you!

  • Heather @Gluten-Free Cat

    I love how the filling is a complete surprise. The cherry garnish on top is beautiful enough so you wouldn’t expect the extra surprise inside. Love that. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • Pingback: Gluten Free Cherry Heart Cupcakes | CookingPlanet

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