Today I am going for simplicity. Sometimes you might just want to make a delicious sweet treat without having to dress it up (we are saving fancier decorative stuff for another occasion). Enter…. my simple, gluten-free, vegan chocolate cupcakes.

We are talking light – incredibly light – sort of melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness here, naturally sweetened with maple syrup and banana (yes!).

The ‘chocolate-ness’ is achieved from cacao (or cocoa) powder and a lil’ bit of homemade chocolate cut up into tiny chocolate chip-sized pieces.

Buying an ethical brand of cacao

When buying cocoa powder it’s pretty important to buy a more ethical brand (don’t get me started on the ethics of cacao/chocolate production). Just be sure that you look for the fair-trade brand and/or buy organic varieties.

It doesn’t matter if you buy ‘cacao’ powder (which is the raw form) or ‘cocoa’ powder… as long as cacao/cocoa is the only ingredient in the packet. I have often heard that in some countries (I am guessing the USA) ‘cocoa powder’ contains all sorts of other ingredients like sugar (why oh why, I ask!). Just get the plain stuff.

If you buy an ethical and organic brand then they are much less likely to have been produced with harsh chemicals too (like the bigger commercial brands often do). It’s easy to find good organic cocoa powder in a health food shop or online.

Gluten-free vegan chocolate cupcakes by Anastasia

The cake-making process in this recipe involves two main parts

The first part is to blend all the wet ingredients together (including bananas). I am using a banana (to gently sweeten), which doesn’t really impart a banana flavour, but as well as a gentle sweetness it rather acts with the other wet ingredients to help bind everything together.

If your coconut oil is solid (it solidifies at about 24C/76F and under). Simply melt it by popping your coconut oil jar into some hot water (or leave it on a sunny windowsill ahead of time).

Dry ingredients for gluten-free vegan chocolate cupcakes

You’ll also need to mix the dry ingredients together. I don’t bother with sifting the flours or powder (perhaps I am just a lazy chef in some ways lol!). I simply mix together with a metal spoon and press out any lumps from the flour or cocoa powder with the back of the spoon.

Then you add the wet to the dry and mix together thoroughly.

A delightful culinary alchemy then happens, which rapidly creates a nice, thick ‘batter’ (that you can pretty much stand your spoon upright in). Magic!

I like to add a few chunks of my homemade healthy vegan chocolate to the dry mix too. I chop it up into chocolate chip-sized pieces.

Check out my page here for a quick guide to making your own chocolate at home:

Alternatively, just use a bar of your fave chocolate instead.

Pop ’em in the oven

When you have the mixture in the cupcake cases, you will need to pop them onto the top or middle shelf of a pre-heated oven for about 18 minutes. The temperature you require is gas mark 5 (which translates to 190C or 375F).

Once done, allow them to cool for a few minutes in the cupcake tray and then transfer each one individually to a cooling rack.

They are best enjoyed on the same day, once cool, but also freeze well.

Gluten-free vegan chocolate cupcakes by Anastasia

Gluten-free vegan chocolate cupcakes

Gluten-free vegan chocolate cupcakes

Simple Gluten-free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes

An easy gluten-free vegan cupcake sweetened naturally with maple syrup and a banana. Delicious and also freezes fine too.


Wet ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized banana
  • 100ml maple syrup
  • 100ml water
  • 100ml coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dry ingredients

  • 2 heaped tablespoons (chopped) homemade vegan chocolate
  • 100g rice flour
  • 50g tapioca flour (or tapioca starch)
  • 50g cocoa powder (or cacao powder)
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda


  1. Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 5 (190C/375F).
  2. Prepare a cupcake tin with space for 12 cupcakes and pop a cupcake case into each one.
  3. Blend all the wet ingredients together with a hand blender. Be sure to melt the coconut oil first if it needs to be melted by placing on a warm windowsill ahead of time or popping into a pan with hot water.
  4. Chop up your homemade chocolate into small chips.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients together and press out any lumps and then add your chopped chocolate.
  6. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together. This should quickly turn into a thick batter.
  7. Evenly distribute the batter (I find this easiest using two teaspoons) into the cupcake cases.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 18 minutes (more or less depending on your oven).
  9. When done take out and allow to cool for a few minutes in the tin, before moving over each one to a cooling rack.
  10. Enjoy the same day when cool. Store at normal room temperature (if you want to put them in the fridge then be aware that the will go quite firm and are best served at room temperature). Keep in a sealed container. They keep for a couple of days. They also freeze nicely.
  11. Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

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Gluten-free vegan chocolate cupcakes - easy and naturally sweetened