Cherry Garcia cupcakes: Chocolate chip cupcakes with cherry frosting {gluten-free}


Cherry Garcia Cupcakes

Before you start screaming that I’m a month late and it’s not cherry season anymore, just hear me out. Rather than juicy summer berries, these cupcakes get their tart cherry flavor from freeze-dried cherries folded into the frosting – available all year round! I picked up this freeze-dried berry frosting trick from my friend Maryanne (The Little Epicurean) – it’s her smart way of infusing intense berry flavor into frosting without ending up with drippy soft icing that won’t hold its shape.

(At the end of this post, sign up to win a prize pack of these dainty decorative cupcake liners!)

Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting

So there you go – now you can have these Cherry Garcia cupcakes in the middle of September. Which is a good thing because there’s absolutely no way I could hold onto this recipe until next July. That’d just be cruel. If you rush out now, you might even find a few end-of-the-season black cherries to plop on top for decoration.

Black cherriesChocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cherry FrostingChocolate Chip Cupcakes

Okay, now that we’ve moved past that hurdle, let’s talk about the cupcake I want to eat for the rest of my life. The cupcake I want served at my funeral (someone please take note – there better be chocolate chip cupcakes at my funeral). This chocolate chip cupcake is the real deal – the star of the show, with the cherry cream cheese frosting as its trusty sidekick.

Imagine a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie in the form of a moist fluffy cupcake. A vanilla cupcake with a light crumb filled with pockets of melty chocolate chunks – all topped with a dollop of cherry cream cheese frosting to give it a refined tart flair.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

On this episode of kids say the darndest things:

As most neighbors of food bloggers will probably confirm, they get a constant stream of homemade desserts to sample. More like: I pawn off sweets on my next-door neighbors to keep myself from hiding one cupcake after another in my bottomless dessert belly. There’s a house for sale on our corner – they really should list “free desserts” as a selling point.

When the three-year old answers the door, my plate of dessert is always met with wide eyes and bright smiles as she quietly asks what I’ve brought and why, pretending she’s oh-so shy. Don’t let that coy smile fool you though – she once uttered the words, “Mom, I’m shy” before fearlessly insisting I join her for a dance party in her room.

While Lucas and his coworkers went ga-ga for the chocolate chip & tart cherry union, this pint-sized “shy” budding food critic stopped by a week after I’d brought over a half-dozen of these Cherry Garcia cupcakes to very matter-of-factly announce “usually I like the frosting best, but I did NOT like this frosting.” Noted.

This is a cupcake for grown-up taste buds – it will probably go over about as well as coconut-covered carrot cake at a child’s birthday party.


Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes

To dress them up all fancy-la, Bella Cupcake Couture sent me some of their soft purple cupcake sleeves. Now they’re fit for a dainty tea party.

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Cherry garcia cupcakes: Chocolate chip cupcakes with cherry cream cheese frosting
Yields: 12 cupcakes
Chocolate chip cupcakes
  • ⅓ cup white rice flour
  • ⅓ cup oat flour
  • ⅓ cup millet flour
  • ¼ cup sweet rice flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons dark chocolate chips, chopped
Cherry cream cheese frosting (adapted from The Little Epicurean)
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons ground freeze-dried cherries, sifted
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the rice flour, oat flour, millet flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar over medium speed.
  4. With the mixer on low-speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each one.
  5. Add the vanilla extract, mixing until just combined.
  6. Keeping the speed on low, slowly add the dry ingredients in two batches, adding the milk in between, mixing until just combined.
  7. Fold in the chopped chocolate chips until evenly distributed throughout.
  8. Divide the batter among 12 lined cupcake cups, until about ¾ full.
  9. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
  10. While the cupcakes bake, prepare the frosting.
  11. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.
  12. Once the cupcakes are cool, pipe cherry frosting on top and serve.
Cherry cream cheese frosting
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter over medium speed.
  2. Add the cream cheese and whip until combined.
  3. Add the powdered sugar, in thirds, mixing on slow speed until combined.
  4. Add the vanilla and ground freeze-dried cherries, and beat on medium speed until smooth.
  5. Transfer to a pastry bag to pipe onto cupcakes, or spread directly on cupcakes with a knife.
*For non gluten-free version, you can use 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour in place of the rice flour, oat flour, millet flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca starch, and xanthan gum.

Bella Cupcake Couture Giveaway

The kind folks at Bella Cupcake Couture have offered to give one lucky Snixy Kitchen reader a variety gift pack of $25 worth of Bella Cupcake Couture cupcake wrappers to dress their cupcakes up.

This giveaway is now closed.

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Disclosure: Bella Cupcake Couture is providing the prize pack for one reader. I received the same cupcake wrappers to try out.  As always, the opinions expressed here are 100% my own. 

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  1. Tyler says:

    These look amazing. My favorite cupcake flavor is chocolate bacon :)

  2. These cupcakes look absolutely amazing!

  3. Dee says:

    Absolutely, positively chocolate!

  4. Mira says:

    Cherry season – almost over, but thanks to you I’m saving and definitely trying this cherry cupcake recipe very soon. I love that they are gluten free! They look beautiful, and the cupcake sleeves are very cute.

  5. So I’d like to move next door to you then …

    • You mentioned you were considering moving out of the city, didn’t you? (Or did I make that up?) Well anyway, you should definitely come be my neighbor. I’ll feed you cupcakes and you can help me work it off;)

  6. I was! I was like – wait. wasn’t cherry season like a month ago?! silly Sarah. and then I read on and I only wanted to be your neighbor for even more reasons than I already did. there was a lot of emotions. but what I really came to say was – white cake with raspberry chambord filling. aka our wedding cake.

  7. Oh I do not care that it is not cherry season anymore. Give me these cupcakes any time of the year and I’ll be happy! They look amazing, Sarah!

  8. I’m super boring and always go vanilla and chocolate as my fav [with carrot cake runner up!] haha – these look phenomenal! I have to buy buckets of Cherry Garcia for my husband and he would flip over these!

  9. LEMON cupcakes! With cream cheese frosting! (YUM.)

    (P.S. I’m not THAT far away… ;))

  10. Alyssa says:

    LOL! I love how honest kids are. You can’t please everyone! I think they sound amazing though, and I want to be your neighbor.

  11. How amazingly delicious are these cupcakes.. definitely craving a bite of one right now! My favourite cupcake flavour would have to be red velvet with a thick cream cheese icing..

  12. You are one step ahead. You know everybody is going to say “but the cherries are out of season”.

    These are sooo cutesy-poo. Too pretty to eat.

  13. Love the idea of using freeze-dried fruit in frosting. Brilliant! Your cupcakes look and sound delicious!

  14. These cupcakes are gorgeous Sarah! I love the pretty color of the frosting! Cherry season or not, I’d love these all year round :)

  15. I would love to move next door! Now, seriously, these cupcakes are just perfection. Have to try them!

  16. Diane says:

    These are the most delicious looking cupcakes I have ever seen in my life.

  17. Angela says:

    Favorite cupcake flavor is carrot! :)

  18. My favorite cupcake flavor is…either carrot cake or anything chocolate-based (duh) ;)

  19. Justin says:

    Do muffins count… I like banana nut muffins. Do they come in cupcake form – Annie will eat the frosting.

  20. These cupcakes are beautiful and I love the freeze dried cherry frosting idea! Genius! Plus, I love that you made them gluten-free. Now that’s an awesome bonus!

  21. Amanda says:

    Thanks for liking a pic on my insta! Just discovered your page and love your photos.

  22. Gorgeous pictures! I love the cherry chocolate combination!

  23. bob says:

    VANILLA FROSTING 4LIFE #simplethings

  24. Maybe this is why I’m fat… I don’t bring sweets over to neighbors. We eat them all here. Oops. Hahahahaa… these cupcakes are stunning Sarah! Like, seriously. Normally I’m a big red velvet fan… but these might just take the cake (get it?) for my fave!

  25. Min says:

    Aww I want to have a “shy” 3 year old who knocks at my door and invites me to a private dance party! I probably won’t have much to offer as I haven’t been baking much as of late. Can I be that neighbor that pays you a visit daily or am I too old for that? You can NEVER be too old, right? ;). I don’t think I’ve ever tried gf cupcakes so def pinning this recipe! Hope your week is off to a wonderful start, my sweet dear friend!

  26. Linda K. says:

    I like a rich dark dark dark chocolate cupcake. Another one not really for the kids…

  27. These look amazing! Chocolate and cherry is the best and these have officially made me hungry:)

  28. I love the idea of infused frostings! Oh the possibilities! The cupcake liners are lovely!

  29. Karen Matlock says:

    My favorite combinations are; cherry and chocolate and orange and chocolate :)

  30. Kristen says:

    My favorite is strawberry.

  31. Sarah says:

    Wow, these cupcakes are beautiful! And perfect in their matching polka dot wrappers.

  32. Maggie says:

    I just came across this excellent recipe and wondered if it is possible to make the icing with fresh cherries? The freeze-dried version is not available where I live.

  33. Gorgeous pictures. I made these cherry chocolate chip cupcakes for the super bowl party and it was a crowd favorite. I’m also gonna pin this post on my Pinterest board my followers will love it. Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

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