Learning > Recipes

Gluten-free almond cakes are an elegant alternative to iced cupcakes

Melissa Clark on 03 Feb 2017

The Straits Times


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It’s rare to see a naked cupcake.


Most are crowned with billows of frosting: The higher the peaks, the more crowd-pleasing the result.


To make a cupcake without any gilding, drizzling or sugary swirling on top takes guts. It also takes a plan — how do you compete with all that opulent fluff when you’re in a more minimalist frame of mind?


Now, I have nothing against frosting. It’s just that not every cupcake needs it. There is a case to be made for a cupcake in which the cake itself is so tender and buttery that adding frosting would be overkill.




  • ⅓ cup (80mls) heavy cream (optional)
  • 85g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (optional)
  • 6 Tbsps (85g) melted unsalted butter, cooled, plus more for muffin tin
  • ¾ cup (85g) almond flour or meal
  • ¾ cup (94g) confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • Few drops almond extract (optional)
  • 3 Tbsps (24g) cornstarch
  • 1 ¼ tsp (4g) baking powder
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 Tbsps (25g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (60mls) cherry jam (optional)



1) Make the chocolate ganache, if using: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat cream until bubbling (or place the cream in a glass measuring cup and heat it in the microwave). Remove from heat, add chocolate and let sit for 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Transfer chocolate to a small container (preferably metal) and freeze until firm, at least 30 minutes.


2) Scoop and roll into 2cm balls. Note that the ganache is very soft and can be messy to handle, but getting perfectly round balls isn’t necessary. Place in refrigerator until needed. Ganache balls can be prepared up to 1 week ahead.


3) Heat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Butter a muffin tin.


4) Using a food processor or blender, mix almond flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt until powdery, about 30 seconds. Add eggs and almond extract and process until smooth, 30 seconds longer. Pulse in butter, cornstarch and baking powder. Scrape mixture into a large bowl.


5) Using a beater or an electric mixer, whip egg whites until very foamy. Gradually add granulated sugar while beating eggs until stiff peaks form.


6) Using a spatula, gently and carefully fold a third of the egg whites into almond mixture to lighten it. Then, fold in the rest of the whites just until no streaks remain.


7) Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Pull balls of ganache from refrigerator, if using, and place 1 ball in center of each cake, pushing it down halfway into batter. Or spoon 1 teaspoon cherry jam on top of each cake; do not push down. Return to oven and bake until light brown and a toothpick inserted into cake (and not the chocolate or cherry) comes out clean, another 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably within eight hours of baking.


Yield: 12 cupcakes

Total time: 50 minutes, plus chilling


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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