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Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcakes

My birthday is a once a year occasion. Which is sad because the more birthdays I have, the more excuses I would have to bake a cake. The good news here is that I have friends. And all of those friends have birthdays. And the best part is that friends with birthdays challenge me to make cupcakes, cakes and other desserts that I wouldn’t normally make.

gluten-free peanut butter and jelly cupcakes

Like these cupcakes. Peanut butter & jelly cupcakes. I had used the combination in some gluten-free blondies last fall, and thought that was enough exploration of the classic combination. A peanut butter & jelly chocolate at the French Laundry made me certain that I could never live up to something that elevated a childhood classic.

But when my friend/coworker/fellow WordPress geek/the person responsible for my further downfall into nerdiness, Andi, asked for peanut butter and strawberry jelly cupcakes for her work birthday treat, I couldn’t refuse. In fact, I spent a couple of weeks thinking about how I would make it happen. Peanut butter filled vanilla cakes with strawberry frosting? Strawberry cakes with peanut butter frosting? The ways this could have gone… But, I remembered. Joy the Baker had a recipe for Peanut Butter Birthday Cake in her cookbook. And that Joy, she has never steered me wrong.

gluten-free peanut butter & jelly cupcakes from frannycakes

So, I made a gluten-free buttermilk peanut butter cake. I frosted them with a classic American buttercream augmented with some peanut butter. But the crowning jewel? More of Mammacake’s home made strawberry preserves. (I might have used a whole jar…)

piping practice

These cupcakes also happened to be the first chance I had to use my new piping skills from the Wilton BlogHer workshop. I felt pretty accomplished piping buttercream flowers onto the tops of all of those cupcakes.

gluten-free pb&j cupcakes in holder

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcakes
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 24
The cake is adapted to be gluten-free (and cupcakes) from the Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson. The frosting is how my mom taught me to make it when I was a kid. The preserves were stolen when Mammacakes wasn’t looking.
  • for the cake
  • 315 grams (2 1/4 cups) gluten-free all-purpose flour*
  • 1 gram (1 teaspoon) xanthan gum**
  • 10 grams (2 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 3 grams (½ teaspoon) salt
  • 205 grams (3/4 cup) smooth peanut butter
  • 85 grams (6 tablespoons or 3/4 stick) butter, softened
  • 100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
  • 110 grams (½ cup firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (265 ml) buttermilk
  • for the frosting
  • 170 grams (1½ sticks) butter, softened
  • 65-130 grams (1/4-½ cup) smooth peanut butter
  • 675-900 grams (6-8 cups) confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (118 mls) milk
  • pinch of salt
  • filling
  • 1/2 pint jar of your favorite jam or preserves
Make the cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 C). Position one rack in the center and one in the top third of the oven. Line a cupcake tin with papers and grease the tops (just in case)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum (if using), baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the peanut butter, butter, sugar and brown sugar for 3-5 minutes. You want the mixture to be light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute on medium and scraping down the sides of the bowl before each addition.
  5. Add half the flour mixture and mix on low speed and slowly add the buttermilk.
  6. Scrape down the sides and add the rest of the flour mixture until the batter just starts to come together. Remove the bowl from the mixer and finish stirring with a spatula.
  7. Use a spring loaded ice cream scoop or spoon to fill the cupcake papers 1/2-2/3 full.
  8. Place one cupcake tin on each rack and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pans and bake for another 8-12 minutes. You want a toothpick to come out clean and the top of the cakes to bounce back if pressed.
  9. Cool completely on a cooling rack.
Make the frosting
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter, 65 grams (1/4 cup) of the peanut butter, 450 grams (4 cups) of the sugar, the milk and the vanilla.
  2. Beat on medium for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Gradually add the remaining sugar 1 cup (115 grams) at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition.
  4. When the frosting is firm enough to pipe, stop adding sugar and add the salt. If the frosting is too firm or not peanut butter-y enough you can add more peanut butter. I used 1/4 cup and nearly the full amount of powdered sugar. Your results will depend on the humidity, the type of peanut butter and how soft your butter was.
  1. Remove the centers of the cupcakes with a cupcake corer or a paring knife, being sure to leave a little cake at the bottom of your well.
  2. Pipe in the jam or preserves until the well is almost full. Replace the tops of your holes (you will toss some cake, just save the part that is the very top of the removed cake) to keep the jam from making the frosting mushy.
  3. Pipe your frosting on your cupcakes. I made rosettes because I don’t think these need that much frosting, but you will have enough frosting to do a normal swirl if you would like.
  4. Sprinkle with decorative sugar, if you feel like it. I used pink to represent the strawberry jam inside.
*I prefer Cup4Cup gluten-free all purpose flour and use it in all of my tests. You would also have good results with Jules Nearly Normal Flour and Better Batter.[br]**If your gluten-free all-purpose blend includes xanthan gum or an equivalent (the ones listed above all do), you can omit this.


FrannyCake's Mary Fran's 29th birthday

Happy Birthday Dollface, you’re a big girl now.

It’s my birthday. The second day of the year when it is appropriate and customary to think about life in the abstract. But where January first is a day for looking forward and making goals, a birthday, in this case the twelfth of June, is a perfect day for looking at how far you’ve come.


It’s not like 29 is a big deal. Except for the part where the amount of time left in your twenties is no longer measurable in years. Now it is just days. 364 of them to be exact.

Mary Fran of FrannyCakes is getting old

Sure, you’re a grownup. At least you play one on TV. You have a day job. You have friends. You have family. That makes you pretty much a rock star.

Look at all you have learned.

Things my twenties taught me | by Mary Fran of FrannyCakes

  1. You are a survivor. If you can walk when everyone says it may never happen, you can do anything. The world is yours.
  2. It might be the shoes. Sometimes the moment calls for designer shoes. The right shoes can make all the difference in how you feel, so chose wisely.
  3. Family. They love you. They support you. And they will never turn their back on you. So, be patient and kind and always remember to tell them how much you love them.
  4. When all else fails, do a little dance. There are always going to be tough days. There is never an excuse not to dance.
  5. You can find friends in all sorts of places. Sure, once you are done with college, friends don’t just keep appearing in your life at the same rate, but if you keep looking, they can be found just about anywhere.
  6. Never underestimate the power of friendship. It doesn’t matter if you met 5 minutes ago or 5 years ago, friendship is a powerful bond that you should cherish.
  7. No matter how sick you get, remember you are not alone. Remember that family? Or those friends you have? You have got to let them in. Tell them  that you are struggling. You don’t need to suffer alone.
  8. Being a cyborg is cooler than it looks. The technology is pretty damn amazing and the fact that it gave you your life back is just incredible. And no one has to know that you were shipped with defective parts.
  9. Inspiration is all around you. Everyone has a story, a struggle. Take inspiration from their triumphs to help lead you to your own.

There are 364 days left in my twenties.

Those days are packed moments that might be. Possibility and hopes. They have potential to be just about anything. They are the days for taking over the world.

So, let’s have some epic gluten-free cupcakes and celebrate being alive. 

gluten free raspberry filled chocolate cupcakes

Remarkable life. Whiz-bang cupcakes.

I’ve spent a lot of time doing what is expected.

Playing it safe.

Being nice.

I always thought that I was nice. And that I should be nice. I thought that it was exactly right. Recently, someone told me that they didnt think nice was the right word to describe me. Someone else said that I was better when I wasn’t being nice.


I am going to not be nice. Since that isn’t the right word anyway. And since it is kind of a dirty word, let’s not use it any more.

Nice. Passionate. Caring. Full of heart. Those are better words.

They describe the person I am. The person I want to be. The journey I am on.

I am going to make mistakes. Say things I shouldn’t. Do things that I might think better of later.

I am going to keep listening to the silly pop music that makes me happy. I am owning my Spice Girls ringtone (oh yes, I totally rock that). So, call me. Maybe?

I am going to use my heart more than my head. I want to see where it is going to take me.
your feet will bring you to where your heart is... positive 13

I am going to stop and smell the flowers, particularly when they are left in the bathroom in a public place.

I want to do things. See things. Make things. Change things.

I am going to do as much as I can. Some things I should, some I shouldn’t.

I don’t want a small life. In any way. I want to be epic. (Kind of like my summer has been).

I am going to keep making cupcakes. The kind with real sugar, and butter and eggs. I’ve said it before, cupcakes are therapy. And don’t you forget it. And I am going to keep feeding them to others so that I can maintain my girlish figure.

Speaking of that girlish figure, I am going to keep swimming when I can. Walk when it is possible and not beat myself up over the size of my pants.

I am going to be silly and splurge on crazy shoes (YOLO!). Be it shoes with red bottoms because, frankly, if you don’t buy them today, tomorrow you will have a much more practical use for that money or shoes with 5″ heels because that seems sensible. I am going to make no apologies for getting something that makes me happy.

I am going to go on dates with boys. I might end up kissing a few frogs (the world tells me this is going to happen). Maybe I’ll get a prince (the world says I should dream about this moment). Maybe I already did. Maybe I messed that up. Maybe I didn’t.

Maybe one day, my hair will be pink. And maybe I’ll get a tattoo.

I am going to live. Live passionately & fully. Be optimistic. Be a dreamer. Make no apologies for anything. Be me.

I will always be the optimist. Positive #18

What I am most definitely not going to do is be nice. I am not going to apologize for being me. I am not going to do something just to make someone feel better. I am not going to cave or change just to make someone happy. I’ve done that plenty. It isn’t who I really am, or even who I want to be.

Here’s to being more than nice. Here’s to living more than just a nice life. Here’s to good things.

Before I get to the cupcakes I know you want, I want to make sure that you know about Leggings Solidarity Day! I am asking everyone I know to wear leggings, tights, shorts, skirts – (mostly leggings though!) in support of invisible illness awareness. (You know, since I have a kind of major one). Also, if you haven’t seen it, the quotes pulled in from above are from a personal design project of mine. Making posters with positive thoughts. If you have any suggestions for positive quotes, email them to me!

gluten free raspberry filled chocolate cupcakes

The Whiz-Bang Cupcakes

(Or cupcakes to make an impression). These cupcakes were epic. Well, that’s what I told Dan they were. He asked for something chocolate and fruity. They took about 6 hours from start to finish (with lots of resting, showering an cleaning mixed in). Dan has had both my cupcakes and Mammacakes’ cupcakes. I had to make them extra special.

Chocolate cupcakes. Filled with a tart raspberry jam. Topped with two kinds of merengue buttercream and finished off with a fresh raspberry. This is what I call winning.

Gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with raspberry and swiss merengue buttercream
#ratingval# from #reviews# reviews
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 90 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 1 hour 50 mins
Serves: 30
The cake part of the recipe is adapted from Perfect All-American Chocolate Butter Cake from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
  • For the cupcakes
  • 63 grams cocoa (1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 235 grams (2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) GF AP flour*
  • 300 grams (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 15 grams (1 tablespoon) baking powder
  • 5 grams (3/4 teaspoon) salt
  • 227 grams (12 tablespoons) butter, softened.
  • For the Frosting
  • 8 large egg whites (30g each–total 225g, or 1 cup)**
  • 400 grams (2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 560 grams (5 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 300 grams (about 1 1/2 cups of discs) high quality chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • For Assembly
  • 1/2 pint jar of raspberry jam or preserves
  • 30 fresh raspberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare the cupcake tins with papers & grease the tops.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the boiling water and cocoa til smooth. Let sit for a couple minutes to come to room temperature.
  3. In a second bowl, lightly beat together the eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa mixture and the vanilla.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and stir on low to combine.
  5. Add butter and the remaining cocoa mixture and mix on low speed until all ingredients are moistend. Increase speed to medium for a minute and a half to develop structure.
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the cocoa & egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for about 30 seonds after each addition.
  7. Use a scoop and fill the tins 1/2-2/3 full. You should end up with exactly 30 cupcakes.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The cake should spring back when lightly pressed, or a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
  9. Cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, and then move to a cooling rack until completely cool.
For the frosting
  1. While the cupcakes are baking, make the frosting. If this process intimidates you, Sweet Apolita made a pretty [url href=”http://sweetapolita.com/2011/04/swiss-meringue-buttercream-demystified/”]sweet tutorial[/url].
  2. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a small pot until they reach 140 degrees fahrenheit.
  3. Transfer to a clean stand mixer bowl. Using the whisk attachment, beat until light and fluffy (soft peaks).
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter one chunk at a time until it is all combined.
  5. Remove half of the frosting and set aside. Melt the chocolate in the micorwave on half power, heating it first for 30 seconds, and then in 15 second intervals after that, always stirring after each burst of heat. Let the chocolate cool a wee bit – you don’t want it hot so that it melts the butter, and then add it to half your frosting.
  6. Set this frosting aside. Add the vanilla bean paste to the reserved half of the frosting.
  1. When the cupcakes are cool, remove the cupcake centers (I used a cupcake corer), and pipe in the raspberry filling. Replace the cupcake tops.
  2. Pipe the frosting on the cupcakes – I did half of the cupcakes in chocolate, half in vanilla, but you can get creative and use both on each cupcake if you want.

*I prefer Cup4Cup as a pre-made blend. Please don’t use a bean based flour.
**You can use the pasteurized whites if you prefer, since you cook the eggs anyways, but it will be slightly less fluffy.


This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday on Simply Sugar & Gluten Free.