Growing up, my mom always made her famous chocolate potato cake for each of our birthdays. I know, I know: it sounds very odd, but the truth is you never actually tasted the potato and it really just ensured that the batter was super moist, which I probably never appreciated as a kid but certainly do now.
These days when birthdays arise in our household, I’ve found my own tricks to achieve a really moist, super chocolatey cake and cupcakes. This recipe uses one of our son’s favorite foods: bananas.
If you’ve got an overripe banana laying around and some gluten-free flour in your pantry, you’re well on your way to making these delicious allergy-friendly cupcakes. They’re gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free—always a winner for class parties when your kiddo or any of their friends have dietary restrictions.
Pick the Right Gluten-Free Flour
In this recipe, I use a gluten-free flour blend that contains xanthan gum (I like Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Baking Flour Blend). The xanthan gum acts as a binder in baking recipes, helping give structure to your gluten free baked goods. Check the ingredients in your flour blend, and if it doesn’t contain xanthan gum (or another binding ingredient like guar gum or psyllium husks), I recommend adding 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum to ensure success.
Which Cocoa Powder to Buy
Most cocoa powders will be naturally vegan in the sense that they’d rarely contain any dairy or egg-based ingredients, but it never hurts to double check. I always keep Trader Joe’s unsweetened cocoa powder in stock at home and used it for these brownies.
If you’re baking these for a party or special gathering, the good news is they’re even better the second (and third) day, so feel free to tackle them in advance to make life easy on the day of the party. You can even frost them the day before and store at room temperature until the party—one more thing you can check off your to-do list!
More Allergy-Friendly Sweets
Gluten-Free Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
If your gluten-free flour blend does not contain xanthan gum in the ingredients, add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum to the recipe.
Note that the FDA does list coconut as a tree nut, though many people with tree nut allergies are fine with coconut. If you're not sure if the person or people eating your cookies has a tree nut allergy that includes coconut, check with them before making this recipe, or substitute another fat in place of the coconut oil (we recommend butter if there are no dairy allergies, or vegan EarthBalance if there are).
- 1 3/4 cups (240g) gluten-free flour blend (see Recipe Note)
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (30g) unsweetened dairy-free cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 large ripe banana
- 1/2 cup coconut oil (or other your oil of choice), liquid at room temperature
- 1 cup freshly brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature (use decaf if you’d like)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 batch Vegan Chocolate Frosting
Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare the pan:
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
Mix the dry ingredients:
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
Mix wet ingredients:
In a separate medium mixing bowl, mash the banana with a fork or potato masher, and add the coconut oil, cooled coffee, vanilla and apple cider vinegar. Whisk until combined. (There may be small chunks of banana in the mixture, which is perfectly fine.)
Mix the cupcake batter:
Add the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir thoroughly to combine using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Portion out the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each almost to the top.
Bake cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes:
or until cupcakes spring back ever so slightly when pressed in the center. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cool, frost cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting.
Serve, or store:
Cupcakes can be served immediately. Cupcakes can also be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days if unfrosted, or for 2 days once frosted.