Gluten Free Italian Cream Cupcakes

Gluten Free Italian Cream Cupcakes Recipe

4.75 from 4 votes
Gluten Free Italian Cream Cupcakes
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Gluten Free Italian Cream Cupcakes Recipe

Is there really anything wrong with being nice? In a conversation with a male, single friend of mine - one of the nicest, most considerate people I know - he revealed to me that he hated being called “nice” because girls don’t like nice guys. Really? What’s the alternative? Mean guys? A waitress I know once told me she never was “too nice” to her customers because she felt it was unprofessional and that the diners would think she was just trying to get a bigger tip. Well, personally I am much more apt to give a big tip to a nice waitress or waiter than I am to one who is snooty and aloof. If a person is sincerely nice, it resonates. Some people, especially in business, are afraid to be nice because they think it makes them appear weak. I don’t see it that way. It takes a lot of strength to be nice to someone else, especially if you are under a lot of pressure or are having a crappy day or are stressed out to the max. It is not weak to care about other people, to try to make their day a little better, or to not take out your frustrations on people who have nothing to do with creating those frustrations. There are those who feel that nice is not “cool”. I think nice is the height of cool! Of course I am not exactly the exemplification of cool. I will never, ever be accused of being a hipster role model. But there are some things that are ultimately a whole lot more satisfying than being cool. Consideration, brightening someone else's day, being nice to another person is satisfying and it can help to reverse a situation that is spiraling downward. The easiest thing in the world is to combat meanness with more meanness. A little niceness on the other hand can keep the situation from going from bad to worse. Niceness might just even turn a bad situation into a good one. And even if it doesn’t, there is a certain satisfaction that comes from taking the high road. I will admit it – I am not always nice. In fact I used to be a lot nicer than I am now. I used to think that I was “too nice” - that people walked all over me or took advantage. So I became less nice. Honestly, I like myself a lot more when I am nice. I finally realized that I am smart enough to know when someone is taking advantage of me and I have enough guts to not let that happen. I finally figured out that I don’t have to sacrifice who I really am to do it. When I think of niceness I think of gluten free cupcakes. And the hospitality of gracious Southern housewives. It seems like every old school Southern housewife has a recipe for Italian Cream Cake. The recipes, while similar, vary slightly. Some put pecans inside the cake, others only sprinkle them on the frosting, and still others have no pecans at all. Some fold chopped up maraschino cherries into the batter, others simply add the maraschino cherry juice. But they all seem to use a combination of shortening and butter, have coconut in or on them, and top it off with cream cheese frosting, and they are all delicious. This is my gluten free version, in cupcake form. While I could extol the virtues of these Gluten Free Italian Cream Cupcakes and use all sorts of synonyms for wonderful, perhaps the best thing I can say about them right now is that they are… very nice!
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Resting Time5 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 Cupcakes
Calories: 575kcal
Author: Gluten Free & More


  • 2 large eggs separated
  • 1 cup pastry quality gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
  • ¼ cup non hydrogenated vegetable shortening at room temperature
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature – divided use
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract divided use
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans divided use
  • cups coconut flakes divided use
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 12 maraschino cherries with stems, patted dry


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  • Beat the egg whites until stiff with the whisk attachment of a mixer or a handheld mixer.
  • Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together in a mixing bowl.
  • Mix the buttermilk and maraschino cherry juice together.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the shortening, 4 tablespoons butter, and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix well. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. With the mixer on low, add half the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, and finally the remaining flour. Using a spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl well to ensure all ingredients are fully combined. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Fold in ½ cup of the pecans and 1 cup of the coconut. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes or until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then remove to a rack to finish cooling.
  • While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and 3 ½ cups powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add more powdered sugar as necessary until the frosting is thick and smooth. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup pecans and coconut. Top each cupcake with a maraschino cherry.


Nutrition Facts
Gluten Free Italian Cream Cupcakes Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 575 Calories from Fat 315
% Daily Value*
Fat 35g54%
Saturated Fat 18g90%
Cholesterol 79mg26%
Sodium 230mg10%
Potassium 138mg4%
Carbohydrates 64g21%
Fiber 3g12%
Sugar 54g60%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 660IU13%
Vitamin C 0.2mg0%
Calcium 54mg5%
Iron 1.1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Disclaimer: All nutrition facts on Gluten Free & More are meant only as a guide and may differ depending on product brands used or ingredient substitutions. Some errors may occur, so you are encouraged to confirm the recipe’s ingredient and nutrition suitability for your own diet.
Have you tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and let us know your thoughts in the Ratings & Reviews section below.
Tags: Cherries Coconut Cream Cream Cheese Italian Maraschino Cherries Pecans
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  1. Lynne H
    September 29, 2013

    Carol – WOW, these sound and look VERY NICE!! One question, I don’t eat eggs so I can’t whip the whites. I usually use ground flax seed and warm water for my egg replacement. Do you think I would still be able to make these without the egg whites? Thank you for all you do for us. Lynne

    1. CarolKicinski
      October 5, 2013

      Hi Lynne, I haven’t personally tried it but I did once forget to serpeate my eggs and just beat them into the batter whole – the cupcakes were not quite as light but still delicious so I am guessing it would work. I am very interested in your results if you try it!
      Thank you!

  2. Jen
    September 30, 2013

    First of all, I completely agree with you that kindness is strength, and being nice is one of the best feelings in the world.

    And in the spirit of being nice, I’d like to thank you for sharing this delicious recipe. I can’t wait to try these cupcakes :)


    1. CarolKicinski
      October 5, 2013

      Aw, thank you so much Jen. That is so very nice of you!

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  4. Rogene Robbins
    October 4, 2013

    Very nice! Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    1. CarolKicinski
      October 5, 2013

      Haha! Glad you didn’t – resist that is.

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  7. Theresa
    August 28, 2015

    I’ve been searching for weeks and weeks for a gluten free Italian cream cake recipe that does not require 5 eggs! This is great!!

    1. Gluten Free & More
      September 1, 2015

      Theresa, Yay! I’m happy you found my blog :)

  8. Sharon
    June 15, 2020

    I made these cupcakes. So wonderful! Even my son loved these.

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