Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Mingle with MELT Contest

cupcakes, gluten-free, sugar-free, red velvet

It’s no secret in our marriage that I have the upper hand when it comes to ordering food in a restaurant.

Last week, while out for dessert and cocktails with some friends, I talked Ben out of ordering a red velvet cupcake.

Now before you label me as some kind of evil ordering control freak, understand that instead of that red velvet cupcake, I ordered, for the two of us: Pumpkin Caramel Creme (with mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies and Pumpkin Seed Brittle on the side), and Tabletop S’mores. With homemade marshmallows and fresh graham crackers, naturally. And since we were with friends, and our friends all like to share, there was also Creme Brulee, Caramel Apple Bread Pudding, Chocolate-Filled Croissant Donuts with Caramel Dipping Sauce, and Chocolate Cinnamon Ice Cream.

It’s not like the boy was deprived. And I doubt he really missed the red velvet cupcake. But nonetheless, I wanted to make it up to him.

Fortunately for us, a couple tubs of Melt Buttery Spread arrived on our doorstep the very next morning.

Melt is the latest in the healthy butter substitutes category. It is a blend of the healthiest fats and oils, like virgin coconut oil and flaxseed oil to support a healthy weight and good cholesterol levels,  but it differs from its peers in that it is organic; 100% free of artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives; soy and gluten-free; and utterly delicious. I make that last point because as someone who hardly ever shmears butter on anything, I had a hard time not licking the spoon when it was time to dig into the Melt. It has a sweet, buttery taste that simply melts in your mouth. Not that I felt too much guilt, because Melt has only 80 calories per tablespoon, which is less than other fats. Melt is also different from other butter substitutes in that works in all kinds of cooking and baking applications just like butter.


I decided to give it a shot in a gluten-free, sugar-free version of red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. This allowed me to try out Melt in its melted form, in place of melted butter or oil in a baked good. It also gave me the chance to check out how Melt holds up in creamy pillows of cupcake frosting.

So how did it turn out? We both declared these some of the best cupcakes I had ever made. The cupcakes were not too dense and not too fluffy – just as I like them – and the hint of chocolate and buttery tang was spot on for a red velvet cupcake. The frosting was light and fluffy, with just the right amount of sweet, buttery contrast to tangy cream cheese. Since low-carb baking is sometimes associated with lots of fat, it was encouraging to find out that this healthier fat option provided the same great results. We declared a Melt success.

I have more good news for you. Melt is sponsoring a Mingle with Melt contest, giving you the chance to try out Melt and host a dinner party while you’re at it. One lucky winner will receive $500 gift card to use however you like towards your Mingle with Melt party, where you’ll have the chance to show off your favorite Melt recipes to your family and friends. It could be a swanky dinner party or casual football gathering, but either way, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re feeding everyone a little more healthfully with Melt in the mix.

Oh wait, there’s more! The author of the blog from which the winner was referred will also win a $500 gift card! That’s a party for me, a party for you, and more great Melt recipes to go around. When you enter, be sure to mention Cara’s Cravings so we can have the chance to party together with Melt.

So just to summarize:
Click Here to enter the $500 Mingle with Melt Giveaway
Do it by October 31st, 2011
Mention Cara’s Cravings
Good luck and thanks for entering!


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Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 8 servings


1/2 cup (56gm) coconut flour
2 tablespoons (10gm) natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons Melt, melted over low heat
1/2 cup low fat buttermilk, or 2 tablespoons powdered buttermilk + 1/2 cup water*
1/2 cup erythritol, such as NOW Foods
1/2 teaspoon vanilla stevia extract, such as NuNaturals
7-8 drops red gel food coloring

4oz / 114gm reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
2 oz / 56gm Melt
1 cup erythritol, powdered (use a coffee or spice grinder to crush the granules to a fine powder)
15-20 liquid vanilla stevia drops, or to taste


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place cupcake liners in 8 wells of a muffin tin.

In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and powdered buttermilk, if using. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, combine the eggs, egg whites, Melt, buttermilk or water, erythritol, and stevia. Mix on low speed with a hand blender until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix well, beginning on low speed and increasing to high, for about 2 minutes, until well-blended and no lumps remain. Blend in food coloring until desired color is achieved.

Divide batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and Melt until fluffy (the Melt does not need to be warmed too room temperature; it will be soft enough straight from the refrigerator.) Add the powdered erythritol in several additions, beating well, until fluffy. Beat in liquid vanilla stevia drops to taste.

*Powdered buttermilk can be found in the baking section of your grocery store. If you only use buttermilk once in a while, this is a great staple to have in order to avoid the inevitable "What do I do with the rest of this quart of buttermilk I bought when I only needed a 1/2 cup?" Powdered buttermilk lasts in the refrigerator for a long time, and can be used in any recipe that calls for buttermilk. For every cup of buttermilk needed, add 4 tablespoons of powdered buttermilk with the dry ingredients, and 1 cup of water with the wet ingredients.

Nutrition Facts:

Servings Per Recipe: 8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 159.6
Total Fat 11.9 g
Saturated Fat 28.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.5 g
Cholesterol 56.9 mg
Sodium 296.8 mg
Potassium 67.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 7.1 g
Dietary Fiber 3.2 g
Sugars 0.7 g
Protein 6.8 g

Cara Lyons,

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays for 10/4/2011.

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36 Responses to “Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Mingle with MELT Contest”

  1. 1

    Kaytorade — October 3, 2011 @ 12:20 pm Reply

    It sounds like you ordered everything on the dessert menu but the red velvet cupcakes! But it's hard to feel bad for Ben when I know he has even better treats at home.

  2. 2

    Vanessa — October 3, 2011 @ 1:40 pm Reply

    You know, it really hurts my feelings when you make stuff like this and eat it without me. I KID. But I did enter the contest!!! And I know of a little gathering that these would be perfect at! xoxoxoxo

  3. 3

    That Clever Clementine — October 3, 2011 @ 2:01 pm Reply

    These look luscious, thanks for more great inspiration!

  4. 4

    Ranjani — October 3, 2011 @ 2:10 pm Reply

    These look awesome! I don't do much gluten-free baking, but I'm very intrigued…

  5. 5

    Miss ♡ Veronica ✔ — October 3, 2011 @ 4:17 pm Reply

    OMG, this is my DREAM recipe!  Amazing. Thank you for this little gem!

  6. 6

    Emily — October 3, 2011 @ 4:37 pm Reply

    These sounds great!! and much simpler than the gluten free recipes I normally come across.. Any suggestions on how to substitute Erythritol? I am not too concerned about my sugar intake, and could use white sugar, brown sugar, or agave?

  7. 7

    Cara — October 3, 2011 @ 4:41 pm Reply

    Thanks! I would replace with regular sugar. If you omit both the erythritol and stevia you will probably need about 3/4 cup sugar – but I'm not certain so you might want to try less at first and adjust to taste. Good luck!

  8. 8

    Joanne — October 3, 2011 @ 5:50 pm Reply

    To be fair, red velvet cupcakes that aren't homemade always tend to be disappointing.  Ben was much better off holding out.  You obviously knew better.

  9. 9

    Alissa — October 3, 2011 @ 7:50 pm Reply

    Perfect! I've got a packet of coconut flour waiting to be used in the cupboard…

  10. 10

    Kelly — October 3, 2011 @ 8:09 pm Reply

    Glad you were able to make it up to him.  I'm curious, what gives this substitute its buttery flavor?  Is it some sort of added flavoring or do the oils in it already have that characteristic?  Does it have a coconut-y taste at all?

  11. 11

    Cara — October 3, 2011 @ 8:13 pm Reply

    Butter is of the ingredients, it's just blended with other fats. I don't find it coconut-y, but it is certainly a bit sweet!On Oct 3, 2011 4:09 PM, "Disqus" <>

  12. 12

    Shannon — October 3, 2011 @ 8:46 pm Reply

    Ah, that sounds great, and how impressive that it worked in a cupcake and frosting recipe!!  How does eythritol substitute for sugar?

  13. 13

    Cara — October 3, 2011 @ 11:38 pm Reply

    I just realized I misspoke – I went back to my notes and remembered that the erythritol and stevia were meant to replace 1/2 cup sugar. I knew something didn't sound right when I typed out 3/4! Sorry about that.

  14. 14

    Cara — October 3, 2011 @ 11:40 pm Reply

    Thanks Shannon! The erythritol + stevia are meant to replace 1/2 cup sugar. Erythritol is a little less sweet than sugar, hence the stevia to add a little bit. 

  15. 15

    Emily — October 3, 2011 @ 11:47 pm Reply

    Thanks! Cant wait to make it 🙂

  16. 16

    Emily @ A Cambridge Story — October 4, 2011 @ 12:57 am Reply

    These look gorgeous!! I want some of this frosting now!

  17. 17

    Tasteofbeirut — October 4, 2011 @ 2:57 am Reply

    These look so dainty and full of sweet goodness it is very hard to imagine they are so light and sugar-free; so great of you to test these ingredients which I have never used (yet) and pave the way…

  18. 18

    Marla — October 5, 2011 @ 8:05 pm Reply

    These sound like some awesome cupcakes! Fun to be on Foodgawker with you today 🙂

  19. 19

    Karen from DDP — October 9, 2011 @ 5:52 pm Reply

    Gluten-free recipes have always captivated me. The red velvet cakes look so luscious! Plus, the recipe is very simple compared to the other ones I have encountered recently. The photos look very professional btw. 🙂

  20. 20

    Cara — October 9, 2011 @ 6:10 pm Reply

    Thanks for the kind words Karen, appreciate it!

  21. 21

    Lori Lynn — October 11, 2011 @ 12:51 am Reply

    Those look so good! I didn't know there was such a thing as gluten-free red velvet cupcakes. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  22. 22

    Chelsea Wallace — November 12, 2011 @ 11:27 pm Reply

    Thanks for the great recipe idea! I'd like to make these for my Grandpa, who has celiacs. I saw, in the comments, you said that I could use 1/2 cup sugar instead of the erythritol and stevia. What about for the frosting? Would 1 cup sugar work? Thanks again!

  23. 23

    Chelsea Wallace — November 12, 2011 @ 11:45 pm Reply

    While I'm asking questions, can i substitute butter back in for the melt? if so, would it be same quantities? Thanks so much and sorry for all the questions!

  24. 24

    Cara — November 14, 2011 @ 3:37 am Reply

    Hi Chelsea! yes, you can use butter in place of Melt. And for the frosting, you can just use a regular cream cheese frosting recipe, which will call for powdered sugar. Since I was substituting erythritol to make a sugar-free frosting, I had to powder it myself, but you won't need to do that with a traditional recipe. Hope you guys like the cupcakes!

  25. 25

    Best Cupcakes In NY — January 9, 2012 @ 3:45 am Reply

    Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

  26. 26

    Jane — February 8, 2012 @ 4:07 pm Reply

    Yum! The cupcakes look so good, and I have never heard of Melt. I will have to look for it! 🙂

  27. 27

    felishia — April 13, 2012 @ 5:57 pm Reply

    Where did you get the melt from. Also What is erythritol, never heard of it before i have a sister in law that i would love to make these for

    • 27.1

      Cara — April 15, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

      Hi Felishia, I received the Melt from the company directly as a promotion. I don’t think it’s available in my area yet but they have a store locator on their website so you can see if it’s available in yours. If not, you could use another fat like butter, coconut oil, Earth balance sticks, etc, depending on your dietary needs. Erythritol is a zero-calorie all-natural granulated sugar substitute. You should be able to find it at a health food store. Or, check my Amazon shop (link in the header of the page) for a couple of my favorite brands.

  28. 28

    Claire — August 20, 2012 @ 9:47 pm Reply

    Cara – Just found your red velvet cupcake recipe from Foodgawker and saw Melt. This is the first time I have ever heard about this and I’ve been searching for a healthy substitute for my baking and I LOVE coconut oil!! Thanks for sharing about this and I will definitely go get one when it comes to our local Whole Foods Market (in September) in the San Francisco bay area!! Thanks again! Great blog and keep up the great work!

    • 28.1

      Cara — August 20, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

      Hi Claire! Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂 I’m sure you will love Melt, it has a really nice flavor. Have fun cooking and baking!!

  29. Pingback: Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

  30. 29

    Shel — December 9, 2012 @ 4:59 pm Reply

    These cupcakes were a success although I wasn’t able to find Melt, erythritol, and vanilla stevia extract anywhere near me (and I drove to a few grocery stores). I had to resort to Splenda, which I wasn’t happy with but my husband and son liked them. Now I found all the missing ingredients so I can’t wait to make these again soon. Thank you for the recipe.

  31. 30

    roopa — April 9, 2013 @ 1:12 am Reply

    thank you so much for this great recipe, but i was wondering if it would be alright to use whole wheat flour in intead of coconut flour?

    • 30.1

      roopa — April 9, 2013 @ 1:16 am


    • 30.2

      Cara — April 9, 2013 @ 9:03 am

      Hi Roopa, coconut flour functions much differently than wheat and requires a much smaller flour:liquid ratio, so unfortunately you will not be able to substitute. Rather than try to convert this recipe I would suggest searching for a more traditional red velvet cupcake recipe where you can replace white flour with wheat. Good luck!

  32. 31

    Greg — November 4, 2014 @ 9:41 pm Reply

    The woman I grew up with, always used margarine (Daffodile Margarine) in her cooking. She used it in cakes, pan cakes piklets etc and for any type of butter cream mock cream. Still, butter is best but most people can not tell the difference.

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