Cranberry-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes (Low Carb and Gluten Free)

The problem with Thanksgiving leftovers is that there are never even amounts of each dish. The mashed potatoes might be all gone, but there is still plenty of stuffing and turkey. Or the turkey is all gone, but there are outrageous amounts of green beans still left. You just never end up with the right amounts of anything to keep eating them together as you do on the actual day. Besides which, we all get pretty tired of the same dinner over and over anyway. In my case, it seems that I always have cranberry sauce to spare. I love the stuff, but it’s not really a dish in its own right, it’s a condiment, and as such is eaten sparingly. So I always end up with a jar languishing in the refrigerator, long after all the turkey and sides are gone or have been used up in other dishes. And what else do you do with cranberry sauce besides put it on turkey?

Last year, I ended up putting some of my leftover cranberry sauce to good use, in these Cranberry Cinnamon Pinwheels. But they weren’t low carb or gluten free and this year I wanted to use up the sauce in a way that I could enjoy myself. I honestly cannot say from whence my inspiration came this time, but I just suddenly knew they’d make a great filling for chocolate cupcakes. And as I had been wanting to try adapting my basic almond flour cake recipe for a chocolate version, I knew this was the way to go.

I’ve made a number of filled cupcakes in my day, most of which aren’t low carb. There are several different techniques for putting in the filling, but I think the best, and the least messy, is coring the cupcakes and spooning or piping in the filling. I happen to have the perfect tool for this as well, although I didn’t realize it at the time I purchased it. It was only happenstance that I discovered that the 1-inch diameter biscuit cutter which came in a set was ideal for coring cupcakes. I remember holding the thing up to my husband and laughing, asking why I would bake biscuits that were so small. But a few weeks later, I came across a Martha Stewart article on creating filled cupcakes, and she used the very same thing to create a nice even hole in each cupcake. I tried it myself and it worked like a charm, pushing into the cupcake and pulling out a perfect core without breaking the cakes at all. Then I could cut the top off the core and use it to cover the filling before frosting each cupcake.

If you don’t have such a tool, you can create a similar core using a small, sharp knife, but you will likely have to angle your knife to create a cone-shaped core so that you can get it out more easily. But if you do have a 1-inch diameter cookie or biscuit cutter, you will find this is a perfect use for it. I was a little concerned that it might not work as well with the somewhat denser consistency of a low carb cupcake, but my fears were groundless. My cores came out just as well as they do with regular cake. Then I filled the cakes with about a tablespoon of leftover cranberry sauce (in my case, I actually used the Chipotle Lime Cranberry Sauce because it’s what I had), popped the tops back on, and covered the cupcakes in chocolate ganache. I garnished each with a “sugared” cranberry (really, just a cranberry dipped in water and then rolled in granulated erythritol).

The Results: Cranberry and chocolate are a great combination. These are so fun and pretty, and a perfect way to use up cranberry sauce. And I have to say, although you can use any old cranberry sauce, the Chipotle Lime version adds a nice little kick to these chocolatey cakes! The cakes themselves were lovely and moist, and I left a few unfilled to give to the kids, as I knew they wouldn’t like the cranberry version. My rather precocious middle child knew it wasn’t a “regular” cupcake almost instantly, but she still devoured hers and asked for a second, so that’s saying a lot. My 2 year old was completely fooled, and called them “happy cake”, singing Happy Birthday to herself while she ate.

Cranberry-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

2 cups almond flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup granulated erythritol
1/4 cup chocolate whey protein powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz Greek yogurt
1/4 cup butter, softened
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
20 drops stevia extract
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar free cranberry sauce

Chocolate Ganache:
6 tbsp butter
2 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 tbsp powdered erythritol
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
15 drops stevia extract

For the cake, preheat the oven to 325F and line a 12-muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder, erythritol, protein powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt, breaking up any clumps with the back of a fork. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat yogurt and butter together until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla and stevia and beat until just combined. Add half of almond flour mixture and beat until combined, then beat in almond milk. Beat in remaining flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake cupcakes for 25 to 30 minutes. The tops should spring back when lightly touched and a tester inserted in the middle should come out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Core the cooled cupcakes using a 1-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter as in the picture above (if you lack both of these, you can do it with a sharp knife). Make sure to give the biscuit-cutter a little twist while it’s in the cake, to get the core out more easily. Set cores aside. Spoon about 1 tbsp of cranberry sauce into the hole. With a sharp knife, cut the very tops off the cores so that you have a thin disc of cake. Place a disc on top of the cranberry filling and press lightly to adhere.

For the chocolate topping, melt butter together with chopped chocolate and powdered erythritol in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring continuously until smooth. Add cocoa powder and stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla and stevia extract. Let cool 10 minutes, until thickened but still spreadable. Spread over each cupcake with a knife or offset spatula. Let set about 30 minutes, then top with a “sugared” cranberry.

Serves 12. Each cupcake has a total of 7 g of carbs and 3.5 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 3.5 g

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  1. What a lovely idea! The cupcakes look absolutely divine!

  2. These are stunning! So festive and satisfied that chocolate need….

  3. I would never think this up on my own. What an amazing dessert!!

  4. These look awesome! Fabulous

  5. What a great use for cranberry sauce! Now I'm mad that I dumped what was left of mine this morning!

  6. Very clever! You have been on a roll lately with many lovely sounding recipes!

  7. These are so cool! I'd love to see the delight on someone's face when they bite into one of these!

  8. How do you manage to create all these indulgent looking desserts in low-carb versions?? This looks absolutely delicious, even without a particular liking of cranberries :)

  9. can't wait to try these as I, too, have some leftover Chipotle Lime Cranberry Sauce. It was WONDERFUL, by the way.

    So happy to see all this lovely baked treats…

  10. RavieNomNoms says:

    Ahhhhh what a great idea!! Brilliant

  11. I look forward to the leftover cranberry sauce. I prefer the stuffing, but that doesn't last too long:)These cupcakes look delicious and love the cranberry surprise:)xx

  12. Who knew these flavors would go so well together!! They look stunning!

  13. nanabella15 says:

    I love your blog, and these are amazing to gaze upon and dream about, but, alas, I developed allergies to all nuts, sesame, sunflower and coconut last year and cannot use them anymore! :(
    But I wish to remain low carb, so I will have to find SOME way to substitute SOMETHING for the almond flour – I was thinking maybe carbalose flour… though there is a LOT of wheat gluten in that … will let you know what I come up with – or maybe I will just look upon yours and drool a bit! :) xoxo
    oh! I make my own cranberry sauce using agave, "brown sugar " saccharin and tangerine zest and juice… with chocolate, that would be heaven … ok, I am FINDING a low carb sub for almond flour!!!

  14. oh my goodness I'll be right over to have one of these……………really I want one now :)

  15. These look so perfect for Christmas – and I'd never have thought of this cupcake combination, despite now realising how perfect the flavours would go together.

  16. Thank you for this very cool low carb cupcake recipe. I also love the directions on how to fill the cupcake. I had no idea. :) I love that you paired cranberries with chocolate.. perfect use of tart and sweet. :) Well done.

  17. these cupcakes look amazing! I love the chocolate and cranberry idea, but chocolate and chipotle cranberry is a kicking combo I'd love to try!

  18. Wow, that i such a great idea for leftover cranberry sauce! Now I am really regretting throwing mine away. I need to try that flavor combo.

  19. Yummm. Love finding a tasty surprise filling in any cupcake…and they're so fun to make, too…

  20. Oh boy, I like the fact that they're filled. They look so tasty!

  21. Some of these ingredients sound new to me. I would have no idea where to find Chocolate Whey protein powder. Also is there a sub for the eryithol? My husband and one of the kids can't handle this ingredient. My two other kids and I can handle it.

    This looks very tasty and we are a big fan of cranberries!!

  22. Such a creative use of leftover cranberry sauce – I love reading about how you use all these different ingredients!

  23. food_dreamer says:

    Oh, that's awful about the nut allergy. And coconut too!

    I honestly don't know what to suggest. Hey, how about skipping the cake part altogether and making cranberry-filled chocolate cups. The ganache on these might be a tad melty as cups, but if kept in the fridge, that might work.


    Blog: All Day I Dream About Food

  24. food_dreamer says:

    Hi Holly,

    Chocolate whey protein is available at lots of health food stores and trader joe's. Since almond flour lacks gluten, the protein in the whey helps give the cakes some structure. You could use vanilla whey in this too, it's simply that I find that the vanilla flavour can be a bit overpowering.

    In place of erythritol, you could use Stevia In The Raw, or granulated splenda. Or you could go completely with liquid sucralose.

    Hope that helps!


    Blog: All Day I Dream About Food

  25. I'd say you put those cranberries to very good use. What a fun way to infuse a healthy ingredient into a cupcake.

  26. These look fabulous, Carolyn! I bet the fruit filling keeps these nice and moist….mmmmmmmm.

  27. Beautiful cupcakes and great way to use that cranberry sauce, although I'll admit that my household tends to eat it by the spoon :-)

  28. These look AWESOME!! I love chocolate and cranberries!!!

  29. I love this idea…there's always way more cranberry sauce left over after the turkey is gone. Beautiful cupcakes!

  30. happywhennothungry says:

    Wow these cupcakes look amazing! I've never seen cupcakes filled with cranberry sauce before. Looks delicious!

  31. These look and sound delicious, Carolyn!

  32. These are absolutely gorgeous! You are quite the gluten free baker and I'm always left hungry!

  33. What a creative cupcake – I would never think to use up cranberry sauce in a cupcake. Very pretty too!

  34. What a great idea! Those are some beautiful cupcakes. I like Thanksgiving leftovers just like the original meal, it is a big pet peeve when there is one item already gone.

  35. Gorgeous cupcakes – stunning presentation, and I bet they're the perfect treat! Love the "sugared" cranberries on top…

  36. This is such a great idea! I love chocolate and cranberry together. Can't wait to try this really soon.

  37. nanabella15 says:

    Wow! I never thought of that – you are a genious!!! Thanks :) xoxo

  38. Wonderful idea Carolyn! They look delicious and oh so pretty!!

  39. So pretty, and that's funny about the teeny biscuit cutter! And I think the sight of them has given me chocolate and cranberry cravings.

  40. Cranberry & chocolate: love the seasonal flavor pairing in these treats :)

  41. These cupcakes are great, I like cranberries and chocolate combo. I’ve featured this recipes on my blog! I hope you don’t mind! If you don’t agree with that please contact me and I will remove it. All the best.


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