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Vanilla Cupcakes with a Strawberry Surprise (Grain, Dairy, Nut Free)


Vanilla Cupcakes with a Strawberry Surprise 

Aren’t these so adorable?! If you follow Primally Inspired on facebook, you know that I am such a sucker when it comes to themed parties and especially girly themed parties. Valentine’s Day is no exception. Before you say “oh barf” and click off this page, let me at least explain myself.

The reason I love Valentine’s Day isn’t because of the “romantic” aspect of the holiday, but instead I love all the cutesy heart themed food, and the pink, red, glittery, girly decorations.

Okay, now you can say “oh barf.”


But even if you may not agree with all my pink, cutesy, girly, glittery ridiculousness, you’ve got to try these cupcakes – they will woo you over. They will woo anyone over, I promise.

You see, this is not any old boring vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting. These cupcakes have a surprise in the center. And not only a surprise, but a cute heart shaped surprise (and if I could make it glittery, you better believe I would have).

I served these to a bunch of unsuspecting kids (and a few adults) and I got the biggest kick out of their reaction. When the kids bit into the cupcake, their eyes lit up when they realized there was a strawberry surprise in the center. They all started laughing and giggling, wanting to know how it got in there and if everyone had one, too.


They loved it. Not only is the heart shaped strawberry surprise so fun, but these cupcakes are seriously good. And that icing. Ohhhhhh that icing. Best icing ever.


Of course I knew better than to tell the kids these were “healthy” cupcakes, but the adults couldn’t believe it. They said they would have never known these were gluten free, had no grains or dairy and were a healthier option. One of the adults even told me it was the moistest, fluffiest cupcake she’s every had and the icing was so good that she wanted to bathe in it.

Yes! 🙂


Vanilla Cupcakes with a Strawberry Surprise (Grain, Dairy, Nut Free)

Makes 12 cupcakes


4 eggs

1/2 cup milk of choice (I use THIS)

¼ cup coconut oil or butter or ghee, melted 

1/3 cup honey or sweetener of choice

1 ½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract

½ cup coconut flour 

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

12 strawberries, hulled and cut each top into a V-shape

extra strawberries for decorating



1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated for at least a night and then separate the cream and water

1 ½ cups all natural dark chocolate chips or a dark chocolate bar broken into pieces (make sure the chocolate is at least 50% cacao)

½ cup coconut oil

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

pinch salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Add your coconut milk, eggs, coconut oil, honey and vanilla into a bowl and stir until well mixed.

Now add your dry cupcake ingredients to the bowl and stir until combined. Let sit for a minute or two so the coconut flour can absorb into the batter.

Pour your batter into a cupcake lined tray and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until tops are golden and center is cooked through.

Let cool.

Meanwhile wash and hull your strawberries. Cut a small V shape into the top of the strawberry so that when you bite into it, it will form a heart shape.

When the cupcakes are cooled, cut a small hole on the top of the cupcake. Do not go all the way through to the bottom. Stuff a strawberry into the hole and cover the hole up with the cupcake filling. Repeat with all the cupcakes.

 For the icing:

In a double boiler over low heat, melt your chocolate chips, coconut oil and vanilla. If you don’t have a double boiler, use a skillet filled with water and then place a smaller pot inside the skillet with water. Put your chocolate, coconut oil and vanilla in the smaller pot. Keep stirring until smooth and melted. As soon as it’s melted, take it off of the heat and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes. If you have a really cold fridge, keep an eye on it – you may need to take it out sooner. You do NOT want it to harden – it just needs to thicken up a bit.

While it’s in the fridge, whip your coconut cream until peaks form. It takes 5 – 10 minutes with a stand mixer.

Once the coconut cream is whipped and the timer goes off from the chocolate being in the fridge, take your chocolate out and give it a good stir. Now pour your chocolate in the whipped coconut cream mixing bowl and continue whipping for 5 minutes.

Frost your cupcakes and enjoy!


*This icing is really amazing and stands up so well to being in the fridge or being at room temperature. It really doesn’t matter either way – it stays the same consistency. It’s a great decorating icing, too. If you don’t eat these within a day, I would store them in the fridge or a cool place, only because of the eggs and the strawberry in the cupcake.


How is I frost my cupcakes: I am by no means a pro at cupcake frosting, but this is how I do it. I put the icing in a big plastic bag and snip a little corner off. I then use the plastic bag to squeeze the icing out on the cupcake. I make a big circle on top of the cupcake and then continue spiraling until it’s the height I want.


Depending on how much frosting you use for the cupcakes, you may have extra leftover because it makes a lot (oh darn). Here’s some good uses for it:

-Sandwich it in between a sliced banana for a chocolate banana treat

-Put a tablespoon or two in your coffee for a fancy chocolate creamer

-Use it as a dip for any extra strawberries

-Eat it right from the bowl 😉

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  1. Avatar

    They are great!!!!
    Allergic to strawberries, but they also work great w/ bananas or blueberries!
    Thank you!!!

  2. Avatar

    Goooood Lord these look good. I will definitely be trying these. My boys school is a peanut free classroom & Nana (my Mom) is on a gluten free diet so these are perfect!! Thanks so much! http://www.colorushealthy.com

  3. Avatar

    Oh these look divine!

    Coconut flour is really hard to come by where I am (and VERY expensive when you do find it!) do you think groundalmonds/almond flour would work?

    I may have a play around with the icing~ I’m strictly no refined sugar so can’t have dark chocolate. Cocoa and honey might work though…what do you think?

    Thanks for the recipe!
    ~Kaz x

    • Primally Inspired

      Thanks Kaz!! 🙂

      Coconut flour is very unusual compared to other flours. It absorbs A TON of liquid (always need a ton of liquid and little flour in coconut flour recipes) so equal substitutes do not work, which is a big bummer.

      I’ve seen a lot of almond flour cupcake recipes on the web, so you might want to do a quick google search and see if something catches your eye. You can follow their recipe and then just stick the strawberry in the cupcake like these 🙂

      Cocoa and honey is a great substitute for rich dark chocolate!!
      Here’s a recipe on how to do that:

      Hope that helps a little. Thanks for writing in!!

      • Avatar

        Oh I didn’t know that about coconut flour~ thanks for the info and the link! It helps mega loads ta 😀

        I mastered almond flour cookies, so I might be brave and try to come up with a cupcake recipe myself *watch this space*

        Thanks again <3
        ~Kaz x

  4. Avatar

    So cute! I know what I’m making for my daughters classroom party! She LOVES strawberries and will be so surprised when she sees this 🙂

  5. Avatar

    When do you put the vanilla in for the icing? Thanks 🙂

  6. Avatar

    I shared these treats with my fellow paleo-eating Crossfitters. YUM!

  7. Avatar

    Attempted to make these tonight and they were a total fail. The cupcakes were golden outside but raw and soggy on the inside and the icing took forever to stiffen and then the chocolate was turning into a liquid and separating from the cream. I am so sad, they all got tossed 🙁
    Not sure what I did wrong, I am a pretty decent cook and baker.

    • Primally Inspired

      Oh no Nadine. I am so so sorry!! I hate to hear that.
      Coconut flour can be so frustrating to cook with. A lot of people say most coconut flour recipes are really dry, so I use a lot of liquid to make it really moist as a way to combat that dryness. In some cases, the finished baked product can be put in the fridge if it seems too moist and that seems to firm it up. Depending on varying oven temps, some people have also said they needed to cook some of my coconut bread recipes longer (cover with foil so the tops don’t burn).

      I have no idea what to say about that icing 🙁 That’s my go-to icing and I’m so sorry it didn’t work out for you. Sometimes the brand of coconut milk has A LOT to do with the finished product. If it contains a lot of water and is a thin coconut milk, it will not whip. The coconut milk cream that I use to whip (Thai Kitchen usually) when refrigerated is almost completely hard and solid. Again, I am so sorry it didn’t work out. Big bummer 🙁

      Do you happen to live in a high altitude place? For some reason, it seems that coconut flour is an entirely whole different beast with high altitude locations.

  8. Avatar

    I made these over the weekend and am making a second batch for the kids to take to school for tomorrow! We all loved them and the kids went crazy over the strawberry surprise. Great idea!

  9. Avatar

    I dont have coconut flour, but i do have normal flour, and some coconut. Would they work together?

    • Primally Inspired

      I’m not sure, to be honest. I do know that you can’t substitute the same measurements for coconut flour as you do for regular flour. If I were you, I’d find a good cupcake recipe with regular flour, try that and just add the strawberry in 🙂

  10. Avatar

    Is there a suitable substitute for the honey?

  11. Avatar

    I’m allergic to coconut. What other flour do you suggest?

  12. Avatar

    How cute are these!! 😀 Can’t wait to try!

  13. Avatar

    Do you have a non-chocolate version of your frosting recipe? My daughter cannot have chocolate.

  14. Avatar

    I’m allergic to eggs. Has anyone tried flax eggs or any other substitutions? Thanks!

  15. Avatar

    Beautiful! I saw a cupcake pan with little spikes in the middle to hold the “surprise” inside the cupcake. I suppose a strawberry might turn to mush if you actually baked it in there, but I was thinking about experimenting with it … have you seen this?

    Looks delicious!

  16. Avatar

    Help! The batter and icing both say add coconut oil. How much am I supposed to add to the cupcake and how much should I add to the icing?

  17. Avatar

    I made a “Test recipe” of these for my daughter’s upcoming birthday party… LOVED the frosting, it was so good, and the cupcake flavor was really good too. However in mine, I found that the top was nice and fluffy and delicious but the bottom half… I wouldn’t say was undercooked but almost like the oil had “sunk” to the bottom or something. I don’t have a lot of experience with gluten-free cooking and was wondering how you would recommend adjusting for this next time… Cutting back on the oil? Maybe not totally melting the coconut oil first? or a little longer cook time? I’m stumped. I really like the ingredients and recipe and am willing to test it a couple more times between now and the party (it’d be nice to have a go-to gluten free cake recipe I can use), I just am wondering if you have any suggestions.

    • Primally Inspired

      Hi Heather! Hmmm! I haven’t made this recipe in awhile (it was one of my firsts!), but I’m going to play around with it tonight and tomorrow and see what I can come up with. It’s perfect timing because my husband’s birthday is tomorrow and this will be a good excuse to make him some cupcakes 🙂 I’ve learned quite a few tricks in the couple of years since I posted this. I think there could possibly be too much liquid in the recipe and it’s a possibility that they may have just needed to cook a bit longer. I wouldn’t lessen the amount of oil only because coconut flour baked goods have a reputation of being dry unless they have enough oil (but there’s a fine line — too much oil and the results could get soggy – not enough oil and the result is too dry. Ahhh, the joys of gluten free baking lol). I am probably going to try and cut the liquid back to 1/2 cup. I will do that tonight and I’ll let you know how it turns out! We’ll get this right in time for your daughter’s birthday party 🙂

      • Avatar

        Wow! Thanks for such a great response. I’m going to try another test batch too using all Almond milk for the cupcakes and not the liquid from coconut milk… since that was kind of thick / syrupy it might not cook out as much as straight almond milk would. I also will probably do a few different times on them. I’ll let you know how mine goes too!

        Happy Birthday to your honey!


        • Primally Inspired

          Hi Heather! So here’s my first update – I tried 2 batches so far. The first one I decreased the liquid to 1/2 cup and I used the SO delicious unsweetened coconut milk. They were still plenty moist and turned out great (I updated the recipe to reflect using just 1/2 cup instead of 1 cup of liquid). I do feel like I could even decrease the oil to maybe 2 or 3 tablespoons and they would still be fine. The second batch, I still just used 1/2 cup liquid, but I added in 1/2 cup tapioca flour with the coconut flour. They came out great, too and more dense (not as oily) and rose beautifully. I really liked that batch. So that’s an option that works really well, too that you could try – add 1/2 cup of tapioca flour or arrowroot starch (they are interchangeable for recipes like this) along with the coconut flour. I’m going to make a 3rd batch using all coconut flour and reducing the oil. I’ll let you know how that one goes 🙂 Oh! One more thing! Remove the cupcakes out of the muffin tin as soon as possible – sometimes leaving them in there too long is the cause of soggy bottoms 🙂

    • Avatar

      Hey Heather! For me I always have a problem adding in the coconut oil when it asked because all the other ingredients are cold so it turns it back to harder chunks. What I did to melt them back was boil some water on the stove (small or large pan doesnt matter as long as your bowl fits on top of it) then place the bowl on top and just keep stirring and smashing the coconut oil chunks until everything is smooth and as long as you stay by it and keep stirring it doesnt take more than a few minutes and your cupcakes are super creamy and easy to place into the liners to bake up!

  18. Avatar

    These are hands down the BEST cupcakes I’ve ever had in my LIFE and they were Paleo <3 I am super excited to have tried them. I made up 2 batches and took them to work and got a couple other people addicted as well! I will NEVER make another cupcake besides these again!

    Thank you so so so so so much for this recipe!

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