Sour Cherry Pistachio Cupcakes, Gluten Free


Most Parisians wander out daily for a fresh baguette or vegetables, but not us. We’d go out every day for chocolate. We would wander into La Maison du Chocolat near La Madeleine, a short walk from our apartment in Paris. Every day for three months the same clerk would discreetly greet us like we’d never been in there before.

The exchange went something like this. Heads would nod. Bonjours would be exchanged. I’d ask in my badly accented French if the clerk spoke English. The clerk would respond with a head shake and a sad expression he did not. I’d point to the chocolate. He’d nod and box it up. I’d pay. We both would say merci and au revoir. And the next day it began all over again.

At the end of three months it was time to return to America, but I wasn’t going without my La Maison du Chocolat favorite. That would be the Jolika, a marzipan pistachio flavored dark  chocolate-covered tiny confection. I asked the clerk – who still behaved discreetly pretending he’d never seen me before- for an entire box of Jolika – I practiced the phrase for days. But the clerk just looked at me like I was as mad as a hatter. The boxes were created to fit certain arrangements and it isn’t like a Godiva boutique where any chocolate fits into the whatever-you-select slot.

But though the clerk was clearly flummoxed beyond measure, I wasn’t giving up. I was not flying home without a sufficient quantity of Jolika. My bad French was not making any sense, so I mimed. I pretended to hold a box and using an invisible tiny tong I pointed to the Jolika and pantomimed filling the box. By now all the clerks were clustered watching me make a fool of myself.

Since this was not my first week in Paris, I was already used to looking like an idiot and beyond the point of being embarrassed (so many stories). The clerks clustered in a small group with their backs to me. I could hear them muttering in French and I was sure not one word was a four-letter one. But I could be wrong. Eventually it took three clerks to put a dozen or so little Jolika into a box. And the lid never really closed.

Any wagers on whether they broke out the champagne when they realized I wasn’t coming back?

These Sour Cherry Pistachio Cupcakes were created in honor of the little Jolika chocolate. For a chocolate tasting experience La Maison du Chocolat recommends a swig of sour cherry brandy  prior to eating the Jolika. Which of course made me think of a cupcake.

Much like everything makes me think of a cupcake.  I know. Surprise, huh?

Sour Cherry Pistachio Cupcakes, Gluten Free
Pistachio Almond Paste Mixture
  • 90 grams (1/2 cup plus one tablespoon) roasted pistachio kernels
  • 93 grams (1/3 cup packed) GF Almond Paste, cut into small chunks
  • 125 grams granulated sugar (1/2 cup plus one tablespoon)
  • 175 grams GF AP flour (87 grams superfine brown rice flour, 44 grams each superfine white rice flour and tapioca flour/starch) (1⅓ cups)
  • All the pistachio almond paste mixture (above)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 130 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (9 tablespoons)
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 120 grams whole milk (about ½ cup)
  • 2 tablespoons Cherry Liqueur (like Luxardo)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 125 grams sour cherry spread or jam, stirred until somewhat liquified
Sour Cherry Buttercream
  • 145 grams unsalted butter, room temperature (10 tablespoons)
  • 130 grams sour cherry fruit spread or jam, strained (about ½ cup)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Cherry Liqueur (Luxardo)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 550 grams powdered sugar, sifted (about 5 cups)
  • 90 grams roasted pistachio kernels, coarsely hand chopped (heaping ½ cup)
Pistachio Almond Paste Mixture
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is combined and finely ground. Set aside.
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place cupcake liners in a muffin pan (about 12-14). Set aside.
  2. In a medium large mixing bowl combine flour, pistachio almond paste mixture, baking powder, salt, baking soda and whisk to combine. In a microwave safe glass container, melt butter and cool slightly. Add eggs, milk, cherry liqueur, vanilla and almond extract. Whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and using a hand-held mixer combine ingredients until smooth and well mixed. Add sour cherry spread and marble the batter just slightly. As the batter is scooped, it will marble more, so less is more when it comes to stirring the cherry spread into the batter.
  3. Scoop into liners about ⅔ full. Bake 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Cool for a few minutes. Remove cupcakes to a rack and cool completely before frosting.
Sour Cherry Buttercream
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whip attachment, mix the soft butter with the sour cherry fruit spread. Add the cherry liqueur, vanilla and almond extracts. Combine. Add the sifted powdered sugar and mix on low until almost combined and then turn the mixer to medium high-high to whip until light and fluffy. Check the texture of the buttercream. If it is too stiff, add one teaspoon of water at a time until it is just right. If it is too goopy, add two tablespoons of sifted powdered sugar as needed just until it seems the right piping consistency. It will get more stiff as it sits. Pipe or use a spatula to apply to cooled cupcakes.
  1. Hand chop pistachios and sprinkle on freshly piped buttercream. If you wait too long the pistachios will not adhere because the buttercream starts to set almost immediately. I like to pipe a few at a time and apply the pistachios right away. Frost a few more and add the pistachios until all the cupcakes are decorated.


  1. I love your story! It’s hilarious and so, so true! I lived in Paris for almost a year, and even though I speak French, the cultural divide is still huge. The recipe looks amazing–combines two of my favorite things in the whole wide world–and I will have to make it! Thank you!
    P.S. I’ve been lurking on your blog for many months now, and everything I’ve made has been spot-on delicious. <3

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Thank you, Pamela! So glad you are enjoying the blog & recipes. Though I still have more embarrassing story moments in Paris, I still love that city. But you are so right. Huge cultural divide, still.

  2. Linda Stoddard says:

    Sour cherry pistachie cupcakes? GF? You’re in my will.

  3. thank you so much

  4. These sound delicious and very elegant. Well done you for keeping at it until you got the box of chocolates you wanted!


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