Chocolate Creme Brulee Cupcakes


This decadent recipe for creme brulee cupcakes was a runner-up in the Go Dairy Free / ZenSoy recipe contest held in 2011. We thought it definitely deserved revisiting. I mean, just look at these!

Chocolate Creme Brulee Cupcakes Recipe - amazingly dairy-free! Moist, tender chocolate cupcakes, creme brulee filling and a rich "buttercream" frosting

The recipe and photos are by Erica:

I took a batch of these in to work one day and they were a huge hit! No one could even tell that they were dairy free!!

Chocolate Creme Brulee Cupcakes - amazingly dairy-free! Moist, tender chocolate cupcakes, creme brulee filling and a rich "buttercream" frosting

Special Diet Notes & Options: Creme Brulee Cupcakes

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, nut-free, peanut-free, and vegetarian.

For soy-free creme brulee cupcakes, you can use the coconut cream option in the crème brulee, your favorite dairy-free, soy-free milk alternative in place of the soymilk in the cupcakes and frosting, and be sure to use a soy-free margarine (such as Earth Balance) and shortening (such as Spectrum Palm Shortening) in the frosting.

Eggs are a key component in this recipe. If you confuse eggs with dairy, you are not alone. See this post: Are Eggs Dairy? For an egg-free creme brulee, see this recipe: Vegan Creme Brulee.

This recipe hasn’t been tested gluten-free. Both the crème brulee and the frosting are gluten-free. You can trial the cupcakes gluten-free with your favorite gluten-free flour blend (one preferably with a binder such as xanthan gum) or use your favorite gluten-free chocolate cupcakes recipe. But again, we haven’t tested it yet. Feel free to share results in the comments if you trial the recipe gluten-free!

Chocolate Crème Brulée Cupcakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The Crème Brulée
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla bean paste or 1-1/2 tsp. french vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of coconut cream or blended tofu, chilled
  • ½ cup of white sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks (at room temperature)
  • 8 tsp. of raw sugar granules (set aside for top of frosting)
The Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 1¾ cups of all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cups of cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. of baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. of baking soda
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of soymilk (such as ZenSoy organic Soymilk – plain, vanilla, chocolate, or cappuccino)
  • ½ cup of melted dairy free margarine
  • 2 tsp. of french vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of boiling water
The Buttercream Frosting
  • ½ cup of shortening
  • ½ cup of dairy free margarine
  • 3-1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. of french vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup of soymilk [such as ZenSoy organic Soymilk - plain or vanilla]
The Crème Brulée
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300°F and prepare water bath.
  2. Note: Prepare custard several hours before to give it time to cool completely.
  3. Combine vanilla bean paste, ½ of the coconut cream or blended tofu, all the white sugar, and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir every now and then to prevent the coconut cream or blended tofufrom scorching or forming a skin.
  4. Once boiled, remove the pan from heat and let sit for 15 minutes.
  5. Add in the remaining coconut cream or blended tofu to cool down the mixture, stirring continuously. Whisk the egg yolks together in a separate large bowl until smooth. While whisking eggs, slowly add in the cream mixture; be sure it is cooled so you don’t scramble the yolks.
  6. Pour into the ramekins filling almost full. Place a roasting or cake pan onto oven rack. Place custard filled ramekins into the pan. Add boiling water into the pan until about ⅔ of the way up the sides of the ramekins, being careful not to splash water into ramekins.
  7. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until custard wiggles a bit when moved (about 170°F temperature reading of custard).
  8. Move ramekins to cooling rack and cool to room temperature (about 2 hours).
  9. Prepare cupcakes as custard cools.
  10. Note: If storing in fridge overnight, place plastic wrap directly on custard surface to prevent skinning. If any skin does form during cooling, skim the top skin off, just so that the filling is as creamy as possible.
The Chocolate Cupcakes
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line 25-30 muffin cups and set aside.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a large bowl.
  3. Add wet ingredients (eggs, soymilk, melted “butter”, and french vanilla) and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
  4. Note: You’re going to end up filling the muffin tins halfway full. First, fill muffin tins ¼ full. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the prepared and cooled crème brulée on top of the cupcake mix, directly in the center. Add muffin mix on top of crème brulée until cup is half full.
  5. Bake 22-25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Note: Pick will not come out clean if inserted directly in the center due to filling. Insert slightly offset from the center in order to check the doneness of the cupcake.
  6. When finished, remove from pans to cooling racks. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
The Buttercream Frosting
  1. Beat the shortening and margarine together until fluffy.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and beat for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the french vanilla and soy milk and beat for another 5-7 minutes, until fluffy.
FINAL PREP (where it all comes together!)
  1. Generously frost each cupcake; use a piping bag with your choice of tip to add character.
  2. Finish each frosted cupcake with a sprinkle of raw sugar.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


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