Allergen-Free and Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes via Debbie Adler


I started this blog almost 2 years ago as a way to share information and resources for living with food allergies and celiac disease. In addition to chronicling my journey trough culinary school and now life as a chef and recipe developer, I often like to share resources I feel can be useful to others managing these issues for themselves or their families. There are a lot of us out there. FARE estimates there are 15 million people with food allergies. The NFCA states there are 3 million living with celiac disease in the US, although many go diagnosed.

We are not alone. However, it sure may feel that way sometimes. As a parent of children with both food allergies and celiac disease and someone who has celiac disease, I know the feeling of isolation accompanying these issues firsthand. After beginning this journey as an advocate and blogger, I received an unexpected gift. I began to connect with so many others who have a similar passion and drive to help our community. Debbie Adler is one of those people.

Debbie reached out to me a few weeks ago and told me about her bakery in California and her cookbook. She sent me a copy of the book along with a care package of yummy allergen-free treats to taste with my family. It is notable to share that this was the first time my entire family was able to eat something from a bakery. All of the gluten-free treats we come across are contaminated with nuts and all of the nut-free treats have gluten. That is why I am always baking away at home. There really are no fresh baked options for our family! Debbie’s treats are allergen-free, vegan and refined sugar free to boot.

I am so happy Debbie offered to share her Chocoholic Cupcake recipe here with us today. I also wanted to share her story so you could learn more about the incredible heart behind it and realize there is one more of us allergy moms out there working hard to make a difference. Here is Debbie’s story:

I started my bakery in 2006 because I was hungry.  To be more specific, I was craving a sweet dessert that didn’t contain refined sugar. There was nothing on the market at the time that fit my needs, so I decided to create it myself.

So I went to Whole Foods and found the aisle with the all-natural, low-glycemic sweeteners such as xylitol, maltitol, erythritol – all the tols, the agave and coconut nectars and stevia, and took them home.  I didn’t know what I was doing at first, but like I said, I was hungry.

Six months later, delicious cupcakes were finally coming out of the oven, along with brownies, cookies and muffins. They were so good, that I decided I had to share. That was when I decided to give birth, for the first time, to my bakery, that I named Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes.

It turns out other people were hungry, too, and my bakery became popular very quickly. Gwyneth Paltrow was my first celebrity customer and then Felicity Huffman, Bill Macy, Emily Deschanel, Ray Romano, Ken Olin and others followed. I started shipping nationwide.

But then, in 2008, I gave birth again – this time to my son. All throughout my pregnancy, the medical community kept warning me about all the terrifying things that might happen, since they considered me to be an elderly pregnant person at the ripe old age of 45.  So like any garden variety, neurotic Jewish person, I worried for nine months about things that never occurred. Thankfully.

But, one day after he had just turned one, I gave my son a taste of a frozen yogurt. Twenty minutes later he went into full-blown anaphylactic shock. This means his body was rejecting the protein (casein) from the dairy in the yogurt and his systems started to shut down. He collapsed in my arms barely able to breathe.

I was not prepared for this since I had no idea my son was allergic to anything. I realized then, that no one had warned me about the possibility that my son would have food allergies. Out of all the things they told me to worry about, this was not one of them. I had no epi pen or Benadryl. Luckily, 911 came in time to save my son’s life.

After having him tested, it turns out my son is allergic to practically everything in the USDA food pyramid, except salt. So I had to relearn how to safely cook and bake for him so he’d be able to eat.

When I learned that there are millions of other children that suffer the same fate as my son, I decided to reformulate the recipes from my bakery to make them dairy-free, egg-free, peanut and tree-nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free and as always sugar-free.

So in 2009, I reopened Sweet Debbie’s as a completely allergy-free and gluten-free bakery. It turns out, people were really hungry for this, too. But due to the high cost of shipping, not all who wanted it were able to partake.

I sat down in 2010 to write all my recipes down in a book so that anyone who needed and wanted to make allergy-free treats for their kids and themselves, could do so.

On October 29th, 2013 my third child, Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-free & Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery was born a healthy 14.4 ounces. My cookbook contains all the recipes from my bakery and then some, including chapters on energy bars, donut holes and breads.

Jackie has gracefully invited me to share one of the recipes with you today. It’s for my addictive Chocoholic Cupcakes.  Thank you so very much for having me here and please get in touch with any questions you may have. Let’s  get baking! xo Debbie

Allergen-Free Chocolate Cupcakes via @OrganicCupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
  • Cupcakes
  • 12 standard-size paper baking cups
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain rice milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • ⅓ cup cacao powder
  • 1¼ teaspoons sodium-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon guar gum
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • ¼ cup coconut nectar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅜ teaspoon stevia powder
  • ⅓ cup vegan, soy-free plain yogurt (I use So Delicious coconut milk yogurt)
  • Chocolate Frosting
  • 1 cup coconut nectar (I use Coconut Secret brand found in Whole Foods and Amazon)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup mashed avocado
  • 2 cups powdered erythritol (I use Swerve brand found on Amazon)
  • 1 cup cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • ¼ teaspoon stevia powder (I use KAL brand found on Amazon)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a standard 12-cup cupcake tin with paper baking cups.
  2. Mix together the rice milk and apple cider vinegar in a 2-cup measuring cup.
  3. Whisk together the flour, cacao powder, baking powder, baking soda, guar gum and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle.
  4. Add the grapeseed oil, coconut nectar, vanilla and stevia to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Next add the rice milk mixture and stir until the liquid is absorbed and the batter is smooth. Stir in the yogurt.
  5. Pour the batter into the measuring cup, as the spout will make it easier to pour the batter into the cupcake tin without spillage.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake tin, dividing it evenly. Each cup should be about two-thirds full. Bake the cupcakes for 16 to 17 minutes, or until they bounce back slightly to the touch. Rotate the cupcake tin from front to back after 10 minutes of baking.
  7. Transfer the cupcake tin from the oven to a wire rack and let sit for 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes to cool completely.
  8. To make the chocolate frosting, mix together the coconut nectar, coconut oil and mashed avocado in a large bowl. Add the powdered erythritol, cacao powder, warm water, stevia and salt and stir until smooth and well combined.
  9. Frost the completely cooled cupcakes.
  10. Keep unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or wrap and freeze them for up to 3 months. Leftover frosting keeps in the fridge for about 4 weeks if stored in an airtight container.

Debbie Adler

Debbie Adler is the owner of the nationally renown, gluten-free bakery Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes located in Los Angeles.  It is the first bakery in the United States to make allergy-free baked goods that contain certified organic ingredients and are sweetened only with stevia and coconut nectar.

In addition to owning her bakery, Debbie is also the author of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-free & Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery. It was named a “Best Gluten-Free Cookbook of 2013” by Delicious Living Magazine  a “Favorite Book” by Living Without Magazine, and a “Best Vegan Cookbook of 2013” by Green Vegan Living.

Debbie Adler is the co-founding group leader of the San Fernando Valley Food Allergy Support Group, an organization that provides resources and educational tools to local families that have children with severe food allergies.

Debbie has been interviewed on NBC’s Nightly News, ABC-7’s Eyewitness News, CBS’ Los Angeles News and the nationally syndicated WGN’s Lunchbreak.  

Debbie has been featured in the Los Angeles Times and on NPR’s radio show Here and Now. Her recipes have been published in national magazines such as Allergic Living, Living Without, Simply Gluten-Free, Delight Gluten-Free, Pilates Style and Low Sugar Living, as well as on popular websites and blogs such as Fox News Magazine, Parents Magazine, Self, The Chalkboard, InStyle Online, E! and the websites for food companies such as So Delicious Dairy Free, Sambazon and Navitas Naturals. Please visit for more information.

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