Snowed In: Brown Velvet Cupcakes and Creamy Not-Cheese Frosting

If you’ve ever been to Northern Virginia when it’s snowing, then you know it’s best to stay at home.  There’s a sense of manic panic here that I can’t imagine could be found in any other major metropolitan area that should be expecting snow.

If you think I’m exaggerating, I’m sure you can find plenty of friends on blogs, Facebook or Twitter to tell you about their usual 30 minute turned 8 hour commute home from work yesterday.

So, in the spirit of efficiency our family hunkered down and has been enjoying being “snowed-in.”  Cole has a SEVEN day weekend for about 9 inches worth of snow.  For a boy who doesn’t like being cold, this means quite a few indoor projects.  With the most gluten sensitive tummy in the house, he loves picking up Elana’s Cookbook and choosing a recipe to bake.  But today, Mommy and Cole chose to make something special she’s been craving for nearly 9 months: red velvet cake.

I’ve been searching and searching for a grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free version of my old favorite, but haven’t had much luck.  So, after some research today we (Cole, Finian and our friend Bre) gave it a shot and were more than pleased with the results.  If you want to add food coloring, we recommend this brand. However, it’s the cocoa powder and vinegar that give red velvet it’s classic flavorings, not red dye #40.

Originally red velvet cake was called that from the faint red hue they had from a chemical reaction between baking soda, cocoa, buttermilk and vinegar. Only later (not surprisingly) did we add red dye in order to achieve the affect without the recipes needing to be so delicate.  Without buttermilk or food coloring, this is by no means “red” – but the flavor is amazing and satisfies my red velvet cravings. It’s even great as a cake, as seen in our German Chocolate Cake Ball recipe!



Brown Velvet Cupcakes



  1. Beat wet ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together until incorporated.
  3. Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients until fully combined.
  4. Batter will be pretty wet, but thick enough to coat a spoon. Scoop a scant 1/4 cup of batter into lined muffin tin (we recommend silicon liners because nut flours stick to paper).
  5. Bake at 350 degree for 20 minutes, or until tops are browned and no longer "squishy."
  6. Let cool completely and top with our Creamy Not Cheese Frosting (below) or Vanilla Bean Frosting (pictured below)


Batter won’t rise much so it’s up to you how full you’d like to make them. We personally use a scant 1/4 cup and leave a lip of the wrapper for icing. If you’d prefer them to be full, then use a heaping 1/4 cup and allow to cook 22 minutes (will then make less than 2 dozen cupcakes).

While waiting for the cupcakes to bake, make the icing.  We tried out our own version of a cashew icing to go with it.  I can’t say it quite as good as cream cheese frosting, but it was incredibly rich and delicious nonetheless.


Creamy Not-Cheese Frosting



  1. In a food processor or VitaMix (don’t we wish) combine all ingredients.
  2. Mix well, scrape the sides and pulse (repeat as necessary) until smooth.
  3. If mixture does not yet resemble a frosting-like texture (as seen below), pulse in 1 Tablespoon Coconut Milk or Almond Milk (or any milk) a teaspoon at a time until rich and creamy.
  4. If you want to make it a bit more fancy, fill a piping bag with a wide tip (or cashew pieces will get stuck). Pipe, and enjoy!


Both the cupcake batter and icing make 24 cupcakes.

Note: This post and recipe have been edited. For those of you wondering why, our old recipe used agave (which we don’t eat anymore) and was poorly written to boot! Plus, the photos didn’t do the cupcakes the justice they deserved (below).

About Stacy

Stacy Toth has written 450 post in this blog.

Stacy is the matriarch of the Paleo Parents family. After beginning a paleo diet and founding in 2010, she lost 135 pounds and found health and happiness for the whole family. The following three years have been a progressive journey with a mission to educate people about nourishing their bodies by eating real foods. Stacy can be found on all forms of social media as @PaleoParents as well as the top-rated The Paleo View Podcast and her two cookbooks, Eat Like a Dinosaur and Beyond Bacon.

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  • Charity Dasenbrock

    Do you know you can get beet powder to add some color ? Not that gacky fake food red of commercial red velvet cakes but a rich purply red. I think I have seen that you occasionally go to WF. I saw the powder there the other day and you can get it on line. I think beets and chocolate are a great combination.

    • Stacy & Matt

      We’ve actually updated the recipe since then and now use roasted beets in the recipe. We’ll update soon.

      • Stacy

        It doesn’t look like you ever got around to updating the recipe with the roasted beets. I know how life gets, but I’m VERY interested in that recipe for my son’s birthday in February! Please do share!

        • Stacy & Matt

          The updated recipe is in our cookbook, Eat Like a Dinosaur :)

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  • Deborah Parker

    How long should they cook for? What if you want to make a cake instead of cupcakes?

    • Stacy & Matt

      Ack! Oh darn, we’ll have to make these again to see… sorry about that! This is an oldie from before we our recipe skills had improved to a first grade level ;)

      I’m going to guess 350 for about 20 minutes. We’ll make them soon (to test) and update the post. Sorry!!

      If you want to make a cake (like we did for the german chocolate cake balls) it works fine. Just cook it longer, probably 30-40 minutes (I did put the time on that one at least!

    • Stacy & Matt

      We tested them this evening and can confirm 350 degrees for 20 minutes! Thanks!

  • Nmassotto

    Love the “I don’t eat crap” shirt! Where did you get it?

    • Stacy & Matt

      It’s a Primal Palate shirt and we got it from here.

    • domestickrys

      Love it, I was just about to ask the same!!!

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  • Amanda

    I see that you mention a change away from using agave, I am curious as to why?

  • Robin

    Thank you so much for your wonderful recipes!!  It’s so great to see the movement from eating crap to eating healthy, whole foods paleo style!!  I’m in love with this new eating style and feel better and more energetic than I have in years!  I’m trying to slowly transition my 3 young boys over to this, one recipe at a time and your site has made the jump easier!!  So a huge thank you!  In a weak moment 2 days ago I indulged in a sandwich since it had been months since I’d consumed bread, so not worth it because I woke up with a headache that lasted all day!  Will not be doing that again…  On a side note, what brand of almond flour do you use?  I’ve been researching and found a lot of people like Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour and I thought I’d ask you before committing to a 5 pound bag!   :) 

    • Stacy & Matt

      Yep! That’s our brand too! Check out the sidebar for our link direct to honeyville!

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  • Kati Hereford

    Can anyone tell me if these are ok to make ahead? I’m going back to my hometown next weekend to celebrate my birthday. I’m the only one that’s paleo so I’m going to make theses to take, but I have three different events over 2 days so I want to make sure they will keep well :) thanks!

    • Stacy & Matt

      We’ve made them ahead with no issues

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  • Emily

    I love this! One of my roommates made “red” velvet paleo cupcakes for my birthday last year with a beet cake recipe. The cream cheese frosting was made with honey (not so paleo). I can’t wait to try these. Definitely not going to wait for my b-day though. :-D

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