I am slowly getting the hang of gluten-free baking, after some true disasters. I'll spare you - they were ugly with a capital U. There are some big issues with gluten-free baking. It is quite frustrating that cakes, cookies and whatnot can be so dry. Those non-gluten flours just don't have the same luscious moistness of wheat, and baked goods go stale in a blink.
Nothing quite as disappointing as biting into a dry, sawdust-like lump.
I've snooped around the interwebs and found a few different approaches to dealing with this - adding fruit in some form to moisten the mixture, adding lots of eggs or fat to give it a better texture.
Eating stuff fast.
One interesting tactic is to use food-grade glycerine. I don't see this on any US websites, but I found a UK cookbook that uses it (at TJ Maxx of all places). Glycerine, by the way, comes from vegetable oil, and while you may be more used to seeing it in beauty products, it is also used in royal icing or fondant to give a good texture and smoothness.
Exactly the same reason why we put it on our face, actually.
Being a bit of an experimentalist, I decided to give it a try. I had some food-grade glycerine lying around, I think for some misguided desire to make fondant that never came about. My recipe is based on one from the 2010 United Kingdom Gluten-Free Chef of the Year Michael McCamley ...nope, I'd never heard of him or Gluten-Free Chef of the Year before, either. I hope they gave him a spiffy crown or something.
I used a flour mix from GFG&C, because I had that mixed up already, instead of the flour mix from the book (cunningly named Gluten Free Baking, and with a very luxurious gold gleaming cover. I like me a swanky book cover.) My mix has 200 g sorgum, 200 g millet, 300 g sweet rice and 300 g potato starch, btw.
These babies were nice and chocolatey, baked up into a shapely dome, had a moist texture, and almost miraculously stayed fresh for a good 4 days.
4 days! Un-freakin-believable.
You can find food-grade glycerine at cooking supply stores or online. If they sell it in a drugstore in the vicinity of the bandages, it ain't food grade, people.
Feel free to add up to 1/2 cup of chopped nuts if that floats your boat.
Chocolate Cupcakes, gluten-free.
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon food-grade glycerine*
1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup gluten-free unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups gluten-free flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners, or grease and flour the bejeasus out of it (GF baking sticks like a mofo).
Beat together the sugar, glycerine and butter in a large bowl until creamed and fluffy.
Mix the eggs in one at a time, beating well between each egg.
Sift the cocoa powder and remaining dry ingredients into the bowl, and mix gently together.
(Here's where to add the nuts if you want.)
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when gently pressed. Remove the cupcakes and cool on a wire rack.
Store in a sealed container for up to 4 days.