Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guest Post: Gluten Free Coconut Cocoa Nib Cupcakes

While I'm off gallivanting across the Canadian landscape, I've gathered a few guest posters for your reading enjoyment. Today, I'm pleased to present my friend, Gibbs. I met Gibbs through our mutual friend Brianna last summer. Brianna informed me of this friend of hers who made delicious vegan cupcakes and I knew right then and there Gibbs and I would definitely hit it off. Although not a vegan herself, Gibbs has quite a few friends that are, and she also caters to her gluten-free pals, so her cupcakes are almost always suitable for me to eat. Take a look at the blog that she co-writes here.

And now, please join me in welcoming Gibbs!

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Geanna, sometimes I have terrible ideas.

Really, genuinely, and unexpectedly awful ideas.

Vegan browned butter?  That is one of them.  Everyone, Earth Balance is a wonderful thing to make delicious vegan foods with, but as much as it's the best vegan stand-in for butter I've ever baked with, it does not brown well. It smells terrible, looks terrible, and tastes so all-encompassingly bad I am awed.  I'm not even sure how a vegan "buttery stick" can ever manage to come to smell like the oil someone fried fish in last Monday and it's been sitting in my kitchen growing progressively staler.  I just don't know.

On the bright side, once I learned this important lesson about Earth Balance, everything turned out well.

Gluten Free Coconut Cocoa Nib Cupcakes 
(with Coffee Buttercream Frosting, because I apparently can't resist the drive to alliterate everything)

Ingredients:
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup coconut oil (or canola, whatever you have)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (or almond or more vanilla, whatever)
1 cup gluten-free flour mix
1/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup white rice flour (or another 1/3 cup of the GF flour.  I guess you could use all GF AP flour, but I like the texture nut meal gives cupcakes)
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350' and line your cupcake pan. 
Soften the coconut oil by putting the jar into a pan and warming over low heat. My house is ridiculously cold, so the coconut milk was basically a solid mass in the can, and I put it in the warm water bath with the oil.

While that's happening, measure out the flours, meal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum, and mix together until everything looks about even (unlike below, which is just what the flours and meal look like together).


Anyhow, in a bowl separate from the flour bowl, whisk together the extracts, coconut milk, oil, and sugar, and then dump in the flour and mix thoroughly.  Since there's no gluten, mix well and until you're sure everything is well-combined (otherwise, there will be a wonky texture).

Fill the cupcake pan or liners about 2/3 full.  If the last cupcake(s) are a little skimpy, poach a little batter from the other cupcakes to top it off (since they're gluten-free, this won't make the cupcakes peak and fall when they bake) and bake for 22-24 minutes, depending on the quirks of your oven. 

When a knife or other pokey thing inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean, they're ready to take out of the oven.
While they're cooling, it's about the right time to start making the frosting (I decided on Coffee Coconut after it became clear that a vegan browned Earth Balance frosting was most definitely not happening).

Ingredients for Coffee Coconut Frosting:
1/4 cup softened earth balance
3ish cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons almond milk or coconut milk
1 teaspoon coffee extract (or a teaspoon of cooled concentrated coffee or espresso)

Directions:
Beat the Earth Balance until it is soft and smooth, and then beat in the powdered sugar in 1/2 cup at a time.  After 1 cup has been mixed in, add the coconut milk and extract/coffee, and mix until smooth again.  Then beat in powdered sugar until the frosting is stiff enough to hold its form (but not so stiff that spreading it on the cupcakes will tear their delicate little tops).
Ta-da! Delicious cupcakes!  And no disturbingly (mystifyingly) fish-scented substances in sight!

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