Tag Archives: gluten-free frosting

A Birthday Cake for Iris (Vanilla Cake with Carob “Buttercream” Frosting)

A few weeks ago, Iris over at The Daily Dietribe posted a Gluten-Free Birthday Cake challenge. My interest was immediately piqued. While birthday cake isn’t really one of my most favorite of desserts, I realize that for some, it’s practically a food group. There is a special place in Iris’s heart for birthday cake, and it’s my belief that no matter what food intolerances or allergies someone has, they should be able to enjoy those foods they love the most. For a special occasion such as a birthday, Iris ought to be able to enjoy a cake that doesn’t cause pain afterwards. I wanted to give her that cake.

So I started in my kitchen, experimenting. At first I tried to bake with stevia as the only sweetener. The first cake was terribly dense, and not sweet at all. I then attempted to increase egg whites in the batter, almost like an angel food cake, but the cake ended up so rubbery and chewy it was destined for the garbage can as well. The third cake showed promise, as I incorporated coconut nectar as a sweetener, but it was still rather coarse and tough in texture. The final cake, the one I’m showing you here, was the best gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free cake I made to date. The texture was still a wee bit more coarse than a traditional white birthday cake – I used coconut palm sugar, and I believe that had something to do with it – but it tasted good. The 100% fruit black cherry jam filling and carob “buttercream” frosting sealed the deal. Four tries later, I finally had something that would truly be considered “birthday cake”.

Like any cake, this still isn’t health food – the flours are refined, and it’s still sweet, but it’s a treat. (Especially the frosting, which I could have eaten by itself, by the spoonful…) I hope Iris likes it, and has a wonderfully happy birthday. (I wanted to ship a slice to her, but I imagine cake doesn’t travel well.)

Happy Birthday, Iris!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Vanilla Cake

2 eggs

1/3 c coconut milk

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 t almond extract

6 T virgin coconut oil or palm shortening

1/2 c sweet white rice flour

1/3 c plus 1 T tapioca starch

1/3 c potato starch

1/4 t xanthan gum

3/4 c coconut palm sugar

1/2 t salt

1 1/2 t baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake pan and lightly dust with gluten-free flour. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, extracts, and coconut oil. (warm the coconut oil slightly, if it’s solid, by microwaving for 10 seconds in the microwave.) In a large bowl, combine the sweet white rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, xanthan gum, coconut palm sugar, salt, and baking powder. Mix together the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined. Spoon batter into prepared cake pan.

Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan and frosting.

(This recipe makes 1 layer. For a layered cake, double the recipe.)

Carob “Buttercream” Frosting

1/4 c Earth Balance buttery spread or other vegan butter

2 c powdered coconut palm sugar (you can make this by following a recipe from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free by Amy Green – page 180)

2 T coconut milk

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 T carob powder

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, add the buttery spread, half of the powdered coconut palm sugar, the coconut milk, the vanilla, and the carob powder. Turn the mixer on medium speed and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides, until well blended. Add the rest of the powdered coconut palm sugar in batches, whisking in each addition, until the frosting is stiff enough to hold its shape. Frost cake as desired.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian

Kids In The Kitchen: Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes

We were late in our planning for Kids in the Kitchen this weekend. Usually, we know in advance what we’re going to make. However, Brittany was unsure the last time we spoke – she wanted to think about it. So when I picked her up yesterday afternoon, I asked her. “No idea,” she said. But after a minute, she’d already decided on dessert – cake, specifically. What kind of cake? Chocolate? Vanilla? (She’s not much for complicated flavors.) Cupcakes? “Cupcakes!” she said. And almost simultaneously, we knew exactly which cupcakes to make.

You see, these cupcakes have made their appearance in our kitchen several times before. Back in May, I hosted a baby shower for my sister (She had identical twin girls, Zoe and Charlotte, on July 6). We needed gluten-free cupcakes that would be baby shower worthy, so I performed a few trial runs before the big day. Brittany was a taste tester during those runs, and had her fair share the day of the baby shower. I don’t blame her – these cupcakes were tasty. Tasty enough to fool even gluten-lovers. They don’t taste gluten-free.

Today, we went one step further. We made them dairy-free as well. Even the buttercream frosting. Of course, this isn’t to say that they’ve become health food – they’re still sugary and made with starchier, whiter flours. So they’re still a treat. Just a treat that won’t make those of us with gluten and dairy issues sick!

Of course, all of this doesn’t matter so much to Brittany. What she is most concerned with is how they taste. And they taste like cupcakes – sweet, simple, and loved by kids and adults alike.

Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes, adapted from The Baking Beauties

Makes 1 dozen cupcakes, half vanilla, half chocolate

2 eggs

1/3 c coconut milk

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 t almond extract

6 T virgin coconut oil

1/2 c sweet white rice flour

1/3 c plus 1 T tapioca starch

1/3 c potato starch

1/4 t xanthan gum

3/4 c granulated sugar

1/2 t salt

1 1/2 t baking powder

 1 1/2 T cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, extracts, and coconut oil. (warm the coconut oil slightly, if it’s solid, by microwaving for 10 seconds in the microwave.) In a large bowl, combine the sweet white rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, xanthan gum, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Mix together the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined. Spoon batter into 6 of the cupcake papers, filling half-full. Mix in the cocoa powder into the remaining batter, and spoon remaining batter into remaining 6 cupcake papers.

Bake for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, and then remove cupcakes from pan and allow to come to room temperature on a wire rack.

When cool, frost as desired.

Vanilla and Chocolate “Buttercream” Frosting

1/2 c Earth Balance buttery spread (soy-free)

4 c powdered sugar

1/4 c coconut milk

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 t almond extract

1 T cocoa powder

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, add the buttery spread, 2 cups of the powdered sugar, the coconut milk, and the extracts. Turn the mixer on medium speed and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides, until well-blended. Add the rest of the powdered sugar in batches, whisking in each addition, until the frosting is stiff enough to hold its shape.

Frost some of the cupcakes with the vanilla frosting as desired (we frosted the chocolate cupcakes with the vanilla frosting). Add the cocoa powder to the remaining frosting, and whisk in until well-blended. Frost remaining cupcakes with chocolate frosting.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Zucchini Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting

cupcake 003Don’t be alarmed by all of the descriptors. Chances are, if you happened upon these cupcakes, you wouldn’t know that they were without flour. Or dairy. Or even sugar, hardly. Because when you take a bite, they have a perfectly moist, tender crumb. They’re sweet, but not artificially so, as many “sugar-free” treats often are. Cinnamon and nutmeg perfectly compliment the richness of the coconut cream frosting. What’s even better? One cupcake is enough to satisfy. In the world of cakes and sweet treats, this is a rare occurence for me.

The world of gluten-free baking is still quite new to me. So far, most of my baking has relied upon packaged baking mixes (thank you, Pamela’s – your bread mix is heaven!). However, I decided it was time to think “outside the box.” After finding that I had a surplus of zucchini in my kitchen (after all, I can’t resist buying too much sometimes at the farmer’s market!), I decided to bake a quick bread. But not just any old quick bread, I wanted something a bit fancier (without much more work)! Cupcakes – I could make zucchini cupcakes. They would be spiced similarly to carrot cake, in sort of a carrot-meets-zucchini cupcake concoction. Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free posted a carrot cupcake recipe that set off the inspiration for these beauties.

In addition to being gluten-free, I wished for these cupcakes to have a speck of nutrition. Also, knowing that many celiacs and other people cannot have dairy, I wished for them to be dairy-free. I wanted to make something without using cupfuls of sugar, or nutritionless flours. I decided upon agave nectar for the sweetener, and coconut and almond flours in place of regular flour (or a gluten-free baking mix).

Agave nectar is a natural sweetener made from the juice of the agave plant. It has a texture similar to honey and is slightly sweeter than sugar, but unlike so many alternative sweeteners, it is not bitter and does not have an “off” taste. It has a low glycemic index – around 30, substantially lower than sugar, which has a glycemic index of around 65. This makes it a good choice for those watching their blood sugar levels.

Almond flour, specifically blanched almond flour, has been around a long while, but recently came to my attention through Elana at Elana’s Pantry. She bakes only with non-grain-based flours, and typically uses almond flour. In my experiments, I’ve found almond flour to be great for baking – it creates a tender crumb and has a subtly sweet flavor, is very low in carbohydrates and is high in protein. I bought mine through Honeyville, as the almond flour they sell is more finely ground than what I typically could find in stores. As for the coconut flour, I heard about it through Elana as well. It’s also high in fiber and low in carbohydrates. I bought Bob’s Red Mill, and this was easy to find at Whole Foods.

Back to the cupcakes. That’s what you were here for anyway, right? I do want to share that these were substantially sugar-free, and not entirely sugar-free, although they could be easily modified. I used sweetened dried cranberries, and crystallized ginger as mix-ins, but of course, you could leave these out or substitute with things such as unsweetened cranberries, raisins, chopped walnuts, etc.

One of the best aspects of these cupcakes? They were pretty easy to make. You could leave them unfrosted and consider them a muffin for breakfast, or top with frosting for a more decadent treat. They are delicious to share, or perhaps tasty enough that you will need to stow away a few, just for yourself!

For the cupcakes, adapted from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free:

1/2 c light agave nectar

1/3 c virgin coconut oil

2 T water

1/2 t vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

1/2 t ground allspice

1/4 t ground nutmeg

pinch of cloves

1/2 t cinnamon

1/2 t salt

1/4 c coconut flour

1/2 c almond flour

1 1/2 c grated zucchini

1/4 c chopped crystallized ginger

1/4 c dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with baking papers.

Whisk agave, coconut oil, water, vanilla, and eggs together until mixed well. In a separate bowl, mix together baking soda, baking powder, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, salt, and flours. Mix together dry ingredients into wet, and stir until just combined. (Don’t over-mix.) Fold in zucchini, ginger, and cranberries.

Pour even amounts into baking papers. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from tin as soon as possible. (I used a fork and, sliding it down the side of the cupcake, carefully lifted each from the tin.) This will prevent the bottoms from getting soggy. Set on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before icing.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Coconut Cream frosting, adapted from Elana’s Pantry:

1 14.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk (not light)

1 c agave nectar

pinch salt

5 t cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)

1-2 T water

1 1/4 c virgin coconut oil

1 c unsweetened coconut flakes

In a medium saucepan, heat coconut milk, agave, and salt. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring.

Combine cornstarch and water and mix until you get a slurry. Add slurry to saucepan and bring to a boil briefly, stirring. Remove from heat. Gradually blend in coconut oil. Add coconut flakes and stir.

Place saucepan in freezer for 40 minutes or more, checking and stirring occasionally, until frosting solidifies. Blend again until fluffy. Spread over cupcakes. Top cupcakes with dried cranberries, if desired.

Note: I found that this recipe makes way more frosting than is needed for these cupcakes. The frosting freezes quite well. When you want to use the frozen frosting, just allow to thaw until the frosting is able to be stirred and spread, and use on cupcakes as needed.

Refrigerate cupcakes if they will not be served within an hour or so, to preserve freshness. I’ve found they keep in the fridge for several days.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian