September 15, 2013 12 Comments
Have you had the misfortune of biting into a scrumptious looking gluten-free cupcake, only to discover that it tasted as flavoursome as a scrap of cardboard? Unfortunately, I have.
I am happy to report that carob chai-spice cupcakes are decadent and delicious – and totally unlike cardboard!
Last week, I baked vanilla banana muffins, using a Dreena Burton gluten-free cake recipe. I was impressed with the texture of the muffins, and the fact that they were still light and fluffy two days after baking. My kids enjoyed the muffins, and they made a great lunchbox treat.
The vanilla banana muffins had a subtle flavour, and I knew that the recipe would make a great base for a range of other flavours. So, in my desire to bake a gluten-free cupcake for a school function this weekend, I used the recipe as a guide. I wanted a stronger flavour, so I added raw carob powder and chai spices, including freshly grated nutmeg and ground cardamon.
The caramel-coloured frosting consists of raw carob powder and cinnamon. The smooth, creamy texture is achieved by combining coconut in three of its varieties – coconut butter, coconut oil and coconut cream.
(yields 14 cupcakes)
1 cup millet flour
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp agar powder
1/2 tsp baking soda, sifted
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder, sifted
3/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp raw carob powder (or raw cacao powder)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
A generous pinch of ground cardamon
A generous pinch of ground cloves
1 cup + 2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
3/4 cup pureed ripe bananas
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sunflower oil
desiccated coconut (for decoration), optional
For the frosting:
2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted
3 Tbsp raw carob powder (or cacao powder)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut butter
1 Tbsp organic extra virgin coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp hot water
1- 2 Tbsp tinned coconut cream
1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F. Grease a muffin tin or prepare silicone baking cups on a baking tray. I use a combination of round and square silicone baking cups.
2. To a large mixing bowl, add millet flour, white rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, agar powder, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt, carob powder and all of the spices. Mix well.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, add the pureed banana (I use an immersion blender to puree the ripe bananas), almond milk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and oil. Mix well with a fork or whisk.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well with a spatula, but avoid over-stirring. Stop mixing once the ingredients are combined.
5. Scoop the batter into the muffin tray or silicone baking cups. Use the spatula to smooth the top of each cupcake.
6. Bake the cupcakes for 16-20 mins, until lightly golden. Insert a skewer into the centre of one of the cupcakes to test whether they are baked. If the skewer comes out clean, they are ready. Allow cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes before removing from tray or cups. Then, transfer to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before applying the frosting.
7. Once cooled, transfer cupcakes to cupcake papers (patty pan papers) for serving.
8. For the frosting: In a medium mixing bowl, add sifted icing sugar, carob powder and cinnamon.
In a small bowl, add the coconut butter, coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of hot water and vanilla extract. Stir well. Then add the coconut butter mixture to the bowl of icing sugar.
Add the second tablespoon of hot water to the bowl, and beat the mixture with an electric beater. Initially, the mixture will appear clumpy.
Add a tablespoon of coconut cream. Put the electric beater aside, and use a spatula to mix the icing to a smooth consistency. You may need to add another tablespoon of coconut cream to reach the desired consistency (I used 2 Tbsp).
8. Apply frosting to each cupcake, using a small knife. Sprinkle some or all of the cupcakes with desiccated coconut.
By all means, replace the carob powder with equal amounts of cocoa or raw cacao powder. Chocolate chai cupcakes would be delectable!
I purchased many of the above-mentioned ingredients (including millet flour, carob powder, coconut butter, and xanthan gum) at a local health food store. Other ingredients, like white rice flour, are available in supermarkets. I purchased the agar (otherwise known as agar agar) at an Asian grocery store.
Only one of the Tiny Vegans had the opportunity to taste the cupcakes. She gave them an enthusiastic ‘thumbs-up’.