Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes with Mocha Icing

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes with Mocha Icing

Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes with Mocha Icing Recipe

The world is my oyster. No, wait. I'm allergic to oysters. And even if my body did not rebel in rather alarming ways upon the ingestion of those slimy little devils, truth is, I would much prefer a cupcake. Tender, soft sweetness in exactly the right portion. Not too big. Not too aggressive. Not too much. Just right. Texture, in all honesty, is a big issue for me. Size is an issue. And taste, well, that goes without saying [keep those tinny bean flours to yourself, please].

If I was a storybook character I would inhabit The Princess and the Pea.

Except that it would have to be The Gluten-Free Casein-Free Princess and the Pea (which by the way, I'm also allergic to- the pea, that is). While others around me appear to sail oblivious through the onslaught of sensory stimuli and proteins that is life in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, I've been blessed (and I use the term ironically) with the uncanny aptitude of hearing, smelling, feeling every little particle and nuance packed into our molecular frenzy of unstable equilibrium. I can sleep on a stack of twenty mattresses but if there is a single lonely pea beneath I am sure to sense it.

And it will keep me up all night.

Which brings me back to cupcakes. For those of us with acute sensory awareness a cupcake is a small and lovely gift. When done right, a cupcake is tender and not too chewy, not too crumbly, dense or assertive. It's not too abrasive in its flavor or too dull. It's not too hot or too cold. It's not too chic and bitter or too cloying and sweet. It doesn't stuff you till you're stupid. And it doesn't demand attention. It's not a diva. It's not competitive. A cupcake is perfectly happy to be what it is even if it won't garner food awards or get its own TV show and cookware line. A cupcake is very postmodern zen and unapologetic. It is what it is. You can take or leave it. The cupcake doesn't care.

Because a well done cupcake is simply perfection.

Vegan Vanilla Cupcake with Mocha Icing Recipe

Vanilla Cupcakes with Mocha Icing- a Vegan Recipe

I frosted these little vanilla beauties with mocha flavored icing because I love the combo of coffee and chocolate. But straight up chocolate would also be delicious. Sprinkles, as always, are optional.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cupcake tin with paper or parchment liners

In a mixing bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together:

1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Add in:

1 cup warm vanilla rice milk or water
1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with 1/4 cup warm water (or two large happy eggs)
3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon light tasting vinegar

Beat with a mixer until the cake batter is smooth- roughly 2-3 minutes.

A reminder on gluten-free vegan batters: Gluten-free vegan batters behave a little different. They are often stiffer at first, then get sticky and stretch as the xanthan gum and egg replacer do their vegan g-free thing.

If the batter climbs the beaters, slow down the speed and slightly lift the beaters to encourage the batter to migrate back down into the bowl. Move your beater around the bowl in figure eights, at a slight angle.

Using an ice cream scoop, plop the batter into the twelve liners. Smooth out the tops with wet fingers.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven until firm and dome shaped. For me this took about 18 minutes at sea level but they may take up to 20 to 22 minutes, depending upon your particular oven and altitude.

Cool the pan on a wire rack briefly, then gently pop out the cupcakes and continue cooling on a rack (this avoids steaming the bottoms).

Make your icing.

Dairy-Free Mocha Icing Recipe

When making frosting, start with a small amount of liquid and add a little bit at a time until you achieve the consistency you want. If the icing gets too runny, add more confectioner's sugar to thicken it. You can also put the icing in the fridge for an hour to stiffen it.

2 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2-3 tablespoons Spectrum Organic Shortening
2 ounces cold coffee, more as needed (or use rice milk if you don't like coffee)
1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla

Starting with the least amount of liquid, beat the sugar and cocoa powder to incorporate the shortening, coffee and vanilla. If you need more liquid, add a small amount at a time. Beat for two minutes or so until smooth. If you need to stiffen the frosting, add a little more confectioner's sugar.

Chill the frosting before using it. I chill it, covered, for roughly an hour.

Frost the cupcakes. Cover in an air-tight container until serving. best eaten the first day. If making ahead of time, chill frosted cakes briefly in the freezer before wrapping individually and freezing.

Makes twelve cupcakes.


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