October 10, 2010
I recently admitted on The Family Kitchen that I’m gluten-free curious. I’ve started easy, by focusing on naturally gluten-free foods and experimenting with store bought GF pasta. But, until this weekend, I’d stopped short of gluten-free baking. I was intimated.
Then I found the recipe that would shift my butt into gear: this vegan, gluten-free version of Hostess Cupcakes by Erin McKenna of BabyCakes. These had to be made, harder-to-find ingredients, be damned.
Many gluten-free cooks have favorite brands of ingredients commonly used in GF baking. Brown rice flour from this company, garbanzo-fava flour from that. Since this was my first foray into GF baking, I made things easy by ordering everything I couldn’t find at my local natural foods market from Bob’s Red Mill. Once I had the ingredients in hand, these cupcakes were ridiculously easy. Easier than even the simplest gluten full-cupcakes. All of the ingredients come together in one-bowl!
I have to be honest that I was skeptical when I tasted the batter. It didn’t seem promising. But, about half way through baking, an incredible smell drifted through my house. Not bad.
Not bad, at all! I know what you’re thinking. Vegan? Gluten-free? C’mon.
Though I focus on healthy eating, flavor is the most important thing to me. And have you ever seen the word vegan on this site before? Compare that to the number of times “bacon” appears. My point? I didn’t enjoy these because they are a healthier version. I enjoyed them because they taste good.
BUT (yes, there’s a but), I have to admit that the marshmallow creme makes these. And I’m kind of a sucker for marshmallow creme. (So, if you’re not, well, I’m not sure you’ll like these as much as I did.) The cupcake itself isn’t bad, but it’s also not great. Without good frosting, it tastes like a “healthy” cupcake. (That said, the Hungry Boy didn’t seem to notice!) From what I’ve read, garbanzo-fava flour is not a favorite GF ingredient. I think that my next attempt at gluten-free chocolate cake will use a flour blend from a more trusted source like Silvana Nardone or Shauna of Gluten Free Girl.
As for “healthy,” let’s keep in mind that these are cupcakes, people. Sizable ones. Gluten-free and vegan is great. No artificial ingredients or preservatives makes these infinitely better than the packaged food version. (Anything homemade, including this gluten-full Hostess copycat, is healthier than the packaged kind.) But these, indeed, have calories and there is also a question about coconut oil: it has healthful properties, but is saturated fat. Just stuff to keep in mind. Or, if you don’t want to keep these things in mind, turn up the health quotient by turning these into mini-cupcakes (which are also great for Halloween!).
One-Bowl Healthier Hostess Cupcakes, adapted from the Babycakes cookbook
makes 2 dozen full-sized cupcakes
(can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
1 c brown rice flour
1 c garbanzo-fava bean flour
1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c potato starch
1/4 c arrowroot
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp salt
1 c coconut oil
1 1/2 c agave nectar
1 c unsweetened applesauce
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 c hot water
Suzanne’s Ricemellow Creme
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, potato starch, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Add the oil, agave nectar, applesauce and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Stir until you have a thick batter. Pour in the hot water and continue mixing until the batter is smooth.
3. Pour 1/3 c batter into each prepared cup, almost filling it. Bake the cupcakes on the center rack for 24 minutes, rotating the tins 180 degrees after 14 minutes. The finished cupcakes will bounce back when pressure is applied gently to the center, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.
4. Let the cupcakes stand in the tins for 20 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely. Cut each cupcake horizontally in the center. Using a frosting knife, spread 1 tablespoon Suzanne’s Ricemellow Creme on the bottom layer and set the top of the cupcake back on it.** Frost the top fo the cupcake with another tablespoon of Suzanne’s Ricemellow Creme. (For an extra pretty cupcake, fill a pastry bag with chocolate frosting and pipe chocolate curlicues onto each cupcake.) Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
*Note: The ingredients in these cupcakes can safely be fed to children under 12 months, especially those eating finger foods, but I recommend them for over 12 month due to the higher sweet content. If you want to share with children younger than 12 months, consider small pieces of the cupcake without the additional sweet of the Ricemellow Creme.
**Note: There are several techniques for filling cupcakes. Erin suggests the easiest, but I found it to be overly messy. You can poke the tip of a pastry bag filled with the marshmallow creme in the center and squeeze to fill, but these cupcakes were a little dense for this approach. The filling pocket was too small for my tastes. I ended up using a baby spoon to neatly scoop out the center and fill. I cut the top off of the nugget of scooped out cupcake and used it to cover the well of marshmallow filling. The frosting will cover the seam.