Tag Archives: baking

The Christmas Baking Begins (gluten-free chocolate peppermint christmas light cupcakes)

10 Dec

I told Brandon I made him a Christmas valentine. I look more asian than in real life, though..

‘Tis the season to bake cookies. And cakes and cupcakes and tarts and breads and anything that warms your kitchen with good smells and joy. I never seem to need an excuse to bake but the holiday season provides one nonetheless. We went to a big family holiday party today (Brandon’s family) so naturally I felt this would be the perfect excuse to make a large amount of cupcakes. Chocolate peppermint cupcakes to be specific. These babies were very distracting while in the oven since the whole house basically smelled like hot cocoa. This is a good thing.

My mom called me yesterday and mentioned that holiday cookie baking and decorating with my aunts and cousins had been cancelled due to lack of interest. The only one with any desire to decorate sugar cookies any more is my youngest cousin Max, who is really only concerned with consuming as much frosting as humanly possible. My mom then continued on to tell me that holiday baking was all up to me. Naturally, I accepted my heavy burden with stoic dignity…not. I laughed maniacally and rubbed my palms together, looking entirely like a cartoon villain with a horrible plan that you know will never work out. THE BAKING IS ALL MINE!

Aside from my mom, who is totally badass in the kitchen, no one else on her side of the family is very committed to cooking. My aunt Heidi occasionally makes amazing German food, but it’s a rare occasion. My grandma, when left to her own devices, would leave the Thanksgiving turkey in the oven for the entire day until no moisture remained. My aunt Karen just moved back to Chicago, so now she just gets to eat at really awesome restaurants all the time. Even I rejected cooking for the better part of my adolescence. I always thought that since my mom was so good at it, why should I learn? Also, no high schooler has any interest in anything their parents are interested in or think they should be interested in. It’s really quite silly.

Anyways, college taught me the cold hard lesson that I was not an amazing cook simply by osmosis. The first time I cooked dinner for a college boyfriend, I set the fire alarm off while cooking tuna steaks. I found some non-college friends who showed me that there were other young people who cared about food, and I slowly started to learn to cook. I had at least acquired good taste from my mom’s cooking, but the techniques were what I needed to work on. My mom got me a brilliant set of knives and taught me how to use them, and now I cringe when I see someone drag a knife blade across the cutting board. I realized that I had good ideas and I knew what flavors naturally worked together, and now my boyfriend claims that he’s going to forget how to cook because he just prefers when I do it. Food has become a much bigger and healthier part of my life. Being gluten-free and mostly vegetarian has helped me to develop a better idea of what should and should not go into my body. And Brandon is the perfect match for me and my kitchen tastes–we excitedly embark on food adventures together.

So, now that I’ve shared a little about my entrance into the world of food, I’ll get on to the good part: cupcakes! I don’t normally get excited about “cute” food, so when I found the image of the christmas lights made out of candy (IT WASN’T PINTEREST I SWEAR), I was a little surprised at how quickly it went in my bookmark folder. I suppose I liked it both because of my fluctuating hormones and the fact that they’d be going to a family christmas party. Anyways, they DID turn out adorable AND delicious. Mission accomplished. What’s even better is that there were several gluten-free party guests, including an adorable toddler, who were all excited that there was a dessert they could enjoy. Even better! Hope you enjoy these as well.

GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT CHRISTMAS LIGHT CUPCAKES

1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup dark cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup sugar (or substitute 1/2-3/4 cup agave nectar)

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup chocolate almond milk (or any milk product of your choosing, warmed slightly)

3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 large egg

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients thoroughly.

Warm the chocolate milk and coconut oil gently on the stove.

Then, in a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients so that the egg is lightly beaten.

Combine dry and wet ingredients using an electric mixer until smooth.

Fold in chocolate chips. Using a cookie scoop, fill each cupcake liner half way*.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick emerges from clean from the center of the cupcake.

Let cool entirely before frosting.

*For my first batch, I filled them too high (this is a matter of style, of course) and they came out beautiful and puffy and tall. It was awesome, but not practical if you want lots of cupcakes. Still, I made a double batch of batter and somehow ended up with 36 cupcakes. It was kind of exciting.

PEPPERMINT FROSTING

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 stick of butter at room temperature

splash of milk (of your choosing, not flavored)

1 tsp peppermint extract

Cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add in the powdered sugar and a little milk (enough just to make it luscious) and blend until smooth. Add in the peppermint extract and beat until incorporated.


CANDY CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

1 bag Mike & Ike candies (if you can get the holiday themed bag, there’s only red and green candies, which is a plus)

1 bag almond M&Ms

1 tube green decorating icing (or homemade–I didn’t have enough frosting to do this but did have a tube ready in case that happened. If you want homemade on top, just add some green food coloring to the frosting. Tape one corner of a ziploc bag so the seam doesn’t bust while you’re creating a masterpiece. Fill the bag part of the way with frosting. Cut a very small tip off of the taped corner of the bag and bam! Homemade disposable pastry bag.)

Cut the green Mike & Ikes in half and attach each half to the bottom of an M&M. When you place them on the cupcakes, make sure the M is facing down. Use the green frosting to draw lines of “wiring.” If you’re feeling ambitious, you can “connect” them across the cupcakes (see below).

I better find an extension cord…

I thought about filling the center of these cupcakes with creamy peppermint chocolate, but I didn’t have enough time to be that ambitious, so I thought the chocolate chips would do. And they did.

This little card was on display at the holiday party

Send photos of your favorite holiday baked goods! I’ll be back soon with more, not all of which will be appealing only to your sweet tooth.

Enjoy!

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End of Summer (Gluten-Free) Cake (Though Cake Season Never Ends)

4 Sep

I shuddered as I wrote that doomsday-esque title; I know I have no place to announce the ends of seasons, but with the imminent approach of Harvest Gathering I feel like fall is coming, regardless of temperature. It’s getting to that wonderful part of August where the nights are cool and the days still pass the 80 degree mark; football season avoid Ann Arbor at all costs season is beginning; tomatoes are all but falling off the vine en masse. It’s time once again to embrace fresh apple cider, savory baked goods, and socks. Really cozy wool socks. I feel like I’m starting to sound like a Pure Michigan commercial. Maybe it’s the ultra-calming effects of the Blue Lotus tea Brandon just made me. ULTRA CALM. SUPER CALM. MEGA CALM! Nothing gets the blood pumping like a few phrases in all caps. I’m feeling snappy already! Perhaps just snappy enough to tell you about the awesome cake that I’ve already made twice in the last week. In two variations!

I borrowed the recipe from Karina at Gluten Free Goddess for an impromptu going-away-party-cake for Brandon’s sister, Corinna, who just moved to Connecticut to get even more awesome at being awesome. Oh gosh, Karina, Corinna…together for the first time in one sentence! Corinna has a really great band and Karina has a really great blog. Oddly enough, the post that this recipe came from begins with a letter from a “fan” full of backhanded compliments and waaay too much sass. I don’t know if I’m missing something but I can’t tell if it’s parody or not! Anyways, the cake recipe is GREAT. It’s totally a transitional cake–there’s a hint of cinnamon, cornmeal for a little texture, but based around summery strawberries. The first time I baked this with the strawberries, it was great. I opted for a pound of berries instead of the suggested pint, since it didn’t seem like the pint would at all cover the bottom of my cast-iron pan. The second time I tried the cake, it was even more impromptu and I only had peaches on hand, so they became the new base and GUESS WHAT. IT WAS STILL GREAT. SO GREAT. I topped both versions with homemade whipped cream, which was a stellar pairing. Also tasty would be some vanilla bean or cinnamon ice cream…mmm. This is a simple cake. “Rustic” seems like an appropriate adjective as chosen by Karina. I’ll let her do the talking as for the recipe (though I’ll insert my suggestions, too). Keep in mind my suggestion for more fruit! And experiment! What sort of seasonal fruits might you try with this?

iPhone for the win! Coming in handy when my camera is not around.

GLUTEN-FREE RUSTIC STRAWBERRY COBBLER CAKE

(for some reason my technology devices have decided that this section MUST be in a larger font size. I supposed it is the important part…)

The key word in this cake is rustic- due to the grainy cornmeal. I used a combo of hefty flours because I personally like a whole grain kind of feel in a cobbler cake like this.

For the strawberries:

 

1 heaping pint of fresh strawberries, washed, patted dry (I went for a pound of strawberries)

A sprinkle of lemon or lime juice

2 tablespoons organic sugar

 

Dry ingredients:

2/3 cup certified gluten-free cornmeal

1/3 cup GF buckwheat flour, GF millet flour, or brown rice flour

2/3 cup sorghum flour

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup organic light brown sugar, packed

Pinch of nutmeg- just a hint

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

Wet ingredients:

1/4 cup light olive oil

1 cup hemp or rice milk, warm (milk or milk substitute of your choice! and it doesn’t actually NEED to be warm, as it turns out–I learned that due to a lazy moment)

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or light tasting rice vinegar

3 tablespoons raw organic agave nectar or honey

2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract

Egg replacer for 2 eggs- I used Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with warm water (or eggs!)

Organic raw sugar for the top, if desired (it makes a lovely crunchy top)

 

 

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Warm up a seasoned 10-inch skillet (or use a hefty cake pan or casserole dish). I rubbed mine with a little light olive oil (or butter). Set aside.

Stem the strawberries; cut them in half; toss them into a bowl and sprinkle with a little bit of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons organic sugar. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use a whisk to combine your dry ingredients: cornmeal, buckwheat and white rice flours, xanthan gum, sea salt, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl combine the wet ingredients: light olive oil, hemp milk, vinegar, agave, vanilla, egg replacer (or egg). Whisk till combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and lightly mix by hand until combined- don’t over-beat (it isn’t necessary).

Drain the strawberries and pour them into the warm skillet (reserve several for the top, as I did, if you like).

Spoon the batter onto the strawberries. Place the reserved berries on top, cut side down, pressing in slightly.

Sprinkle the whole top with organic raw sugar crystals.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, depending upon your altitude and oven (here at 6,700 feet it took 47 minutes). *Mine took between 25 and 35 minutes each, here in flat ol’ Michigan*

Test for doneness by not only touching the top- it should be golden and firm- but by using a cake tester inserted into the center; it should emerge clean.

Place the skillet on a wire cooling rack to cool.

Serve slices warm or at room temperature. Wrap leftover slices in foil; bag and freeze. Thaw to room temperature or warm gently before consuming.

We enjoyed our cake with a little local hard cider!

Here’s the peach version (with blueberries on top) in case you were wondering.

 

 

Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Lemon Curd-Filled Cupcakes, AKA Summer In Your Mouth

14 Jun

I’m going to stop beginning my posts by remarking how long it’s been since I posted. I think maybe I should cut myself a little slack…after all one can only be obsessed with so many things at once. I write to you now from the road, currently heading to Toronto with Orpheum Bell. We’re headed to play at a festival called North By North East (Think SXSW but with Canadian accents eh?). It’s my first show with them since my vocal cord surgery in March! That’s a whole story in itself. I could even tell you what I ate while all drugged up, totally silent, and nursing a very tender throat (non-dairy chocolate-spinach milkshakes and raw avocado/spinach/green everything soup while watching lots of movies…fun times for Brandon…). But that’s long past. What is important today is this:


Yep. Cupcakes. Cupcakes are starting to haunt my dreams. Brandon’s birthday was on Monday. I asked him if he had any preference for cupcake flavor, and he very ambivalently suggested “maybe something with chocolate…not a chocolate cupcake but like…chocolate in it…I don’t know.” I interpreted this as “I trust you darling! Make me something delicious” and went running far from chocolate chip cupcakes to the land of lemon. Inspired by some delicious lemon curd I tasted at the Portland Farmers Market, I decided to experiment with filled cupcakes, or “surprise cupcakes” as I like to call them. Perhaps you all can help me name these cupcakes. I can only think of cheesy things like “lemon clouds” or “lemon dream cupcakes” because they are so fluffy on the first bite and wonderfully smooth and tart upon reaching the surprise lemon curd in the center. Are you hungry yet? I am. I’m sitting at the border waiting to cross into Canada and all I want to do is eat a cupcake now that I’ve sat here and stared at pictures of them.

Well, dear reader, the odds of you being near your kitchen are probably pretty high, so you could be the lucky consumer of a delicious cupcake if you just follow your rumbling tummy down the rest of this page! I will warn you that these are not quick and dirty. You have to take your time and love them tenderly. So maybe have a snack and then get working on these.




LEMON ON LEMON CUPCAKE DELIGHTS (seriously, I need help with a name. Come on, people.)
*Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, altered by yours truly

So I woke up around 6 AM (naturally) on the day of Brandon’s birthday, like a kid on Christmas morning, except this time I was freakishly excited to make cupcakes. I waited til about 8 AM to appease my roommates then got to making lemon curd. It’s surprisingly easy! I will even tell you how to make it without straining it.

LEMON CURD

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temp (Please don’t microwave this. Let it sit out and soften on its own.)
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 large eggs
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest

In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until somewhat smooth. Add in the eggs and egg yolks and beat for about a minute (this is what keeps you from straining later!). Mix in the lemon juice last. It may look a little funky, but no worries. The chunks will disappear as you cook and the butter melts.

Using a heavy-based saucepan, cook the mixture on low heat until it smooths out. Increase the heat to an easy medium and stir constantly until the mixture thickens. It should reach about 170 degrees (F) but should not boil. This should take around 15 minutes. Once thickened, remove from heat and add in the lemon zest. Transfer to a covered container and let chill in the fridge for a few hours. And ta dah! You have delicious lemon curd. I made 24 cupcakes, filled them with lemon curd, and still had some curd left over.

"the fried egg"

LEMON LADY CUPCAKES (still trying with that name thing)

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 3/4 cups gluten-free flour mix (I used C4C, I was lazy today and didn’t feel like mixing my own)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs at room temperature, separated
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
zest of one lemon
4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup yogurt (I used The Greek Gods honey flavored Greek yogurt…yum)

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a bowl to combine.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks begin to form. Add in 1/2 cup sugar and continue whisking until stiffer peaks form. Set aside.

In another large bowl, with your mixer on medium speed, cream the butter until smooth.
Add in 3/4 cup sugar and lemon zest and beat until fluffy.
Add the yolks, one at a time until combined. Then add the vanilla and lemon juice.
Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add 1/3 of the dry ingredients until combined. Follow with half of the yogurt, then another third of the flour mix, the second half of the yogurt, and the remaining third of the flour mix until all combined.

Mix in one third of the egg whites, and then fold the rest gently into the batter.

Fill two lined muffin tins with the batter and bake for 15-20 minutes (they should get slightly browned on top–mine were big and needed a little more time since they’re dense). Let cool slightly before removing from muffin tins, and then let cool completely on a rack.

I’m sorry I didn’t take any process pictures! I was so consumed with getting these made that I just powered through.


When the cupcakes have cooled, remove a portion of their centers, as if coring an apple. This is where your lemon curd will go (and now you can sample the cupcake goodness).
Fill a pastry bag with lemon curd, and inject the curd into the center of the cupcakes til the curd reaches the top of the cupcake (think Ho-Ho but healthier and tastier).

Now, time to decide what to top the cupcakes with! I think a meringue would be really nice, but I didn’t have time for that and instead opted for a simple buttercream frosting.

"the brain"

EASY BUTTERCREAM
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks or 1/2 lb butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
up to 4 Tbsp milk (I used flax milk)

Beat the butter using an electric mixer for a few minutes. Add the powdered sugar in a few batches until incorporated. Then add in the salt, vanilla, and 2 Tbsp milk. Beat until smooth. If the frosting is too soft, add more powdered sugar. If it’s too stiff, add more milk!

You can pipe the frosting on or spread it, you decide! I played with a little of both. It was a little too hot outside, though, and my frosting quickly decided it no longer wanted to play. I just acquired frosting bag tips, so bear with me as I experiment.

"underwater basket weaving"

"the poodle"

These were the perfect dessert to come home to after a spicy Indian dinner with the Brandon’s family. I spelled out “happy birthday b!” in (homemade) marzipan letters and lit about 7 candles in the cupcakes, my reasoning being that that’s probably closer to Brandon’s age “on the inside.”

I hope you like these cupcakes as much as we did.

Enjoy!

 

Cake Is Beautiful (I Guess)

21 May

Listen: Life Is Beautiful (I Guess)

It seems right to start things off with a cake. Cake is delicious. I don’t care if you don’t have a sweet tooth, I will make you a savory cake. But for now, feast your eyes on this baby:

gluten-free coconut cake

This, my friends, was my Mothers’ Day gift. I called my mom to talk about festivities for the day (read: talk about food), and when we got to dessert she said that my cousin would be bringing a cheesecake and that she had an angel cake so I didn’t need to bring anything. I gently reminded her that I could eat neither of those things and would rather make a dessert that I could eat and that she would enjoy. My mom loves coconut, so this seemed perfect. I definitely got my foodie nature from my mama. She’s always been a wizard at the stove, whipping up gourmet meals fit for a princess. As an only child, I have no siblings to vouch for how awesome it was that my mom cooked a healthy, homemade meal every night for dinner. But trust me, it was great. And I didn’t appreciate it nearly enough at the time; I just kind of thought everyone’s mom was as much of a food genius as mine. As it turns out, I was wrong. I also learned once I got to college that the ability to cook is not entirely hereditary. However, I am constantly learning and am proud to say I can out-bake my mom any day (she’s a whiz at improvising, but is too…free-spirited…to pay attention to the science of baking). Nevertheless, cheers to delicious coconut cake and moms alike!

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I adapted this recipe from Karina at Gluten Free Goddess and have included my notes along with the recipe below:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups tapioca starch
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup organic coconut flour
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 free-range organic eggs, beaten, or egg replacer
1/2 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil (I usually use vegetable oil or another more mild tasting oil when baking, as I tend to notice the more distinct flavor of olive oil in baked goods)
1 14-oz can organic light coconut milk (I made two of these cakes, but when I was at the grocery store I forgot I was doubling the recipe, so I ended up using flax milk in the second cake which I don’t think made a difference-I tasted both)
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract 

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two 9-inch cake pans with a circle of parchment paper. (I used non-stick cake pans and skipped the parchment paper, everything came out easily and very intact)

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours and dry ingredients.

Add in the eggs, oil, coconut milk, lime juice and vanilla. Beat until smooth. It should resemble a slightly thick and sticky cake batter.

Scoop the cake batter into the two prepared cake pans and spread evenly. Use wet hands, if necessary, to smooth out the tops.

Bake in the center of the oven, side by side for 33 minutes, or so, until firm and springy. A cake tester inserted into the center should emerge clean. Cool on a wire rack.

For the frosting:

1 cup dairy-free butter flavored organic palm shortening (This is only necessary if you’re making it vegan-I used real butter because butter is delicious)
1 teaspoon pure coconut or vanilla extract (Surprise! I actually chose almond extract for this since I thought it would be more unique than vanilla, and I didn’t have any coconut extract on hand, though I’m sure it’d be tasty)
1 pound powdered sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk (The kind from a can and not the kind you might drink from a box–it’s thicker and makes a nicer frosting)
Optional: I pureed strawberries with a little bit of powdered sugar and mixed it with frosting to put in between the two layers of the cake. It added a nice burst of flavor and was pretty to boot! I bet this would be good with blackberries too…try whatever tickles your fancy and is in season!


Topping:

Flaked sweetened coconut for topping (I used unsweetened coconut flakes, as the frosting was sweet enough for me)
Optional: I also sliced strawberries and laid them around the edge of the cake. Again, try it with other berries! 

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, beat the shortening (or butter) and extract till combined. Add in the powdered sugar and half the coconut milk, and beat till smooth. Slowly add the remaining coconut milk, as you need it, a little at a time, until you achieve a smooth and creamy consistency.

To frost the cake:

TIP: To keep things on pretty on your plate, place a few sheets of parchment paper on the plate so they cover its edge before putting the first layer of cake down. This keeps you from frosting your plate and you can simply pull them out from under the cake when you’ve finished instead of trying to wipe frosting off afterwards.

When the cakes are cool, gently remove one from the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Trim off the domed top if you like, using a long serrated knife, to keep the cake layer even. Brush off any crumbs.

Center the first layer top side down on a cake plate. Frost the layer with roughly 3/4 cup of icing (this is where I mixed in the pureed strawberries). Remove the second cake layer from the pan and peel off the parchment. Trim the dome top, if you like (brush off any crumbs). Place the layer on top of the frosted layer.

Scoop about a cup of frosting onto the top of the cake and spread it evenly to the edges. Begin adding frosting to the sides of the cake, spreading it evenly over the sides. Clean off the frosting spatula under warm water and dry it off.

Smooth the sides by turning the plate as you hold the spatula firmly in place. Clean off the spatula with warm water again, dry it, and smooth out the top.

Sprinkle with grated, sweetened coconut, if desired (and fruit if you like!)

Allow the frosting to set, or chill briefly, before covering and storing the cake.

Yield: 1 9-inch layer cake

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Let me know what sort of modifications you might make!

Enjoy!

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