Tag Archives: frosting

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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"

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.




28 May

this picture placed conveniently at the top so you are inspired to continue on

This morning when I woke up, I decided that I wanted to make (gluten-free) cinnamon rolls. Why? Because I can. And just as the yeast was proofing, I learned that my mom’s darling pug had two seizures last night.

the prince of pugs

I had to move away from the flour so as to not get tears in it and instead proceeded to cry on Brandon (after googling pugs and seizures–not a good idea) for a while before returning to what then became therapeutic baking (I am totally obsessed with dogs, and I do not want this one going anywhere any time soon). This made delicious cinnamon rolls all the more necessary!  Before I get any more gooey (pun intended) I will just get on with the recipe.

gluten-free army ready for battle

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls

For the dough:

1/4 cup coconut flour

3/4 cup oat flour

1 cup tapioca starch

1 Tbsp xanthan gum

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 1/4 tsp quick rising yeast

1 cup flax milk (or milk-like product of your choice)

1/8 cup agave nectar

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

Heat the flax milk, oil, and agave nectar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a light simmer and immediately remove from the stove to cool. You want the mixture to be around 110 degrees to activate the yeast. For me, that’s about as hot as the water gets straight out of my tap. When the mixture is the right temperature, mix in the yeast and let it sit until it gets nice and foamy.

Mix together the coconut flour, oat flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and salt.

dry ingredients ready to be whisked together into one!

Once the yeast is proofed, add it to the flour mixture, along with the eggs and vanilla extract. The dough will be pretty sticky. If it seems too wet, add about 1 tsp at a time of tapioca starch until it holds together. Cover this bowl lightly and leave it to rise for about an hour (I stick mine in the microwave for safe keeping–with the microwave OFF!).

fluffy dough ready for rolling!

Okay, here comes a shameless plug for one of my favorite baking tools. THE SILPAT! A silpat is a non-stick baking sheet cover that I use when making any baked good that gets cooked on a baking sheet. Or, in this case, rolling out my cinnamon roll dough. Trust me when I say you need this. But if you don’t have one and are currently dying for cinnamon rolls (I know it’s hard to look at food blogs and not immediately be able to taste the food), you can grease up a piece of parchment paper and dust it with cornstarch.

Roll your dough into a large rectangle on the silpat or parchment paper. This may require dusting your rolling pin with cornstarch as the dough will likely try to stick at least a bit. Now onto the good part!

For the filling:

3 Tbsp butter

about 1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar (I just sprinkled mine on til I felt satisfied with the coverage so I’m guessing how much I used)

about a tablespoon cinnamon (again, guessing since I just dusted with it)

a handful of raisins (optional)

a handful of finely chopped walnuts (optional)

Melt the butter and spread it evenly over the dough’s now flat surface. Then, sprinkle it with brown sugar, cinnamon, and dried fruit or nuts if you so desire.

ready to roll

To roll up your cinnamon goodness, gently lift one side of the silpat or parchment to help you begin rolling the dough tightly (but not so much that it busts apart) into a big cinnamon log. Make sure you close the seam when you finish.


a cinn-ful log

Ready to learn a trick? Cut your cinnamon log into 1″ rolls using dental floss!

log bits

ta da!

Finally, grease a pie pan or baking pan with butter and tuck your fledgling rolls in to nap again (let them rise for about 45 more minutes).

Preheat the oven to 350°. When ready, bake for 15-20 minutes or until just turning brown. Check ’em at 15 minutes to be on the safe side.

ready to bake!

While they’re baking, prepare the frosting. I used leftover coconut milk frosting I had in the fridge from “Cake Is Beautiful.” You can either halve that recipe and use it, or do something like:

1/2 lb confectioners sugar

2 Tbsp flax milk

1 1/2 Tbsp butter (softened)

1 tsp vanilla extract (or almond extract, or maple syrup)

Whisk this jazz together and pour it over the buns when they’re fresh out of the oven.

And, drum roll please….

in all their gooey glory

Hope you like these as much as we did! Here’s a shot of Brandon torn between eating his salad and diving into a sugary surprise:

Brandon: What percentage do you want to eat another one of these?
Me: 150%


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