Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

Okay, so my friend Gen's birthday was Monday. She's gluten-intolerant and less than thrilled with the GF cupcake mixes available on the shelves (though apparently some are better than others). For her birthday though, she wanted cupcakes--well, okay, she's been wanting them for a while now. Chocolate cupcakes.

Well, why not? Using a GF flour mix, most things are easy enough to convert even if they still taste GF. But here's the thing. Gen's boyfriend is vegan. I actually enjoy cooking/baking vegan things for this guy though (he's always incredibly grateful when someone makes him--especially bakes him--something vegan), so making the decision to accommodate them both wasn't too hard.

What was hard: finding a cupcake recipe I liked. My friend Annie directed me toward this one from Love & Olive Oil--which had the advantage of already being vegan. I substituted in Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour (hooray for compound nouns!) and the appropriate amount of xantham gum (it helps gluten-free things bind), as well as garbanzo bean flour in place of the almond meal (mostly because I can't afford almond meal!). I got the cupcakes in the oven and then began working on the frosting.

Well actually, my friend and Gen's roommate Brenna started working on the frosting. With her boyfriend. We used French Vanilla soy creamer instead of regular soy creamer with a vanilla bean. You could also use some of the coconut milk instead of the soy creamer, if you wanted coconut-flavored frosting. We should have added a little more powdered sugar so the frosting would hold up better when I piped it on. Pictures will follow soonish! Brenna was my photographer.

When we tried these, they were better than I expected--they were great (and I hate, hate, hate chocolate cake). They didn't taste gluten-free or vegan.

Here is the modified recipe (including the increased sugar in the frosting):

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
Yields: 12 regular or 48 mini-cupcakes
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar**
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon xantham gum
2 tablespoons garbanzo bean flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Extra dark)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

For Frosting:
1/2 cup vegan margarine, room temperature
3-4 cups confectioners' sugar**
2 tablespoons French Vanilla soy creamer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract until incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, xantham gum, garbanzo bean flourl, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in coconut milk mixture. Stir until just smooth (do not overmix).

Pour into liners, filling each with 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be no more than 2/3 full). For mini cupcakes, fill each with 1 tablespoon batter. Bake 18-20 minutes (or 10-12 for minis), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

For frosting, cream butter until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Mix in the soy creamer. Continue adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition (depending on the temperature of your butter, you may need more or less sugar/creamer to achieve the proper consistency). Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

**A quick note about sugar and veganism. A number of vegans won't eat regular, refined (white) sugar because of the way it's processed. My vegan friend doesn't really care--but if you're making this for a vegan who does, you should probably talk to them about alternatives or visit any number of vegan blogs that will discuss alternatives.

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