Monday, November 21, 2011

GF & DF Pumpkin Cupcakes & Lemon Vanilla Frosting

With only a few days until Thanksgiving I felt one more pumpkin post was required. I could think of nothing more perfect than a cupcake and I must admit that these are delicious. Plus these lovelies come with a story…

I was asked to bake cupcakes this past weekend for my beloved yoga studio, The Funky Buddha. This was my first baking request, that didn’t come from a friend or family member, and I was incredibly excited to be the local baker of choice. But as many first experiences in my life, they can be a bit dramatic, and this one was no exception.

Fast forward to my home, I’m baking away and everything is moving smoothly. The cupcakes are out of the oven and cooling and now it’s time to make the frosting. Enter Problem #1: The missing ingredient. Soy butter. This is a necessary component for making frosting. The soy butter is what gives the frosting the ability to stiffen up and stay in place, otherwise what you get is a tasty glaze. As fate would have it I only have ⅓ of the amount of soy butter I need.

Enter Problem #2: Time. I have 30 minutes to finish my cupcakes and not enough time to run to the store.  I decide to make due with what I have… and as expected, instead of frosting I end up with a yummy but incredibly messy glaze. Sigh.

With only minutes to spare I load up the cupcakes, jump into the car and head to the studio. Enter Problem #3: Faulty cupcake containers. I’m quickly driving down the street, and I fly over the speed hump (aka speed bump) and one of the containers takes a mini launch into the air. Oh dear. I know that the cupcakes are loosely packed and I’m dreading looking into the containers.  

I slowly drive the rest of the way to the studio and gingerly check the damage. Two of my (already not so perfect) cupcakes have fallen over and one completely flipped top-side-down. The time has run out and it’s time to deliver my first order…

Something to know about me is that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I could have delivered these cupcakes and never said a word, but my pride was wounded. With a slightly heavy heart I pick up my cupcakes and head into the studio. Carrie, sweet Carrie, is working the front desk and offers her help. Together we clean up the mess, to the best of our ability, and Carrie very kindly offers to eat the evidence of the overturned cupcake.

Why am I sharing all of this? Because sometimes I take myself entirely too seriously and at the end of the day my life does not depend on a cupcake. As a matter of fact, the cupcakes were very much loved and a second order has been requested. This time I plan on stocking up on soy butter, sturdy containers and giving myself a bit more time… and did I mention how seriously good these cupcakes taste? You really have to try them. I promise they are worth ALL the effort. ;)

GF & DF Pumpkin Cupcakes
by Laura Friendly
Start to finish: 55 minutes (including baking time)
makes 12 large cup cakes

  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free All Purpose Baking Flour
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • ½  tsp salt
  • dash of fresh nutmeg

  • 15 oz. pumpkin
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • ½ cup virgin coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk, room temp
  • 4 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, nutmeg and salt. Add in pumpkin, eggs, coconut oil, coconut milk, vanilla and maple syrup. Whisk together well, until batter is smooth. (A kitchen aid mixer or a hand mixer would work well).

Pour the mixture evenly between the 12 muffin liners. The batter is thick so you may need to press it down into the muffin liners and smooth out the tops of each cupcake. Bake in the center of a preheated oven, until dome shaped and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. About 25 minutes, depending upon your oven.

Cool the pan briefly, then gently pop out the cupcakes and continue cooling on a wire rack.

Once completely cooled, frost the cupcakes and cover in an air-tight container. They are best eaten the first day but if you are making them ahead of time, they can also be wrapped individually and frozen (prior to frosting).

note: if you would like a slightly sweeter cupcake, use sweetened coconut milk in place of the unsweetened coconut milk.

Vegan Lemon Vanilla Butter-Cream Frosting
by Laura Friendly
Start to finish: 15 minutes
makes enough frosting for 12 cupcakes

  • ⅓ cup soy butter, room temp
  • 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place butter into a large mixing bowl and beat until it is fluffy (using a hand or stand mixer).

With mixer running slowly, add in 2 cups of powdered sugar, ½ at a time, and beat until crumbly. Scraping down the sides of the mixer as often as necessary.

Beat in lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. Slowly add in remaining powered sugar, beating slowly, until fully incorporated. Use immediately.

note: If the frosting seems too thick, add a little more lemon juice (1 tsp at at time) until it becomes spreadable. If it’s not thick enough, add in more powdered sugar (1 tbsp at a time) until it’s stiff but still spreadable.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Vegan Cream Cheese

I think one of the biggest challenges to living with food allergies is the cost. Cooking gluten & dairy-free isn’t cheap. Everything I buy pre-made—from salsa to bread to cream cheese—can easily cost up to triple the price. So as often as I can, I try to make things from scratch to reduce the cost to my pocketbook.

Which means that these days I make my own salsa, bread and cream cheese.

If you go to to the store today an 8oz. tub of vegan cream cheese costs around $4. That’s not an outrageous price but if you eat a lot of cream cheese… that can really add up. This homemade recipe I’m sharing today makes about 16oz. of cream cheese and costs under $3. Definitely a better bargain. (And if you start shopping for these ingredients in bulk… the price will go down even further.)

Part of the fun of making your own cream cheese is that you can mess around with the flavor to make it taste however you’d like. This version has a slight nutty flavor that’s both fresh and light but if you want to get creative try adding a little fresh basil or  rosemary, nutritional yeast or honey. The possibilities are endless.

Vegan Cream Cheese
by Laura Friendly

Makes: about 16 oz.
start to finish: 10 minutes
  • ½ cup cashews, soaked overnight in water
  • 1 14oz firm tofu,
  • 1 to 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
Drain tofu and place between several paper towels or cheese cloth and squeeze out excess liquid and set aside. (the tofu will brake up into pieces during this process.)

Drain the cashews and pat dry with a paper towel. Put cashews into a food processor and blend until it becomes a paste. Add in the tofu and blend for about 3 minutes until it becomes a very creamy texture.

Add in the lemon juice, agave, apple cider vinegar, salt and olive oil. Continue to blend for another 2 minutes. Add in the xanthan gum and blend for about 1 minute. The mixture should start to thicken up.

You can use the cream cheese right away, but allowing it to refrigerate for a couple of hours allows the flavors to blend and makes it taste even better.