Sweet celebration: My gluten-free, vegan cupcakes offer a little something everyone can enjoy on the Fourth of July
When celebrating Fourth of July, many of us pay just as much attention to the food as we do the fireworks. But what should we serve? Hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs or chicken? Why not all four? Baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw? They all sound good!
What about dessert? Of course, there will be ice cream. But it almost goes without saying that you'll also need some sort of baked good as well. More and more, though, when I mention baked goods to friends or restaurant guests, a pair of issues comes up that I used to never hear about.
First is the increasing number of people who are trying to follow vegan diets free of any animal products, including dairy. On top of that, it seems that every day somebody tells me they've switched to a gluten-free diet; whether they're dealing with celiac disease or eliminating gluten for other health-related reasons, they no longer eat wheat, the main source of gluten, or other of the many ingredients or processed foods that may contain traces of the substance.
So, this Fourth of July, I'd like to propose making a dessert that will help your friends -- and you-- declare your independence from animal products and gluten alike.
My catering team and I originally developed the following gluten-free, vegan cupcake recipe to serve at the Governors Ball reception following the Academy Awards ceremony; but it's a treat that anyone can enjoy year-round. And by "anyone," I also mean people who may not be following vegan or gluten-free diets.
These cupcakes are absolutely delicious in their own right, featuring a tender, moist cake with a rich chocolate flavor made all the more intense with the help of some freshly brewed coffee. The luscious frosting gets its creaminess from a combination of coconut oil, almond milk and soy milk powder.
You can find all the ingredients you'll need -- including gluten-free baking flour, potato starch, and arrowroot and xanthan gum powders -- in the baking aisle of any well-stocked supermarket today; or online, with most suppliers able to ship them to you within just a few days.
If you're packing the cupcakes to take to an at-home party or picnic, be sure to put them in a rigid, airtight container and keep them someplace cool so that the frosting doesn't melt. Just one more word of caution: Keep looking up in the sky for the fireworks, because otherwise your attention may be focused on dessert alone!
GLUTEN-FREE VEGAN CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH ALMOND-COCONUT CREAM FROSTING
Makes 2 dozen
1 1/2 cups plain or vanilla-flavored almond milk
3/4 cup soy milk powder
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon coconut extract
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups coconut oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 3/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free baking flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/3 cups agave nectar
1 cup hot brewed dark-roast coffee
1 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Prepare the frosting at least 6 hours ahead. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the stainless-steel blade, combine the almond milk, soy milk powder, agave nectar, coconut extract and vanilla. Process for 2 minutes.
With the machine running, slowly pour in half of the coconut oil through the feed tube; then half of the lemon juice; and then the remaining half of each. Continue processing until thoroughly blended. Pour the frosting into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until it has firmed up enough to spread, about 6 hours.
For the cupcakes, position the oven rack in the middle level and preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Line two 12-cup muffin tins or four standard-sized 6-cup muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, potato starch, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Stir well with a wire whisk until thoroughly blended.
In a separate bowl, combine the agave nectar, hot coffee, coconut oil, applesauce and vanilla. Stir with a whisk until thoroughly blended. Add this wet mixture all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir with a whisk until a smooth batter forms.
Transfer the batter to a large measuring cup, or use a ladle, and pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups until each is nearly full. Transfer to the middle rack of the preheated oven. After 15 minutes, rotate the tins front to back and continue baking until the cupcakes rise nicely, look firm and spring back when gently pressed at their centers, about 7 minutes longer.
Remove the tins from the oven, and leave the cupcakes to rest in the tins at room temperature for 20 minutes. Then, remove the cupcakes from the tins and leave on wire racks to cool completely.
When the cupcakes have cooled completely, use an icing spatula to spread the frosting on top of each one. Serve immediately, or store in a single layer in an airtight container at cool room temperature.(c) 2019 WOLFGANG PUCK WORLDWIDE, INC. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.