Tag Archives: Baking

Gluten Free Grasshopper Cupcakes: Mint-Chocolate & Chocolate Chip

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Gluten Free Mint-Chocolate Cupcakes
Gluten Free Mint-Chocolate Cupcakes

Gluten Free Mint-Chocolate Cupcakes

A couple months ago, a colleague brought me some small gluten free cupcakes from a local bakery.  They were “grasshopper” cupcakes, she told me.  I was curious.  She handed me the box and smiled.  Said because they were gluten free, she snapped them up as she “knew someone” who could enjoy them.  I’m the lucky someone, I told her.  I thanked her profusely for thinking of me and promised to give them a try at lunch time. (It was 7AM, after all, when she delivered them.)  The school day started with the rush of students, papers, lessons, activities, things to manage, etc and soon lunch arrived.

I opened the box of cupcakes.   There were FOUR of them.  Four?  Hot dog!

And then I looked more closely.  Egad…they were CHOCOLATE!  I know this sounds ridiculous, but I am really NOT a fan of chocolate cake.  I am fairly certain my aversion to chocolate cake and ice cream stems from a not-too-fun incident when I was 6.

We had just moved in to our new house on the East Coast when my family noticed a birthday party of little girls in the nearby cup-de-sac.  Since they were all my age, I was encouraged and “included”…. and petrified.  I didn’t know any of them – but my anxiety tends to display itself as super-social behavior.  I guess it fit the birthday party mode.  What didn’t fit was the superhuman consumption of chocolate cake (GIANT portions with major frosting) and chocolate ice cream (HUGE SCOOP).  I …. well…. ended the party ill.  And never socialized with the little girls in the nearby cul-de-sac again.  (Way to kick off a new school/new school year with a reputation, huh?)

Needless to say, I was bummed to see chocolate cupcakes.  Since I had told my colleague I would let her know what they were like, I forced myself to take a small bite of one.  And wow.  They were good cupcakes!  They were light, had an airy crumb and tasted nicely.  (They were a bit crumbly…but hello? Gluten free!)  I shared the other three cupcakes with 3 of my students who are also gluten intolerant or have Celiac Disease.  (It’s amazing to me the number of kids who are gluten free now – we even have a “gluten free club” in the high school!).  They were a hit with everyone.

And I thought about going down to pick up more cupcakes from that bakery another day.  So about 2 weeks ago before Valentine’s Day, I brought the girls down there to pick up some cupcakes for Valentine’s dessert.  Everyday the flavors offered change (apparently) and I was bummed to discover that the gluten free cupcake “of the day” was not Grasshopper.  To boot, each standard (as in what you would make at home = smallish cupcake) cost $2.50 – or “$30/dozen)  (Ummmm..hello?).  Needless to say, I will not be a cupcake-purchasing Momma again for a while.

And the girls?  Well, one of them ate the frosting off their cupcake and the other took 3 bites of the cake before declaring she was “done”.  Next time I will buy one for them to split and save myself the wallet-busting heartache when I tossed the uneaten cupcakes into the trash.

But I still couldn’t get over the cupcake my colleague had given me.  So I set out to make one myself.

Recipe Testing

Recipe testing

I’m happy to report that I ditched the ratios, squashed the “dense cupcake” dilemma and discovered the best cupcake I’ve had in a VERY long time.  I have thoroughly tested this recipe (have made it at least 6 times in the last two weeks) and sent samples out and about in the world with a wide variety of testers: (1) gluten intolerant/celiac “used to the gluten free baked good” crowd, (2) my non-gluten free  but utterly wonderful colleagues who have tasted a dozen + recipes for me without complaint but great tips; (3) the toddler/youngster set in the house and with my friends; and this time – I dared request testers from my could-be-professional cake-baker buddies.  Really.  One of my colleagues could easily retire and bake cakes for big bucks for people.  (PS.  And she’s grossed out by gluten free stuff…ha!)

All of my testers have report HAPPY and DELICIOUS results.  I hope you will too.  Even the pro-baker-to-be has requested the recipe for when she may need a gluten free go-to cake. She said, and I quote “I would have NEVER known that this was a gluten free cake.  It was perfect.”   (Yes!)

A recipe tester

 

GFGrasshopperCupcakes

I hope you enjoy these cupcakes as much we have.  If you noticed, I’m trying to figure out the best recipe-print plugin for my new blog format.  Forgive me for playing around a bit until we figure it out. :D

Happy cupcake baking – I’m on to my next task:  converting this recipe for a lighter, airy non-chocolate version.  So far?  So good!

~Kate

Gluten Free Basic White Cake

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Gluten Free Ratio Rally

Baking with a cause: YOU and getting you back in the kitchen too!

I’ve written this post a million times over since I decided to host this month’s Gluten Free Ratio Rally.  Way back in the beginning, I signed up for this with high hopes – and I was being completely selfish when I chose the task:  cakes.  And white/yellow cakes.  (Sorry, chocolate cake fans..although a few bloggers appealed to you, I was really on the hunt for fabulous GF white cakes.)

I say selfishly because I do have some fabulous cake recipes.  My favorites are my sponge cake recipe and the mini-vanilla filled cupcakes.  But really, I have been longing for layer cakes due to their versatility.  My favorite cakes have always been white layer cakes.  It’s true!  Even since I started making cakes in our house when I was in elementary school. (I did a fine job of both trashing the kitchen and baking a decent cake.)  My favorite white cake recipe is still being worked on to convert it to gluten free.  I needed some help.  And some inspiration.

And (I hoped)  I can’t be the only one with an aversion to chocolate cakes. (Right??)

And I say that reluctantly because I know that some very fabulous people in my life have made some incredible flourless chocolate cakes for me (birthdays at work, etc).  I’ve eaten each slice with a smile.  But I have a confession to make:  I’ve never liked chocolate cakes.  At the age of six, I completely overindulged:  chocolate cake + chocolate ice cream + first day in new state/neighborhood/house = bad news for the future of chocolate cake in my life.  I am refraining from using details here … after all, this *IS* supposed to be a food blog.

So you see, I am selfish in my quest for the *perfect* gluten free non-chocolate cake.  I’m not the only one who realizes the beauty of a white cake – the versatility, etc.  Oh yes. A white cake is where it is at, people!  And you will see from this month’s ratio posters just how fabulously versatile it is!

I fell on a sword this month taste-testing over 9 cake recipes ideas in four weeks.  Not too pointy of a sword, mind you.  If the cake tasted great, but failed?  I have crumbled them into a baggie and made some “cake pops” for my daughter(s) and I.  We share one “cake pop” after swim lessons.  But I think I’m going to have to invest in some swim time for myself after a month of cake eating.  Ay ay ay!

I’ve discovered a few things about cake baking – especially gluten free cake baking – that I’d taken for granted previously.

  1. Watch your baking time CAREFULLY and check often – especially within the last 5-6 minutes.  An over baked gluten free cake = the Sahara Desert in your mouth.
  2. Have your eggs and butter at room temperature.  But don’t do this if you live without air-conditioning and your house is 80F.  Not cool.
  3. Add your eggs one by one and beat them in for a couple of minutes before adding the next.  (No matter how hard your child pulls on your legs/hands.  Add the eggs one at a time!)
  4. Parchment lined/bottomed cake pans are just as fabulous as dusting them with gluten free flour – and easier for me.
  5. Gluten free cake batter is definitely thicker than gluten-filled cake batter.  Don’t stress when you see it.
And most importantly:  the RATIO makes a difference.  You really do have to measure the flours by weight if you are going to change up the flours you chose to use.  If you see a cake within the several that will be shared today as part of the rally, please do take the time to use the flours they chose to use.  For each of the cakes I made, I used 228g of flour.  Sometimes this was the equivalent of 1 cup of rice flour + 1/2 cup tapioca flour OR 1 cup of rice flour + 1/3 cup potato starch OR 1 cup millet flour + 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons sweet rice flour.  Yikes.
I wanted to make a cake that anyone could make with readily available flours that are relatively inexpensive as far as gluten free flours go.  I wanted it to be something your best friend could make for you or your mom or your colleague if they wished to.  So many times our diet is intimidating and expensive.  I just wanted to simplify it all.  (And I’m not going to tell you about my initial starts of using whole grains, less sugar, etc because <girl smacks self in head now> I was making a cake.  I gave myself permission not to think about applesauce in lieu of butter, etc.  I just wanted a cake.  And a good one at that.
I ended up with several.  From one recipe too.

GF Basic White Cake
The basic cake.  With only the primary frosting on.  I had intended to frost this further, but the Chicklet got a hold of the sprinkles and she went to town.  So, it stayed just like this:  minimal frosting and a fabulous crumb.
GF Basic White Cake with Raspberry Jam center

For these little cupcakes, we filled them with a dollop of raspberry jam – (and some with Nutella – YUM!).  No frosting was needed.

GF Basic White Cake with Strawberry Jam and Strawberry ButtercreamSimilar to the one above, filled with sliced strawberries and topped with fresh strawberry buttercream frosting.  All things pink are met with approval from the Chicklet.

The ratio for a basic cake is as follows:

1:1:1:1

Egg : Sugar : Flour : Butter

I’m not convinced that I’ve achieved the cake I dream of.  But, in looking at the titles of the cakes of my fellow GF Ratio Rally participants, I see that I have a fabulous future of cake testing ahead of me.  (Tiramisu! Confetti Cake! Lemon Tea Cake! – just to name a few!)  Maybe one of you will find a way to make it even more fabulous.  That is the beauty of being a gluten free community:  learning, sharing and growing together.

Basic Gluten Free White Cake

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces – 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces – 1 cup (226 grams) sugar
  • 4 eggs + 1 yolk
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 226 grams “My” gluten free flour mix, sifted (1 1/2 cups + 2 teaspoons)
  • OR 175 grams (1 scant cup) rice flour + 50 grams (1/3 cup) potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line the bottom of two 8 inch cake rounds with parchment paper OR butter each and flour with rice flour (NOT the rice flour called for in the recipe – please use 1 Tablespoon or 2 in addition to that called for in the recipe).
  2. Beat butter in the mixer until light and creamy.
  3. Add sugar.  Beat again for several minutes (3-4) on medium until light and fluffy.
  4. Add one egg.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Add next egg and beat again 2 more minutes.  Repeat until all eggs have been incorporated thoroughly.
  5. Add extracts.  Mix in.
  6. Sift together flour(s), baking powder and salt.  Add to cake batter.  Mix in carefully so as not to lose the softness created from mixing in the eggs/sugar.
  7. Divide into cake rounds evenly.  Smooth the surface with a wet spatula.  (I found it helpful to have a glass of water nearby and I kept dipping the rubber spatula into the water to keep the batter from sticking.)
  8. Bake until the top is just golden brown and a toothpick (or cake tester) inserted comes out shiny but not sticky – about 18-20 minutes.  Check your cake as you approach the 15 minute mark at a minimum to avoid over-baking.
  9. Remove from pans by flipping on to cooling racks after removing from the oven.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.
If you want to, this recipe easily converts in to cupcakes.  Bake for 15 – 18 minutes for 12 cupcakes.  When making cupcakes, we loved adding dollops of goodness (homemade raspberry or strawberry jams, Nutella, etc) in to the center of each cupcake and then we topped them with more batter.  These additions also added moisture to the cakes as well and helped them last longer. (Well, as long as a cupcakes can last around kids.)

Please check out the other fabulous Gluten Free Ratio Rally participants and their cakes, I know I will be doing taste-tests frequently from their ideas.  In fact, my sister-in-law is coming this week for a visit… so we have another birthday cake to make.  (Great excuse, huh?)

Gluten free Fresh Ginger and Rhubarb Crisp

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Fresh ginger and rhubard crisp:  Gluten free, of course.

Growing up we used to have a couple rhubarb plants outside the cabin door.  I’m sure they were there every year, but I didn’t always notice.  After all, there were blueberries in our yard and across the street.  BLUEBERRIES!  Yum!  And I’m sure my childhood memories are off in their timing, but I remember always wishing for a “blueberry pie on the 4th of July” as my Dad would say was possible when he was little.  But really? I don’t think we hardly ever had the luck of a pie on the 4th.  I never minded the blueberry hunt, however.

But one year my mom made strawberry and rhubarb pie for our 4th of July.  (Once again, no blueberries were to be found in time.)  Oh, that pie  was delicious.  Ever since that pie, I paid attention to that funky looking rhubarb plant with new interest.  That thing had potential!

While we didn’t receive the rhubarb in our CSA, it was available through the local food organization we’ve been trying out this month.  (See this post for more info.)  And even though I didn’t have a clue as to what I would end up doing with the bunch I ordered, I went ahead and ordered them anyway.

I have made a GF rhubarb cake, but that’s not what I was craving. I wanted more rhubarb flavor.  We had strawberries on hand so I was thinking a pie like my mom made.  But the strawberries were demolished by my Love and the girls with such glee that I just had to find a plan B.

So I called my mom.  :D

I asked her for her recipe for a rhubarb crisp.  She found one for rhubarb pudding that called for an egg.  An egg?  That did not convince me.  I’m not really a “pudding” kind of gal.  And then was the possible bread pudding with rhubarb.  Again, not appealing.  Not only do we not have GF bread on hand, but I really wanted the rhubarb to have its bold flavors be the center stage.

I read to her the section about rhubarb from the book “The Flavor Bible“.  (This book lists fabulous flavor combinations/suggestions but is not a recipe book.  I’ve been loving the fact that I have this on hand, especially for my CSA deliveries.  It’s helping me change things up a bit from our routine cooking/baking.)  When I saw ginger listed, I knew I had to try it.  I love fresh ginger and we had just purchased some that is so fabulously yellow and bright flavored, I couldn’t resist.

I only wish my mom were here to reap the benefit of recipe planning over the phone with me.  I think she would have enjoyed this too. We have a lot of telephone-recipe conversations.  These calls happen A LOT when I am at the grocery store and saw something fabulous.  I call my mom and she’d tell me what she would make/do with whatever I had in hand.  My poor mom.  But hey, at least she knows that we’re eating healthy!  LOL

So, here’s to you, Mom.  Make this o the 4th of July for the family.  I’m sorry we won’t be there to see the scraggly rhubarb plant (if it still there) in person. I can’t wait for my girls to get “Up North” and play like I used to.  Maybe they will take an interest in that rhubarb plant too.

I love you, mom!

GF  Fresh Ginger and Rhubarb Crisp

You can open a printable copy of this recipe here.

Ingredients:
3 cups cleaned, chopped rhubarb (halve the stalk, then 1/4 inch pieces)
1 cup sugar
1/2 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup sweet rice flour
Crisp topping:
1 cup certified gluten free oats
1/3 cup crushed nuts (walnuts or pecans) optional
1/3 – 1/2 cup butter, room temperature  (more if you want bigger chunks of topping, less if you want it more crumbly)
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Clean, halve and chop your rhubarb stalks into 1/4-1/3 inch pieces.  Toss into a large bowl.
  2. Grate some of the fresh ginger (about 1/4 of it) over the rhubarb.  (I used a microplane, so I had some ginger juice dripping in too.) Finely chop the remaining ginger (into slices, then smaller pieces).  Add to the rhubarb.
  3. Over the top of the rhubarb, pour the sugar, orange juice and sweet rice flour.  Mix well.
  4. Pour into a 9 by 13 inch baking dish/pan.
  5. In the same bowl, add your room temperature butter, oats, brown sugar and salt.
  6. Squish together (I either use my hand or a potato masher).
  7. Sprinkle on top of the rhubarb.
  8. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until the crisp topping is golden brown and the crisp is bubbling nicely around the edges.
  9. Allow to cool a bit before enjoying (hot sugar!).
  10. Serve as is or with a dollop of coconut ice cream.

Enjoy!
~Kate

PS.  If you are looking for a basic crisp recipe, here’s the one I shared ages ago (again, with love from my mom):  GF Apple Crisp