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