Cake Mix Revamping: Citrus Ginger Chip Cupcakes

“I knew you had food allergies….”

A very kind woman whom I had only recently met brought me a hostess gift which was a basket of Bob’s Red Mill gluten free cake mixes. It was lovely of her to be considerate of my allergies, and I appreciated her thoughtfulness.

Now for true confessions: I hold a prejudice against a majority of cake mixes. They have too much sugar, use the the worst type of flour with no protein or fiber, and usually are not very tasty, in my opinion. I will admit that some of that is changing. I have seen whole grain cake mixes on the market, as well as mixes claiming to have less sugar. I will also concede that using a cake mix when you are rushed for time will shave off five to ten minutes of prep time, and the convenience of that can be worthwhile to folks.

I decided to make the best of the situation, because as strong as my prejudice is, stronger still are my feelings about wasting anything. My family will tell you that I will turn leftovers into new meal after meal until every morsel is gone, rather than throw food out.

So, I assessed the Bob’s Red Mill Vanilla Yellow Cake mix to see what I could do. I could not change the sugar content or the lack of fiber and protein, but I could make sure not to add any more sugars than needed. I decided, therefore, to make cupcakes with no frosting, but I would need to jazz up the flavor if there was not going to be frosting. To do so, I zooped uncrystallized candied ginger with Enjoy Life chocolate chunks and mixed that in with the cake mix, along with some orange zest. While the candied ginger and chocolate chunks still had sugar, it would be much less than using frosting.

Once I figured out the flavors, I needed to think about the ingredients I needed to add to the mix. The recipe called for 3 eggs. I opted to use 1/2 cup of egg whites with one whole egg. It also called for melted butter or vegetable oil. I chose to substitute extra light olive oil.

When the cupcakes were done and cooled, I have to say I was not unduly upset with the result. It was still a cake mix batter with too much sugar and no protein or fiber, but it was tastier, and I had added a good fat and reduced some of the bad fat and calories. Also, as my husband is quick to point out, indulging in something not as good for you every once in a while usually will not hurt you.

Citrus Ginger Chip Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup uncrystallized candied ginger

1 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chunks

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Vanilla Yellow Cake mix

2 tsp dried grated orange peel

1/2 cup egg whites

1 egg

1/2 cup extra light olive oil

1/2 cup water

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line 18 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
  2. In a food processor, zoop the candied ginger and the chocolate chunks several minutes into very small pieces.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cake mix and the ginger/chocolate pieces, adding the dried orange peel.
  4. Add the egg whites, egg, oil, and water, and using a mixer, blend slowly at first until all the ingredients are incorporated. Then on a higher speed, mix the batter for a minute or so until it’s thick and well mixed.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the 18 muffin cups.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until the cupcakes are puffed, firm to the touch, and/or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (When I baked them, it took 22 minutes.)
  7. Cool in the tins for about five minutes. Then remove them to a wire cooling rack to completely cool.
  8. Enjoy!

 

Creative Cooking: Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

“Well, it’s not actually my birthday….”

Growing up, my family did not have birthday parties because every person’s birthday was near a major holiday which made parties a bit difficult. Either life was too busy to plan a party or everyone else was too busy and unable to come. So, we developed a family tradition of going to see a movie as a family, followed by pizza and ice cream cake.

I never really thought too much about how my family celebrated birthdays until I had children and their friends began inviting them to birthday parties. It seemed that every 3 year old in preschool was having a party, and not just any party, but a big blowout party at some special location charging exorbitant amounts of money to entertain the entire preschool class for two to three hours.

Never one to follow the trends, I was not inclined to throw a big birthday bash, but I did come to see how celebrating our children’s birthdays with others, even on a small scale, could be special. Unfortunately, two of our children were born in the summer and one just before Christmas which made parties difficult. So, we began a tradition of hosting birthday parties a month or two before their actual birthdays, which confused people but allowed our children to experience the joy of marking their birth with friends.

All my thoughts about birthdays swirled together this week when a mom asked about a dilemma she had: Her young daughter did not like either chocolate or yellow cupcakes but wanted cupcakes for her birthday party. She also is allergic to eggs, wheat, soy, and dairy, and can’t eat bananas or berries for non-allergy health reasons. The mom needed a suggestion for something which would be “special” for her daughter’s party.

I had just the thing: cinnamon chocolate chip cupcakes. Chocolate chips make everything special, or at least according to my children! And cinnamon is a different but complementary flavor that is not yellow or chocolate cupcakes. And if you add cinnamon frosting, it’s a hit with everyone, children and adults alike.

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

(makes 24 cupcakes)

Ingredients:

2 2/3 cup gluten free flour blend (I used a whole grain sorghum flour blend by Bob’s Red Mill for this recipe)

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

4 tsp egg replacer (I used Bob’s Red Mill for this recipe)

1 cup Enjoy Life mini chips

2 tbsp ground flax seed

1/2 cup “milk” (I used coconut milk for this recipe since the girl was allergic to dairy and soy but any other type will work too)

1 cup solid “fat” (I used coconut oil but a vegan soy free butter or vegan shortening will work just as well)

2 cups coconut sugar (folks can always use sugar if that is preferable)

1 cup additional “milk” (I used coconut milk for this recipe since the girl was allergic to dairy and soy but any other type will work too)

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins with paper cupcake liners.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and egg replacer. Stir in the chocolate chips, and set aside.
  3. Mix the ground flax seed with the milk and set aside.
  4. Cream the coconut oil (or chosen fat) with the coconut sugar (or sugar), scraping down as needed.
  5. Add the additional milk to the thickened flax seed mixture, and add the flour and the wet ingredients to the creamed sugar mixture, alternating dry and wet in batches, blending just until all the ingredients are incorporated into one another.
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes until the cupcakes are golden and puffed and firm to the touch.  A toothpick inserted in the center will come out with only a dry crumb or two attached.
  8. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a five minutes in the tins, and then remove them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. Frost with favorite frosting and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Cinnamon Frosting: Cream 1/2 cup vegan butter or coconut oil or vegan shortening with 1 cup powdered sugar. Add 1/4 cup coconut cream and blend well. Mix in enough powdered sugar to make a soft frosting. (Usually another cup.) Chill the frosting in the fridge until ready to frost the cupcakes.