Corona Cooking: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

“It depends on your perspective….”

For many of us, the topsy-turvy daily changing world we are currently living in as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic is not welcomed. We fear for more than just our physical health. The closing of schools can exacerbate familial tensions. Mandated work leave may bring financial hardship. Social distancing can increase already felt isolation. Much stands to be lost, both globally and locally.

Yet, for just as many, this is an opportunity to embrace rest from the stresses of the daily grind and routine. Some see this as a time to be with family members we have too little time for in the midst of the usual “rushing here and there” lives we live. Others have been taking the unexpected time at home to spring clean or to create or to try something new. Many have been connecting more via social media, encouraging one another, even as social distancing prevents physical gatherings.

Perspective is an interesting concept. It refers to the view from which someone considers something, and recently I realized just how different my perspective is from a well-known cooking organization. “Ground-breaking recipes” in bold letters hailed my attention across the grocery aisle. I wondered what they had learned which those of us who had been cooking gluten free for years did not already know.

On the positive side, I was glad that this particular organization had created a gluten free issue of their magazine. It seemed to me, they’d been slow to do so. As I read through their recipes and suggestions, they appeared to offer good advice and had great tips, a couple of which I actually hadn’t tried myself before. They even had a short section at the end about those who are dairy sensitive as well as gluten, offering some ways to alter their recipes.

Where I took issue, though, was very bald statements they made about the fact that in order to create tasty gluten free food, only white rice flour should be used, that if you deviate from their homemade versions of flour blends you do so at your own risk, and that only a few of their recipes should be amended because the butter, whole eggs, and sugar were necessary. Since white rice flour has absolutely no nutritional value, and few people have the time to make their own homemade flour blends, and even more people are trying to eat healthier with less butter, whole eggs, and sugar, I found myself a bit put-out overall by the magazine.

And since I have a bit of time on my hands these days, I decided to see if I could literally make the magazine eat their words. I took one of their recipes for a dark chocolate cupcake and altered it to see if the difference was as stark as the magazine indicated it would be. My test-eaters agreed it was not, and that they actually preferred the version I had created. So, I share it here with you now, in case you, too, have some unexpected time to bake.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 cup safflower oil

3/4 cup Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips

2/3 cup Hershey unsweetened Special Dark cocoa powder

1 1/4 cup King Arthur whole grain gluten free flour blend

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup liquid egg whites

2 whole eggs

2 tsp gluten free vanilla

1 cup coconut sugar or monk fruit sweetener blend

1 cup non-dairy milk (soy or oat or flax)

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffin/cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large microwave safe measuring cup, melt together the safflower oil, dark chocolate chips, and unsweetened cocoa powder by microwaving for a minute and stirring until everything is smooth and completely melted. Set aside to cool.
  3. Combine in a bowl, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the egg whites, eggs, vanilla and coconut or monk fruit sugar until well mixed.
  5. To the large bowl of liquid ingredients, add the cooled chocolate and milk, blending well.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the the liquid and stir until all ingredients are completely incorporated and mixture is smooth.
  7. Divide the batter evenly among the lined tins.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes until the cupcakes are puffed, dry and firm to the touch.
  9. Remove from the tins and allow the cupcakes to cool on wire cooling racks.
  10. Eat as is or frost with desired frosting.

 

 

Healthy Habits: Vegan Dark Chocolate No Added Sugar Cupcakes

“No sweeteners except fruit are allowed….”

This past weekend, I was tasked with figuring out how to make a chocolate cupcake which would not only be dairy, egg, soy, gluten, and nut/peanut free but which also could not include any sweeteners like sugar, agave, honey, molasses, maple syrup, stevia, etc…. And of course, the recipient wanted the cupcakes to be fudgy and “healthy” as well.

Folks who have food allergies know how difficult it can be to find and/or make desserts which are free of whatever one can’t eat. When you add to that difficulty, though, that it has to be vegan and have absolutely no sweetener other than fruit, things become exponentially more complicated for ensuring the baked product tastes good.

Not one to give up, however, I figured out a way to make exactly what was ordered… a fudgy, dark chocolate cupcake which had some healthy greens mixed in and which used only fruit sweeteners. What came to my rescue was an apple butter pure fruit spread – apple butter sweetened only by fruit and no sugar. The result was quite tasty, even though it wasn’t sweet.

Vegan Dark Chocolate No Sugar Cupcakes 

(makes one dozen)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup gluten free flour (I used King Arthur’s whole grain version)

1/2 cup Country Farms Super Greens powder (you can omit this and just substitute another cup of gluten free flour, if you’re not interested in adding “healthy greens”)

1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup plant based milk (I used unsweetened gluten free oat milk)

1/2 cup plant based oil (I used avocado oil because it brings out chocolate flavors well)

1 cup apple butter pure fruit spread (I found this at a local store; made with only fruit)

1 1/2 tsp gluten free vanilla

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.
  2. Mix together the gluten free flour, greens, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Mix together the water, oat milk, avocado oil, apple butter, and vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, along with the vinegar and whisk together until well blended.
  5. Divide the batter evening among the twelve cups. The cupcake liners will be filled almost to the top.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until the cupcakes puff and a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Mine took 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the muffin tin to a wire cooling rack and allow the cupcakes to cool about five to ten minutes in the tin before removing them. They will collapse a bit, but that is what makes them fudgy.
  8. Remove the cupcakes from the tin and cool completely. They keep well in a covered tupper ware.