Monday, June 4, 2012

Strawberry, basil and balsamic cupcakes

One of the great challenges of living with food allergies is satisfying cravings. My biggest weakness is sweets. I have to constantly have something sweet on hand or else I go completely mad trying to find something. And now that I can't have corn or wheat, my selection has narrowed immensely.

Most prepackaged sweets these days include corn syrup. Even some gluten-free ones use either that or corn starch. And what would streamline baked goods be without flour? Add to all of that my mom's allergy to sugar and we are a sad pair when it comes to satisfying a sweet tooth.

So Saturday I went about trying to find an alternative that we both could eat. I wanted to make a strawberry cupcake and upon finding not one single recipe that didn't include either a cake mix or a box of strawberry jello (gross!), I decided to wing it a little bit. I was entirely nervous about it, though. Winging baked goods is risky for me anyway because I'm always so scared I'll mess it all up and then waste all of the food involved. But winging gluten-free baking? Super scary. But it turned out pretty well, so I figured I'd share the recipe with you.

Strawberry, basil and balsamic cupcakes



Strawberry cake


(adapted from Sprinkles Cupcakes' strawberry cupcake recipe)

2/3 cup whole fresh strawberries, pureed (you can use frozen if that's all you've got, but it's summer and strawberries are aplenty!)

1 1/2 cups Bob's Redmill gluten-free all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup brown rice syrup

1 large egg, room temperature

2 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small glass measuring cup (easier to pour from...but you can use a bowl), mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree.In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add brown rice syrup and continue to beat until well combined. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.


Balsamic whipped cream frosting


2 cups heavy whipping cream

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp brown rice syrup

Whip it all together in your mixer until light and fluffy. Apply to cupcakes and garnish with fresh chopped basil and chopped strawberries. (I did overbeat my frosting a little bit...it still tasted ok, but it looks a little like cottage cheese in some photos)


The response to these was varied. My mom, who can't have sugar loved them (although she, of course, wished they were sweeter). My sister-in-law, the one who adores almost everything I bake, wasn't a fan. Not sweet enough for her either. My nephew devoured hers. Friends of ours, Christie and Nic, loved them to Japan and back.



Jim and I liked them enough. They're great considering what they are. The cake is moist and pretty dense as most gluten-free stuff seems to be. There wasn't enough basil flavor really, but I'm remedying that one in the next round. I'm going to make a small batch for my mom and do the rest with sugar...a simple syrup infused with basil and a regular old buttercream frosting...with balsamic in it.


I'll let you know how it goes.

3 comments:

  1. LOVE that you used brown rice syrup for these - a sweetener I adore for its nutritional make-up but often forget to use. I know that not everyone liked them but knowing that I don't require much sweetness, I would just make 'em as is. If they weren't quite sweet enough I could just add a few droppers of stevia. That tends to sweeten things up pretty fast! But the idea behind them is fabulous! Balsamic??? Yes!

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  2. I know what it's like to sometimes need to make two meals. My American palate occasionally clashes with my Australian husband. "It's too sweet" (as if that's possible!) or "pulled pork looks like someone ate it before I got there." (he doesn't know what he's missing.

    Your cupcakes sound perfect! Love strawberries and balsamic. Btw.. it's not summer everywhere. :)

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  3. I guess I forget that sometimes! Our seasons are opposite!

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