Chocolate “bling-bling” Cupcakes

Oh WOE is Me!  Poor poor Bebe!  No gluten…No fun!

Well, I sure have you all fooled.  I’m secretly delighted when I bake something and after everyone devours it with great satisfaction, I tell them that it didn’t contain any gluten ingredients.

This week, at the start of Lent, my 9-year-old son came to me and announced that he was “giving up gluten” for Lent.  Partially because he wanted to be a better eater in hopes it would bring on a growth spurt (in his mind), but the second reason was incredible.  He has been telling me for years that there was something in his nose, but it wasn’t a “booger.”  When I (or his doctor) would look, he would point at the inflamed tissues of his nasal cavity.  He said he was tired of trying to eliminate it digitally (which I was constantly yelling him for picking his nose) and told his dad and I that he wanted to see if eliminating gluten would get rid of that awful feeling.

When I explained to him that he would have to give up his usual cereal, bread and snacks and only eat mine, he was fine.  He wasn’t even fazed.  To take even more stress off, I explained that Cool Ranch Doritos don’t contain gluten ingredients, and that’s all he needed to hear.  To make it easy for him and give him some independence, I wrote a “G” on everything in our food pantry that he could eat.  Much to both our surprise, there were a lot of “G’s” to choose from.  Matter of fact, there were more “G’s” than not, and we never even realized it.

It was unfortunate that he decided to go gluten-free the day before Valentine’s Day.  Being the home room mom, I took class room parties very seriously.  I’m used to coordinating allergy free products for other children, but never for my own.  Instead of providing gluten-full snacks for the class and one gluten-free for my son, I decided to make the class a gluten-free snack and not tell them the ingredients.  We went to the library, found a Betty Crocker cupcake book in the recipe section and found a recipe for marshmallow filled chocolate cupcakes.  Yum-Yum!

The morning of the party, I prepared a box of Betty Crocker gluten-free chocolate as cupcakes.  It’s a very easy recipe that calls for 3 ingredients (just like the gluten-full box mix), but it required a full stick of butter.  YIKES!  Not very healthy.

I hallowed out the inside of the cupcakes with a grapefruit knife and filled the centers with a mixture of vanilla icing and marshmallow cream.  So easy!  I replaced the top of the hallowed out section and iced each cake with plain white icing and topped it with a sweet tart.

My son was thrilled when he passed them out to the class, waited until they devoured them and announced that they were gluten-free.  No one cared and everyone was sad that there was only enough to have one per person.  I would’ve made more, but they were quite expensive to make at $4.50 +/- box, plus the price of butter and eggs.  Yikes!

It was all worth it to keep my son on the right track and hopefully give him some relief from his discomfort.  I’m keeping a log to see if he has that growth spurt and how he’s feeling through the next 40 days.

Recipe for Marshmallow Creme-Filled Cupcakes (12 cupcakes per box)

Cupcakes

  • 1 Box Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix
  • Water, Butter & Eggs called for on cake box mix

Filling

  • 1 Cup Vanilla whipped ready-to-spread frosting
  • 1/2 cup marshmallow creme

Frosting

  • 1 can Vanilla whipped ready-to-spread frosting

Pre-heat oven as directed on box mix.  Place paper baking cups in each of 12 muffin cups. Make and bake cake mix as directed on box using water, butter and eggs.  Cool 10 minutes then transfer onto cooling rack to cool completely.

With a knife, melon baller or grapefruit knife, make deep, cut or 1/2-in-wide indentation in center of each cupcake.  In a small bowl, mix 1 cup vanilla frosting and marshmallow creme.  Transfer to a pastry bag or plastic bag with the tip cut-off.  Using a pastry bag, fill each cupcake with creme mixture.  Replace hole cover if necessary.  Cover tops of cupcakes with icing and decorate with your favorite gluten-free sprinkles or colored sugars.

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Cup4Cup

I have a confession….I’m addicted to buying gluten-free flour.  I stop in the aisles of every grocery store, TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Ross and Tuesday Morning to see what unique gluten-free flours are hidden on their shelves.  I used to buy them for the curiosity, trying to figure out what each type of flour was good for.  Then I bought them for necessity once I knew the flour types that worked for my recipes.  But, most recently, I find myself buying blends of flours that help me recreate the flavors from my “previous” life, also known as my “gluten-full” past.

For the last two years, I’ve stood by the mantra, “it’s not about elimination, it’s about substitution,” but secretly, I missed my homemade scones, muffins and coffee cakes.  I do enjoy using almond flour for my recipes, but it’s too decadent (and expensive) for a 7-year-old to “hork-down.”

When last I counted, I have 9 different types of flours in my closet.  I call it my “flour bin” and everyone in the house knows when I pull it out, something is going in the oven.  Much of the time I don’t use flour blends.  I’ll use corn or rice flour for breading, almond and coconut flour for flavor and texture and tapioca and rice flour for thickening.

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However, for baking I did try to make my own flour blend using brown rice flour, tapioca flour and garbonzo bean flour.  I’ll be honest, it was nutritionally better for me, but there was a strong “beanie” after taste that didn’t work in baking.

For Christmas, I received a bag of Cup4Cup baking flour from my San Francisco sister.  It was a VERY generous gift as she paid around $25 for the 2 lb. bag (Wegmans has it for $15ish).  Cup4Cup was “developed in the famed French Laundry kitchen in Napa Valley, Calif. Co-founder Lena Kwak, then the restaurant’s R&D Chef, started devising a gluten-free flour blend. One day, a diner tasted Lena’s brioche and cried because she hadn’t eaten bread for a decade. Inspired, Lena refined the proprietary multipurpose blend, encouraged by her mentor, Thomas Keller, Chef/Owner of The French Laundry”.

Cup4Cup Flour

The true test of flours in my house is the Toll House Chocolate Cookie recipe.  My family LOVES them.  I’ve perfected the “puffy” style (more cake like) using wheat flour, so I was curious to see if I could recreate the texture using C4C.  I’m excited to say, they were darn near perfect.  Matter of fact, the whole family agreed that their flavor didn’t taste any different from the “gluten-full” style they were used to.

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Next I made Grandma’s Blueberry Buttermilk Coffee Cake.

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Again, the flavor and texture were EXACTLY like the original “gluten-full” recipe.  This was the closest in taste I’ve been able to come to the original since going gluten-free two years ago.

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Since everyone liked the C4C recipes, there is no longer a need to make separate pans of “gluten-free” and “gluten-full” for my family.  This cuts down on the chances of cross-contamination, saves money on all the ingredients, and only having one type of flour in the house, instead of nine, is going to save us even more money.

Can’t wait to try their new pizza dough flour!  That will allow me to get the three different types of pizza crusts out of my pantry as well!

Thanks C4C for making life a little easier in my house!

Nancy’s Buttermilk Coffee Cake Recipe

Heat oven to 350 degrees – Grease 9″ round cake pan

Cake:

1/2 cup Butter Softened
1 cup Sugar
2 cup Cup4Cup Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 cup Buttermilk
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
Topping:
1/4 cup of crumb mixture (above)
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine butter, sugar, C4C, salt and baking powder in a bowl with a pastry blender until crumbled into small pieces.

Dissolve baking soda into buttermilk and add to dry ingredients.

Stir until moistened (it’s very thick).  Pour into greased 9″ round pan and poke with 1/4 c. blueberries (if desired).  Sprinkle with topping.  Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Gluten-Free Labeling

Today I went to a talk sponsored by our local GIG (Gluten Intolerance Group) Group.

Gluten Intolerance Group

It was presented by Cynthia Kupper, Executive Director of GIG.  If you haven’t joined a GIG Group or attended a GIG meeting, you really should.  You leave the meeting with great information.  Today they had a raffle and snacks, so you left with a full belly, and lucky for me a gift certificate to a local restaurant (I won the raffle!). My favorite part is talking with people at the end of the meeting to hear about their journeys.  There is always comfort in hearing what other people have experienced.

Here are a few good points that I walked away with about reading labels…

  1. Make sure it says “Gluten-Free.”
  2. Look through the ingredients list to make sure it doesn’t include; wheat, barley, rye, malt, oats or brewers yeast.
  3. Be aware of hidden words on USDA stamped foods like; dextrin, food starch, modified food starch .
  4. Don’t trust the Voluntary Advisory Statement.  Not all companies use it correctly.  It’s more to cover them from liability and may not pertain to the product itself.

When in doubt…call the company and ask them about their processing plant, or don’t buy it.  See you at the next GIG meeting!