Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cupcakes!

About once a month I am graced with the presence of my gluten-free goddess Sarah and each of these visits always includes a little bit of wheat-free wonderful. This trip was nothing different and before she even arrived we had decided that the whole day would be spent in my kitchen dawning aprons and oven mitts. As we already knew, the task would have to include some creativity as "gluten-free" is never an easy task to perfect on those pallets that crave the flour packed sweets that are usually generated from my kitchen (that would be our toughest critic and dessert lover, my fiance Haydn). We knew if we could get him to love our baked goods sans gluten, then we had perfected a job well done.

Off we went, armed with tapioca flour and xanthum gum, to my mixing bowl where we decided to go wild and create our own version of a cookies and cream cupcake. Using the basic gluten-free chocolate cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, we got the idea to throw in some crushed GF chocolate sandwich cookies that we found at Whole Foods into the batter for that extra sweet cocoa crunch. These baked up perfectly, but they were definitely missing the "cream" element that would seal the deal and kick up all the sweet flavor the batter had lost from lacking the gluten that a normal cupcake would have offered.

Thinking fast we knew we needed to work on the cream topping to pass our taste test. Using the same idea we had for the base, we got to crushing more cookies while mixing them into my basic buttercream frosting recipe and viola, we had the tastiest cookies and cream topping! It was only seconds before the icing was perfectly placed with an offset spatula and heading right into our hungry little tummies. Of course my gluten-free goddess loved them as we had just re-created a favorite that had been missing ever since her diagnosis with Celiac...but what about our toughest critic...did he think they were just as good as the original? Did they pass the test?

As they say, silence is golden...

Cookies & Buttercream Frosting Recipe
1 cup butter (softened to room temp)
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract 1/8 tsp salt
1 cup crushed chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos or a gluten free variety) 

1. In a bowl combine softened butter and salt. Beat until blended, light and fluffy using the whisk attachment on your mixer
2. Gradually add sugar until incorporated (stopping occasionally to scrap the sides of the bowl) - you may need a little more or a little less depending on you desired frosting thickness
3. Add milk, vanilla and beat for an additional 3-5 minutes or until smooth and creamy (don't over mix and add too much air...frosting should be thick and creamy)
4. Using a spatula mix in crushed cookies
5. Spread on cooled cupcakes and top with whole cookies for decoration!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Who doesn't love to start their morning off with cake? I still applaud the woman (or man!) who decided to put the word 'coffee' in front of 'cake' so that everyone could feel good about eating dessert for, well, breakfast.

Speaking of wonderful sister was throwing me an engagement brunch the other weekend and knowing my sister (who's KitchenAid mixer is for decoration purposes only and has no measuring cups...yes I know, I don't know how either), I knew I was on call for a delicious treat that was both sweet and rich as it was breakfast. Since the little things in life excite me, I set running with joy to the dessert/breakfast section of my cookbook. A few swift page turns later I landed on what I knew would not only fill our bellies, but would give us an excuse to eat dessert at 10 a.m - Sour Cream Coffee Cake.

Now, this coffee cake is not for the faint of heart. It is rich, dense and oh so filled with sugared topping that swirls magically throughout the center. This cake...I mean breakfast...will keep you going all day, if not make you go back for seconds at lunch time. Dig in with a fork, spoon or just pick it up and gobble it down. Either way you slice it, this coffee cake is down right delish!

1 cup butter
1 3 /4 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream (I use reduced fat, but whole works fine too...just not non-fat!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons melter butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan
2. In a medium bowl prepare the filling and set aside: mix 2/3 cups flour, brown sugar, melted butter and cinnamon
3. In a small bowl combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt - set aside
4. In another separate large bowl (or mixer), cream together butter and white sugar until light and fluffy (apx. 1-2 minutes)
5. Add in eggs, one at a time
6. Mix in sour cream and vanilla
7. Slowly add flour mixture until just combined
8. Pour half the batter into prepared pan
9. Sprinkle half of the topping mixture onto the cake batter
10. Spread the remaining batter over the filling and sprinkle with the rest of the topping mixture
11. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean (tip: tent the cake with foil for the last 20 minutes, it will keep the sugar topping from over browning)
**Make it your own: the center can be filled with whatever you crave...blueberries, apples, nuts, raisins, anything!