I've always loved eating cakes and sweet things. I don't eat a lot of them but I need my regular fix. The thing about baking is that when you make things yourself, you get to see what actually goes into them. I have my favourite bakeries across London and then when I bought their recipe books, I realised that there's an awful lot of sugar and chocolate and other things that you probably should eat in moderation in one tiny slice. I remember once using a kilo of sugar in one 8 inch celebration cake. It definitely makes you think!
I was flicking through Bloglovin' the other day and stumbled across a few recipes that were really exciting. They were really exciting because there's a little boy in my son's class who's both gluten and dairy intolerant. I took in a batch of cupcakes for Hallowe'en (completely over-the-top full of dairy and gluten) and I still remember the disappointment on his face when he asked me if they were dairy free. And then there's another mum who's highly allergic to eggs (can you imagine a life without eggs?) So I've been wanting to find a cake that tastes and looks as good as normal cupcakes that will pass my test of yumminess and that they can enjoy too. And I found a few recipes to try.
This one is a hybrid of a couple of recipes. The chocolate cake is very simple to make and I've deliberately used ingredients that are easy to find in the supermarket but any items like cocoa nibs (if you want to use them) can be picked up in a health food shop.
Now on to the coconut cream frosting. Hmmm...this was a little trickier! Coconut cream frosting has been around for years and promises fluffy delight but this is the first time I've made it. Any recipes ask you to chill the cans of coconut milk in the fridge for at least 5 hours, but preferably overnight. This is because you only want the solid part (the cream) and you then drain the water away before using. What they don't tell you is that this process of refrigerating doesn't always work! So I went through 4 cans of failure; then I tried freezing it; adding pure coconut cream; and whipping it for 20 mins in the hope that it would magically set. It didn't. I then reverted to google looking for any tips for success. I read a lot of blogs and conversations and recommendations. This is the sum of my findings: ideally use cans that only contain coconut and water; avoid guar gum; brands change their recipes all the time so you may find one that works and then the next time it doesn't; it's often down to the contents of an individual can itself; and then I finally found a recommendation from someone to use Waitrose Full Fat Coconut Milk. Now this does contain guar gum and there's also no guarantee that it will work every time, but it was great to have some sort of recommendation - and it actually worked for me!
Coconut cream frosting is very different from the buttercream that I'd normally use. It's much lighter in texture and fluffier, but it does have a very distinct taste of coconut (obviously!) although you can flavour it with vanilla or honey. It won't replace regular buttercream for me as it doesn't hold its shape for celebration cakes and cupcakes, but it's very refreshing and much lighter - and has the added benefit of being much healthier!
- 250G RICE FLOUR
- 1 TSP XANTHUM GUM
- 1½ TSP BAKING SODA
- 1 TSP SALT
- 270G SUGAR
- 60G COCOA POWDER
- 320G ALMOND MILK AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
- 150G MELTED COCONUT OIL AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
- 2½ TBSP APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
- 2½ TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 2 TINS FULL FAT COCONUT MILK
- 2TBSP ICING SUGAR
- COCOA NIBS TO DECORATE
- At least 5 hours before baking or preferably overnight, put the cans of coconut milk in the fridge.
- Heat the oven to 175 degrees and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake papers. Melt the coconut oil and put to one side to cool down. Ensure that the almond milk is out of the fridge and at room temperature.
- In one bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: the rice flour, xanthum gum, baking soda, salt, sugar and cocoa powder and mix well. Then in another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: the almond milk, coconut oil, vinegar and vanilla. If you put the milk and coconut in first and the milk is not at room temperature, the coconut oil will start to solidify. This can be rescued by warming gently in the microwave with short 15 second bursts until the coconut oil re-melts.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix by hand with a wooden spoon.
- Fill each of the 12 cupcake papers with around 1/3 cup of batter and then bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove the cupcakes from the tin and leave to cool. It's important that they're completely cool before you frost them otherwise the frosting will start to melt.
- Turn your chilled coconut cans upside down, open and pour out the liquid. Scoop out the remaining cream and whisk until the frosting is light and fluffy. This should take around 3 minutes. Then add any favouring that you choose: I added 2 tbsp icing sugar but you could use vanilla, honey or something of your own choosing. Mix through and then your frosting is ready to use. Refrigerate if you don't use immediately.
- Frost the cupcakes and add some garnish. I used cocoa nibs. Then enjoy!