Tuesday, February 7, 2012
A couple weeks ago I picked up Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free a recipe book by baker and proprietor, Karen Morgan. You have heard me say it here before that I am not a baker and to finally start down the baking path, gluten-free I might add, is a little scary. However, I am determined to become a successful gluten-free baker! I am happy to report that these chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes were a great and tasty introduction into the scary world of gluten-free baking (okay, okay so it isn't so scary)!
All baking is about proportions and correct measurements, but gluten-free baking is especially so! Too much of a certain type of flour and it will be dry, too much of another or binding agent and it's like glue. So I was a little concerned when I had to stray from the original recipe because Morgan's called for "glutinous flour," of which I did not have. And why is a gluten-free recipe calling for "glutinous flour" for anyway? Well, come to find out glutinous flour is a sticky rice flour made up of several different rices. It is the same thing used to make mochi and is quite sticky when wet, making for a unique and flavorless binding agent. I do not have such a thing and was not intending to trek to the Asian food market to grab some.
Instead, I decided to use something that works in a very similar way. I do want to preface this by saying that glutinous flour is one of those things that is not something you can easily substitute and this may not work with other recipes. After much research I decided to use Xanthan Gum, which also quite sticky when wet and is a natural thickener and binding agent. It is pretty potent stuff and a little bit goes along way: 1/2 teaspoon for every cup of flour used.
Luckily, my gambling turned out well and these cupcakes were a huge success, so much so that after one cupcake Will insisted that I take them to work for fear that we might eat them all. The chocolate cake was moist with out being gooey and the frosting is what I like to call peanut butter crack. Be warned there is ALOT of sugar in the frosting. I recommend eating these bad boys with a ice cold glass of milk!
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cupcakes yields 12
Adapted from Blackbird Gluten Free Bakery Recipe Book
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temp
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cup pan with paper liners.
In a standing mixer, or a bowl with a hand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, combine all dry ingredients and mix on low speed to blend. Add the butter and beat until blended. Increase the speed to medium and add the egg, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat on high until smooth. Using an ice-cream scoop, fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full with batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until springy to the touch.
Remove from oven and gently un-mold onto a wire cooling rack. Turn right side up and allow to cool completely before frosting.
In a standing mixer, or hand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the light and brown sugars and salt until it forms a ball. Add the peanut butter and mix until smooth, while scraping down the sides of the bowl to get everything. Beat in the confectioner's sugar, cream and vanilla. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Do not overwhip the icing as it will cause the butter to melt. Frost cupcakes with offset spatula and top with whatever you like (I used cocoa nibs).