Valentine’s Day Gluten-free Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe with no food coloring

February 14th, 2009 yum Posted in Baked Goods, Cranberries, Dessert, Holiday, Southern, Valentine Day 11 Comments »

Growing up gluten-free in the Pacific Northwest, I’d never had a red velvet cake or cupcake in my life. This chocolate cake, often appearing in cupcake form, is often made with buttermilk and beets or red food coloring. It is most popular in the Southern United States, which may explain why I didn’t encountered it much. I’d seen recipes around online and was intrigued, but finally seeing Pinch my Salt’s beautiful red velvet cupcake decided it. I had to make a recipe for this Valentine’s Day. First I wanted to find out more about the history of the red velvet cake, and my friend Wikipedia helped me with this.

James Beard’s 1972 reference American Cookery describes three kinds of red velvet cake varying in the amounts of shortening and butter used. All of them use red food coloring for the color, but it is mentioned that the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to turn the cocoa a reddish brown color. Furthermore, before more alkaline “Dutch Processed” cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name “Red Velvet” as well as “Devil’s Food” and a long list of similar names for chocolate cakes.

Dye And Other Color Sources
The use of red dye to make “Red Velvet” cake was probably started after the introduction of the darker cocoa in order to reproduce the earlier color. It is also notable that while foods were rationed during World War II, some bakers used boiled beets to enhance the color of their cakes. Boiled grated beets or beet baby food are still found in some red velvet cake recipes. Red velvet cakes seemed to find a home in the U.S. South and reached peak popularity in the 1950s – just before a controversy arose about health effects of common food colorings.
(Source: Wikipedia)

To make my version of red velvet cupcakes, I was determined to avoid using expensive red food coloring when I could use natural ingredients. The traditional dye besides red food coloring was beets, but I’d heard a lot of criticism that beets imparted a heavy, earthy flavor to the dessert. So, I went to Whole Foods with an open mind, looking for other bright red ingredients that could be used instead of beets. I had recently received a sample of Pom Wonderful Pomegranate Juice, which inspired me to think of red juices like pomegranate. (I probably would have used this juice, but there was a mix-up and it ended up sitting in our apartment complex office for two weeks when it needed refrigeration- oops.) Whole Foods didn’t have that specific brand of pomegranate, so I ended up bringing home an acai juice instead. However, I was also inspired by a can of cranberry jelly that seemed ideal for decreasing the oil in the recipe as well as bringing color and additional flavor. Maybe it was unconventional, but I had read complaints that Red Velvet Cupcakes often didn’t have much flavor and since I didn’t want a strong chocolate flavor, fruit-infused vanilla sounded really good to me.

I couldn’t have been happier with the results. The cupcakes might have turned out more of a light brown than a red, but the flavor was wonderful, with crystallized sugar sparkling on the top and a light, fluffy texture. I had feared the batter might be too thin, but it rose to a perfect height and texture in the oven. To be honest, it didn’t even need frosting, but to make it more festive we whipped up a batch of the DH’s special cream cheese frosting. DH’s response? He asked me why I don’t bake more often… and ate about four of them in a row, before I could even get them frosted.

Looking for other gluten-free takes on the red velvet cupcake? Try these recipes!
Going Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe with Chocolate Pudding
Ginger lemon Girl’s Lowfat Whole-Grain Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe
Naomi of Better Batter’s Starbucks-Style Ganache-filled Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe

I hope you have a delicious and gluten-free Valentine’s Day! What are you enjoying for Valentine’s Day dinner and Dessert? Please share in the comments!
Enjoy more of my Valentine’s Day Recipes!
Lemon Vanilla Heart Tuiles with Vanilla Custard
Homemade Easy GF Macademia or Pistachio nut Fudge
No refined sugar Babycake Brownie Recipe

Gluten-Free No food coloring Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups your favorite gluten-free flour blend (I used Bette Hagman’s gourmet blend*)
1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar **
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cocoa powder
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup cranberry jelly (not the whole berry kind)
1 1/4 cup buttermilk [dairy-free: try soy milk with 1 tbsp. lemon juice]
2 large eggs, at room temperature [egg-free: try 2 Ener-g Foods Egg Replacer "eggs"]
2 or 3 tbsp. acai juice, cranberry juice, or pomegranate juice (i used acai)
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 package lowfat cream cheese (equiv. tofutti for dairy-free)
2 tbsp. butter, room temperature (earth balance margarine for dairy-free)
1 tsp. vanilla
powdered sugar to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Prepare two muffin tin either by greasing or using muffin tin liners.

Sift together your flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

Whisk together or use your mixer to combine the cranberry jelly, canola oil, eggs, juice, vinegar and vanilla. You may want to start with just the cranberry jelly and oil or eggs. Mix until all wet ingredients are combined and smooth. Fold in the sifted dry ingredients.

Next, pour smooth batter into your muffin tin or liner until each cup is 2/3 full. (Batter may seem liquid, but it will rise beautifully. If you’re worried you can add a little more flour blend, especially if you used 3 tbsp. of the juice.)

Bake for 25 minutes or so, turning the pans around at around the 12 minute mark.

Combine cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in your mixer and beat until you have a creamy sauce. Add powdered sugar to taste- we probably add about 1/2 cup, but the key is to mix and taste as you go.

Let cupcakes cook and then frost.

Sprinkle with colored sprinkles if desired. Whole Foods has a natural fruit colored sprinkle.

*Bette Hagman’s Gourmet Blend, available through Ener-g Foods or mixed in bulk: 3 cups white rice flour 1 cup potato starch 1/2 cup tapioca starch flour.

**To make vanilla sugar, simply store a vanilla bean with your sugar overnight.

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Gluten-Free Candy: Almond Praline Recipe

December 27th, 2008 yum Posted in Almonds, American Homestyle Cooking, Candy, Dairy Free, Easy, Homemade gifts, Southern 3 Comments »

Although the holiday gift-giving season is drawing to a close, one of the most enjoyable and personal gifts you can make for friends and family is delicious and easy-to-make homemade gluten-free candy. In candy recipes like this one, no one will ever miss the gluten because they are naturally gluten-free. I had never really had praline before, but when I found myself in need of some for another recipe, I scoured the web looking for a simple recipe. I considered making macadamia praline, but in the end decided to go with the Southern classic original- an almond praline. Although some caramelized sugar recipes are too sweet for me, this crunchy, sheer sugar candy with its hint of salt providing the perfect compliment appealed to me more than I would have thought possible. It would be perfect for a gift or for serving at a simple movie-watching-party at home. If you’re making it for guests, though, you probably want to double or triple the recipe- this stuff is addicting!

Looking for more easy recipes perfect for hostess gifts?
Try My Easy Homemade Fudge Recipe

Gluten Free Almond Praline Recipe
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup sliced blanched almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and coat with cooking spray.

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil on medium-high heat. Shake pan to distribute sugar evenly. Let it boil at least seven minutes or until the sugar turns a light amber color. Throw in the almonds and salt and continuously mix with a wooden spoon until sugar turns dark amber. Pour carefully onto the sprayed wax paper on the cookie sheet so it forms an even layer. Let cool.

You can break the praline sheet into whatever size you like for snacking, or use a food processor to break up into smaller pieces for recipes.

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