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.

History
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
Ingredients
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

Frosting:
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

Directions
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.

Frosting:
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.

Notes
*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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Alternative Daring Baker Challenges: Gluten-Free Lemon Vanilla Tuiles with Vanilla Custard Recipe

January 29th, 2009 yum Posted in Cookies, Dairy, Daring Baker, Dessert, Valentine Day, Vanilla, custard 16 Comments »

This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

After last month’s exhausting and extraordinarily rich yule log recipe, I was really relieved that this month’s recipe was much simpler, and also lower in calorie. Our instructions were as follows:
- use one of the batters given to make a tuile
- shape it either prior (using a stencil) or right after baking and
- pair it with something light; fruit, sorbet, a mousse, or maybe even a fruit soup, think glazes or dips…..
-And finally, bend it, shape it, anyway you want it!

I loved the butterfly example that we were given to inspire us, and perhaps next time I’d make butterflies, but since Valentine’s Day is coming, I thought it would be fun to make heart shaped cookies. After all the chocolate last month, the idea of making them with delicate lemon and vanilla flavoring really appealed to me. And, when I started thinking of light sauces or creamy desserts, somehow vanilla custard called my name. Luckily I had a lot of beautiful whole vanilla beans thanks to a Costco find. The wonderful thing about working with fresh vanilla is that it makes the whole house, and your skin smell absolutely delicious. The cookies were quite easy to convert to gluten-free simply by subbing a gluten-free flour, and I didn’t even really feel the need to add xanthan gum. The only trouble I ran into is that after taking the whole (half batch) out of the oven, I was only able to shape about half of them as the rest cooled and hardened. Next time I’d probably cut the parchment paper so I could take half out and leave the rest in to stay warm. The stencil part was pretty easy and fun too- I caniballized half of a (huge) silicon baking sheet that I had to make my hearts. I’d always hated the baking sheet and found it way too big to work with. Now I still have a smaller baking sheet, if I want to use it, but I also have a sheet of cute heart stencils as well. Yay! And it didn’t cost a dime. For my shaping tools, I folded cardboard in half to make triangle shaped cooling racks. It worked fine, at least while the tuiles were still warm. I used some strawberry jam as a red fruit element for topping the custard- it wasn’t as smooth as I might have liked, but it was fun to play with.

The DH proclaimed the cookies a huge success. They were definitely easy enough to make again. I have lots of ideas for the future as far as flavoring goes, too. There is a scrumptious sounding savory option I’d love to try.. but for sweets, I think I’d enjoy trying to make lavendar-vanilla tuiles. Honey, almond, or anise flavorings would be lovely as well.

Unlike some Daring Baker Challenges, this is really one that is very doable and fun, and yields impressive results. I’d love to try making cone shaped tuiles, basket shapes, or even fortune cookie tuiles like some of my Daring Baker peers. I hope you’ll take the time and look at some of our other Daring Bakers’ creations- there are so many interesting, creative approaches to the challenge!

Check out my other completed Daring Baker Challenges:
GF Yule Log
GF Vegan Pizza
GF Eclairs
GF Danish
GF DF Cheesecake Pops
GF Vegan Party Cake

Vanilla Custard Recipe
Ingredients
2 cups low-fat (1%) milk
1 3-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 large egg

Directions
Put milk in a heavy saucepan and add the seeds from your vanilla bean and then the whole bean. Heat but do not let come to a boil. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a bowl and whisk together until smooth. Whisk egg in and then begin adding hot milk, whisking it in slowly. When it is entirely added into the pan, pour it back into the pan and bring to a boil on the stove and let thicken. Chill and enjoy.
Gluten-Free Lemon Vanilla Tuile Recipe
Ingredients

Recipe:
Yields: 20 small hearts/6 large (hearts are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

65 grams / 1/4 cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioners sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted Gluten-free flour mix such as Bette Hagman’s Gourmet Blend*
1 tsp. lemon flavoring
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180C / 350F

*Bette Hagmans Gourmet Blend, mixed in bulk:
3 cups white rice flour
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch flour

Directions
Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Add the lemon flavoring. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the heart. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes.

Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Havent tried that). Or: place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.

If you dont want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones.

Notes
This was a recipe taken from a book called The Chocolate Book, written by female Dutch Master chef Anglique Schmeinck.

To make my heart stencils, I traced a heart shape onto half of a silicon baking sheet (that I didn’t like) and cut them out.

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