Review of Elana Amsterdam’s Gluten-free Cupcake Cookbook

First, let me just say that I think I should rename the House of Yum the House of Cupcakes after the last few weeks. I went from having cupcakes once or twice a year to having them three times in half as many weeks. And you know what? I like cupcakes! I do! I never had heart palpitations over cake, except for our wedding cake -swoon- but something about a cupcake really appeals to me. Maybe it is the serving size- so cute, so demure, and yet so satisfying. Maybe it is the fact that you can dress it up in a little holder with hearts or silver or- ooh- even silver hearts. But maybe, just maybe it is the frosting. The fact that you can cover the entire top with an absurdly huge frosting dome and it is yours! All yours! Try doing that with a cake. Not only will the physics cause you some serious issues, but cutting it will be a big, gooey mess. Give me a cupcake any day. This is why when I heard that Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry was coming out with a new gluten-free cupcake cookbook I was beside myself with excitement. And then I got my very own review copy- plus one for a giveaway. Wheeee! Sometimes being a food blogger has its perks. In this cookbook, Elana adds a new gluten-free, low carb flour to her repertoire- coconut flour. I have experimented a little with coconut flour myself, and it can be a tricky flour to love. It eats eggs like nobody’s business and has this personality that just doesn’t work well with savory. Elana has somehow whipped coconut flour into shape and made it work for her in this cookbook. Really impressive. Now, if you have a sensitivity to coconut flour and are curious- 11 of the main cupcake recipes do not contain coconut flour. About half of those recipes are savory (yum yum, such a nice surprise), and then most of the frostings are coconut free. Still- probably not an ideal for the coconut-allergic reader. Almond flour is also featured in many (but not all) of the recipes, for your information. Time to re-order from Honeyville! And Elana still uses agave nectar in most of her recipes, although she has yacon syrup in a few as an alternative sweetener (Pecan Pie Cupcakes and Gingerbread Molasses Cupcakes). This woman keeps me busy ordering from Amazon. But I know what you really want to know- how were the cupcakes?
Elana’s Lime Cupcakes
The hardest thing about this book is actually only picking one recipe to try. They all sound so good. Read the titles when you aren’t hungry sometime- vanilla fig, apple spice, cinnamon crumb, german chocolate. You will be hungry by the time you’re finished flipping through this little book. I finally gave up on picking one- I handed the book to the DH and said “You pick it, I’ll make it.” So he picked Elana’s lime cupcakes, which was a pleasant surprise. Of all the recipes I tried, this one was my favorite. It was deceptively simple but flavorful and fresh with the tanginess of lime and only the barest whisper of coconut. We didn’t actually try her suggested frosting accompaniment- the DH whipped up a zesty lime cream cheese frosting that made us both very happy. This recipe has great texture, subtle but wonderful flavor, and I will definitely be making it again. Oh, one quirk that you might want to know- the recipes don’t exactly conform to a 12 muffin pan. Recipes tend to make between 8-12 cupcakes. If baking for a large family, you might want to double the recipe. Oh, darn, more cupcakes! I’m sure no one will object.
Strawberry Cupcakes
I made Elana’s strawberry cupcakes for a gluten-free South Bay Area potluck, and frosted them with a coconut cream whipped frosting garnished with freshly sliced strawberries. I have to admit I went a little rogue- what is it with me improvising my own frostings? I really should try one of her frosting recipes, too… But anyway, these cupcakes were a big hit, especially when people found out they were both nut and dairy-free. My good friend JM declared them “wicked good” and liked the delicate, complex flavors. The DH and I both liked them, although I think I would have tried Cream cheese frosting next time. What can I say, we are addicted to the stuff. Recipe for Strawberry Cupcakes found on Elana’s blog.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Elana’s recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes had me at “Chocolate Peanut Butter” and I couldn’t resist taking them to our local potluck. The DH thoroughly enjoyed them and said I could make them “any time” and that if he hadn’t known they were gluten-free, he wouldn’t have thought they were anything but a regular cupcake. High praise indeed! My chocoholic friend JM surprised herself (and me too) by saying she liked the strawberry cupcakes best. Fine with me. She can have the strawberry cupcake leftovers if I get to keep every single lime cupcake to my greedy self…and I think the DH would be happy to hog more than his fair share of the chocolate! Just goes to show that there is a recipe for everyone in this book.

I was very happy to get permission to share the lime cupcakes with you here. I hope you enjoy them, and enjoy Elana’s cookbooks as much as I do. I’ve been baking gluten-free my entire life, and I’m used to shuffling canisters of gluten-free flours out of the pantry, but baking from her books is like taking a vacation from being gluten-free. Just one (or at most two) flours and basic, whole ingredients, and you have a great tasting, quality recipe. If I hadn’t made her recipes myself, I’m not sure I’d believe it.

You’ll need these ingredients… especially if you win the extra copy of Elana’s book I’ll be giving away on Facebook at the Book of Yum Page!

Want more?
Shirley of Gluten-free Easily made her Marble Cupcakes
Kim of Cook it Allergy-free made many of Elana’s sweet cupcakes, a savory cupcake and also the lime cupcake!
Heidi of Adventures of a Gluten-free Mom also tried Elana’s lime cupcakes! (Great minds think alike, I guess!)

*All photographs from the House of Yum except of course for the cookbook cover.

Lime Cupcakes
Makes 10
Sweetness: Medium

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons firmly packed lime zest, plus more to decorate (about 3 limes)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 10 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine the coconut flour, almond flour, salt, and baking soda.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, grapeseed oil, agave nectar, and 2
tablespoons lime zest. Blend the wet ingredients into the coconut flour mixture
with a handheld mixer until thoroughly combined.

Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into each prepared muffin cup.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 1 hour, then frost, sprinkle with the remaining lime zest, and serve.

Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free Cupcakes: 50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour. Copyright 2011 by Elana Amsterdam, Celestial Arts, an imprint of Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.
Cream Cheese Lime Frosting
1 package lowfat cream cheese (for dairy free, you can try Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese)
1/2 to 1 cup powdered sugar (*start with 1/4 cup and keep adding to taste)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
one half of a small lime, juiced (or less, to taste)
1/2 tsp lime zest
Put your cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and microwave briefly until soft enough to stir. Add vanilla and begin adding powdered sugar to taste, whipping together with a standing or hand-held mixer. Add a dash of lime juice and your lime zest to the mixer and combine thoroughly. Taste and add more if needed. It will be too soft and runny for frosting at this point, so put in a freezer safe ziploc bag and chill in refrigerator until it is thick enough to frost with (at least 30 minutes).

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16 Responses to “Review of Elana Amsterdam’s Gluten-free Cupcake Cookbook”

  1. Isn’t it just the most wonderful cookbook! I love Elana!!

  2. [...] Gluten-Free Cupcakes cookbook, check out Kim’s (Cook It Allergy Free) giveaway here and Sea’s (Book of Yum) giveaway info here. Good luck! Hope to see many of you here at the Gluten-Free and Allergen-Free Expo this [...]

  3. Love her first book. Can’t wait for this new one.

  4. [...] Sea of Book of Yum [...]

  5. From the ones you reviewed, I think the peanut butter chocolate would be my favourite. Yum!

  6. I read about Elana’s gluten-free cookbook on another website, and have heard nothing but great things. Will be ordering ASAP.

    – Chelsey

  7. The lime cupcakes sound great. I loved Elana’s first book and cant wait to get a copy of the new one.

  8. Christine Says:

    I tried Elana’s strawberry cupcakes last night and they were good. Would be really curious to try the white chocolate ones she mentions on her blog.

  9. [...] Gluten-Free Cupcakes by Elana Amsterdam reviewed by Yum at Book of Yum. [...]

  10. I would love to have this book! I just ordered her first one and am in love (I know I am a little late on the ball!) :P

  11. I love Elana’s recipes, this cookbook looks so fun!

  12. Oh my goodness Sea. Your pictures look amazing. You have gone above and beyond in doing this cookbook justice! Can I come over to your place for dessert?

  13. Those lime cupcakes sound and look delish! If that recipe is any indication of the rest of the recipes it must be a great book :)

  14. These look amazing! I don’t think I could pick a fav but chocolate peanut butter would certainly be high on the list!

  15. laurabosak Says:

    Wow. I can’t wait to try the lime cupcakes!

  16. Wow these lime cupcakes look like I could win my hubby over to GF with them alone:)
    Thanks for the great review!

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