My girlfriend Merry from …and Baby Makes Five… sent me a request last night to attempt a conversion of my favorite cupcake recipe. It’s a cayenne-pepper-spiced chocolate cake smoothed over with cinnamon buttercream. Though I am the polar opposite of vegan, I fell in love with this Mexican Chocolate Cupcake recipe from Strawberry Pepper, whose blog caters to the no-animal-products crowd. I just use regular butter and milk in the frosting and call it good. They’re seriously out of this world, and I routinely look for excuses to bake them! Thanks, Merry!
Why did she ask me to do this? Well, Merry has developed a sensitivity to gluten, and she can no longer eat the cupcakes from the above recipe. Being, as I am, on a budget, Merry asked politely that I only use rice flour in my recipe. This was perfectly acceptable to me as I had some rice flour laying around waiting for a purpose. I found a recipe for Rice Flour Cupcakes on Baketivities, a now woefully defunct blog. I instantly decided that it was the recipe that I needed for this project. I was drawn to it for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, there are lots of things used in GF cooking that I don’t have laying around the house. I have several friends with Celiac Disease, and I always want to cook dessert for them when I see them. However, xanthan gum, potato starch, and other powders that are often found in GF recipes are tremendously expensive — especially for someone who doesn’t actually need to eat them. This recipe had none of that stuff in it. . . just rice flour and eggs: I’ve got those. I figured that I could somehow mash the two recipes into one.
I pretty much nailed it on the first go!
Because I attempted to make 9 cupcakes per the GF recipe, I tried to scale back the spices from the spicy chocolate recipe. However, I ended up with 12 cupcakes instead of 9, and the spices were stretched pretty thin. It worked pretty well for the cinnamon and cayenne, but it wasn’t enough for the chocolate. So the cupcakes in my picture are a little …anemic, but I adjusted the spices upward to compensate for the extra batter volume. If you follow the recipe below, you’ll have darker, chocolatier cupcakes than I have in the pictures (which are still pretty damn good).
Let’s take a second for some real talk here before we get into the recipe, though. These cupcakes have no gluten in them. They are NOT going to have the same exact texture and mouth feel that a wheat-flour cupcake would, so if you’re expecting some kind of voodoo kitchen magic out of me that makes rice flour no longer grainy, I’m afraid I am probably going to disappoint you. I haven’t tried this recipe with tapioca four, sorghum flour, potato flour, buckwheat flour, bean flour, quinoa flour or gluten-free flour mix, but if you’d like to try it with one of those [or even another that I’ve missed] and leave a comment about your results, I’m sure that others in the GF community would appreciate your efforts.
I have submitted the recipe on Allrecipes.com, which is like my second home. With any luck, it will be published and available on their website soon. In the meantime, though, I’ll share it here. I hope you enjoy them, Merry!
Rice Flour (Gluten-Free) Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes
(yield: 12 cupcakes)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rice flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
2. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter and sugar together at high speed until fluffy.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, and then vanilla, mixing each addition until well incorporated.
4. Add flour, cocoa, and spices. Mix on low speed until flour is moistened and on medium speed until there are no lumps.
5. Reduce mixer speed to low, and stir in milk until batter is well mixed.
6. Fill cupcake liners with 3 tablespoons of batter. (I do two scoops with my 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop.)
7. Bake 18 – 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
8. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
I suggest that you use the cinnamon buttercream frosting recipe: Whether you use vegan products or dairylicious ones, it is such a perfect match to the cakes. I imagine that plain chocolate, spicy chocolate, or vanilla would do in a pinch, but I don’t really like being pinched, do you? Take the time to indulge in these cupcakes as they were meant to be!!!
For your convenience, not because I think you can’t do simple math, I am posting the recipe scaled to half since Strawberry Pepper’s frosting was intended for twice as many cupcakes as mine yields. Also, this is unveganized and edited for technique. Feel free to switch it back to animal-free if that’s your fancy.
Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
(yield: ~ 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
1. Cream butter and shortening together on medium speed until combined and fluffy.
2. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar and cinnamon, and mix until sugar is moistened.
3. Add vanilla and milk on low speed until they are incorporated.
4. Whip frosting on high speed until it has reached the desired consistency.
Pro tip: If you’re a cotton-headed ninny muggins like myself and forget to buy confectioner’s sugar, pop one cup of white sugar in your blender with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and beat it into submission. It makes the perfect amount for this recipe.
Also, when I make this recipe, I usually stir in the cayenne pepper after portioning some non-spicy cupcakes or mini-cupcakes for any children who might want to indulge. Archoo and Kaeloo don’t actually seem to mind them when they’re spicy, but I can’t imagine that every child is as tolerant as mine.