By Claire Baker, NFCA Director of Communications and New Media
I love any excuse to make cupcakes. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of being a kid. Maybe it’s because I know exactly how many people I can share a treat with. Maybe because it’s sort of an enforced portion control — there’s no way to get a bigger piece of cake that way! Maybe it’s because it really lights up my 10-year-old son Scott, who comes in to help mix, pour and clean-up (otherwise known as licking the bowl) when he sees me getting the baking stuff out. This weekend, Scott and I made the gluten-free, dairy-free vanilla cupcakes from the Thai Kitchen recipe the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) team shared on CeliacCentral.org.
I have celiac disease and I have a number of friends who can’t or don’t eat dairy products, so I’m always on the lookout for interesting options to keep us all happy. I’m also the only gluten-free member of my 4-person household, and if I’m going to make 2 dozen cupcakes, they better appeal to the whole crew or else I’ll have to shop for bigger pants.
The cupcakes mixed up easily and made exactly 24 normal-sized cupcakes just as the recipe said it would (when does that happen?). They stayed pretty light in color, so it was a good thing that I followed the suggested baking time and tested with a toothpick, or I probably would have over-baked them.
On this recipe, I used my favorite baking hack — silicone cupcake cups instead of cupcake papers. I have two dozen silicone cups and they are only for our gluten-free baking. I’ve found that too much cupcake or muffin gets left behind in paper cupcake cups. With the silicone cups, the food pops out easily. I think these cupcakes would have done fine in paper liners though — they were moist and left little residue on the silicone, a good sign that they would have not stuck to the paper. (If you are taking cupcakes to an event and want to leave the cupcakes in their liner, my second favorite hack is to use foil ones.)
I cut the frosting recipe in half. I have to admit, I usually cheat here too and don’t make my own frosting, so I was a little apprehensive about using a whole box of confectioners sugar and a cup of non-dairy spread. I suppose I don’t think too hard about what goes into frosting from a can! At any rate, I decided that I could frost just half the batch and leave the others naked as a nod to calorie reduction. It turned out that half as much frosting was plenty. It was thinner than store-bought frosting, so I actually took the cupcakes and dipped them in the frosting bowl to give them a little frosting hat, sort of like the picture from the original Thai Kitchen recipe. I suppose to make it thicker I would need to use less liquid, but these were actually fine.
The family and I ate some right away, and they got the thumbs up from both my beloved gluten-eaters and from me. The Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk helped keep them rich, yet light in the absence of dairy. And no, they didn’t taste like coconut, but they were distinctive in a good way. We came up with some clever innovations to try for next time — maybe add coconut shavings to the frosting to bring out the coconut flavor; reduce the oil and sugar and mix in a mashed banana and maybe some nuts for banana nut muffins; add chocolate chips or do chocolate frosting… If you are a baker too, you know how that goes.
I refrigerated some and froze some so I could take them to the NFCA office to share for later in the week. They were good cold too. (So much for portion control!). I think I actually liked the frosting better chilled. They thawed just fine — no one would be able to know you’d done them ahead of time. You could also make a batch, freeze them, then throw them as needed into your kid’s lunchbox. They’d be thawed by lunch. You’d have treats for days.
Give ‘em a try! You’ll want to have a gluten-free, dairy-free Thai Kitchen coconut milk cupcake recipe in your baking arsenal too. You can also check out Thai Kitchen’s website for more great ways to incorporate coconut milk into your recipes.
Have you already tried out Thai Kitchen coconut milk? Tell us how you use it on our Facebook page.