Monday, October 11, 2010

Webby Good Cupcakes


A few Sundays ago, I dropped Rosie off at a birthday party, and about two minutes in, her cupcake (which I brought special for her) fell in the dirt. I wanted to cry. That might be the reaction you would expect from the child. But for this mom, there was so much tied up in that little cupcake. I had stayed up late the night before to bake and decorate her "special" cupcakes so that she would feel "normal" at the party. There was all the daily tension and challenges of dealing with food sensitivities in that stupid cupcake! It represented more than just a few bites of sweetness. For a moment she looked at me and I looked at her, frozen, as I decided my next step. Did I say, oh well you can have another one at home. Or, did I schlep back home and get her another little cake which I hoped would bridge the gap of "normalcy" for this child? Sometimes you can't give your kid what he needs, and the disappointments of life must be faced--even by a four year old. And sometimes Mom can go home and pull another cupcake out of the freezer. Which I did.

Sometimes your kids ask you for things which you cannot deliver. And sometimes you can. Sometimes the request are of the roll your eyes variety (on the parents part), and sometimes as a parent you stop and say "Yeah, that's actually reasonable." On the cover of the October/November issue of Living Without (a magazine dedicated to "Gluten-Free and Allergy-Free Living"), there was an appealing picture of blueberry muffins with spider-web frosting on the cover. The request from my gluten-free and food allergic children to make them was actually of the latter variety. I got the usual, "Please, can we have them, yes, when, when, tonight? NO, tomorrow? Please (accompanied by expectant smile)". However, given that we have a new "flower" in our garden (k'neina hara), I was rather busy to say the least. Just serving dinner was a huge effort, decorated cupcakes too?! I told the kids they would be a special treat for the then upcoming holiday of Sukkot. I decided Sukkot was an very outdoor oriented holiday, and spiders are part of there's the connection.I found it slightly odd the original recipe called for using blueberry muffins. I subbed out chocolate cupcakes from my new favorite cookbook Sophie Safe Cooking, which uses oat flour and no eggs, nuts or dairy products (see previous post for new found love of oat flour). So these recipes are great for my kids.

Using store bought frosting such as Duncan Hines Whipped Frosting (which is vegan as well as gluten-free), makes this recipe only look time consuming! If you can't find certified gluten-free oat flour, but have certified gluten-free oats, finely process them in a food processor to form a flour.

Spider Web Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

from Sophie-Safe Cooking by Emily Hendrix, p. 90

2 cups oat flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cold water

Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. Set aside. Pre-heat oven to 35oF degrees.
In one bowl, mix oat flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a second bowl, mix oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour cold water and oil mixture into dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour into lined muffin tins. Fill each muffin cup about 1/2 full.

Bake at 350F degrees for 20 minutes. A toothpick inserted into a cupcake will have a few crumbs clinging to it. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (non-dairy)
1/2 tablespoon non-hydrogenated non-dairy margarine or shortening (such as Earth Balance)
1 container non-dairy vanilla frosting (such as Duncan Hines Whipped Frosting)

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and margarine. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Stir until smooth. If chips are not melted, return to microwave for 15 second increments, stirring in between until melted. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a a round decorating tip (such as size 6 or 7), or a zip top plastic bag. If using a plastic bag, snip a small hole at one corner once filled.

Frost cooled cupcakes with vanilla frosting, creating a smooth, flat surface. Make several concentric circles with melted chocolate, about 1/4 inch apart on vanilla frosting. With the tip of a sharp knife or a toothpick, draw a line from outer edge of cupcake to center, then about 1/2 inch away, in the opposite direction. Repeat and you will have created a "spider web" design on top of the cupcake. For an added bit of whimsy, position a plastic spider on top.

Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

Sunday, October 10, 2010

An apple a day...or two, or three


Mares eat oats and does eat oats....and little Lillie does too! Finally. We received the go ahead for Lillie to integrate oats into her diet once again. That may not seem terribly exciting to most people, but I was practically dancing in the streets. I kind of went a little crazy with Bob's Gluten Free Certified Oats and Oat flour---I ordered a case. I only have 2 small bags left! I made oatmeal cookies, brownies, blondies and my favorite apple crumble!

I have a favorite streusel topping recipe that is really healthy. Although I had been using it for years, I had to cease and desist while Lillie was off oats for the past year. It comes from Susan G. Purdy's book Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too. While most streusel recipes consist of flour, sugar and cinnamon, Purdy's is mainly oats. I had to tweak Purdy's formula to remove small amounts of wheat germ and Grape-Nuts cereal called for in the recipe. But, it remains crunchy and delicious due to the oats. If you can eat nuts, add 1/2 cup chopped almonds or walnuts to up the crunch factor.

If you live in a region where apples are grown, now is the time for harvesting them. Many farms open part of their groves to the public for a fee. Apple picking is a wonderful fall activity for the family. I think it's great to teach the kids that food doesn't grow in the supermarket. As well, there is nothing like taking an ingredient from farm to table in the same day. The recipe below is very kid friendly in terms of making and eating!

This recipe can be made with many combinations of fruit; berries and plums work well too. But being apple picking season, you may have an excess on hand. I like to use Granny Smith apples in pies and crumbles, as their tartness contrasts nicely to the sugar in these dishes. But, you may use any firm, slightly tart apple for this recipe.

Favorite Apple Crumble

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced (1/4 inch thick slices)
2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch
1/3-1/2 cup packed dark or light brown sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

(adapted from Susan G. Purdy's Oat Streusel Topping, p. 429, Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too)

1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend (I used Jules' brand)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup dark or light brown sugar, packed
2 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup certified gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon apple or orange juice

Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Place apples in the pan. Sprinkle with remaining filling ingredients and toss together with a mixing spoon or your hands, until apples are well coated. Pat down the apples so they are evenly spread out across the baking pan.

For the topping, combine and toss together all the dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.

Add the extract, oil and juice and blend with a fork, or toss with you fingers until everything is combined. The mixture will be crumbly, not smooth like a batter.

Spread the topping evenly over the apple mixture. Pat down gently with your hands.

Bake at 350F degrees for 50-60 minutes. Poke a fork in the apples to make sure they are tender. Topping should be a dark golden brown. May be served warm or cold.

Serving suggestion: Best served warm with a scoop of non-dairy ice cream or non-dairy whipped topping.

Yield: 8 servings