Please forgive the excessive alliteration. As promised, here is my gluten free, dairy free spin on carrotcake, sized down to oh-so-portable cupcake form. I call these cupcakes because I really do consider them a worthy dessert, in spite of their nutritious ingredients and low sugar content (compared to traditional carrot cake). However, if you want to bake them for breakfast and call them muffins, I’m not going to judge you; they are also good fuel for starting the day. They are light and moist, and equally treat-like with or without icing. This recipe has been heartily approved by both gluten-free eaters and wheat-loving eaters. The Gent loves these cupcakes so much that when I recently baked them as a thank-you for some generous friends who stocked my cupboard with alternative, gluten free flours, he insisted that I make a double batch so he could have some, too. I was happy to oblige.
I’m not a fan of xanthan gum, and have been experimenting with other ingredients to avoid it. This recipe uses pectin-rich applesauce and sweet potato flour, both of which hold moisture and prevent the cupcakes from turning into the dry, crumbly mess so typical of many gluten free baked goods. A little psyllium husk adds extra texture and fiber. Finally, using pureed dates as part of the sweetener cuts down on added sugars from the agave nectar and also contributes to the satisfying mouthfeel of these moist, tender goodies.
Coconut Carrot Cupcakes
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup GF oat flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
2 Tbsp sweet potato flour (not potato starch)
1 Tbsp psyllium husk
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup dates, pits removed + 1/3 cup water
1/4 cup raw agave nectar
1/3 cup coconut oil, warmed just enough to melt
1/3 cup applesauce
2 cups finely shredded carrots
Pour 1/3 cup water over the dates, and heat in the microwave or a small saucepan until the water starts to boil. Set aside to soak while you assemble the other ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. I use silicone muffin cups laid out on a baking sheet, but if you bake with muffin tins, then grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.
Whisk together the dry ingredients (including the shredded coconut) in a large bowl. Combine the wet ingredients, including the dates with their soaking liquid, in the canister of a food processor or powerful blender. Puree until smooth and frothy. Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Gently fold in the shredded carrots until well combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. You can fill the cups almost to the top, because gluten free baked goods don’t rise quite as high as those made with wheat flour. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until tops spring back firmly when touched.
Makes 12 cupcakes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week… if they last that long!
Caramel Cashew Icing
The caramel flavor of the icing comes from raw agave nectar. You can add a splash of vanilla or coconut extract as well, but I like the subtle flavor of the agave nectar itself.
1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup raw agave nectar
1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight or longer
Optional: vanilla or coconut extract to taste
Soak the cashews in 2 cups cold water for at least an hour before making the icing. Drain the cashews and place them in a food processor or powerful blender (I used a Vitamix). Add the agave nectar. Open the can of coconut milk and skim off the coconut “cream,” which should have separated and firmed up in the refrigerator overnight. Add the coconut cream to the food processor and reserve the coconut water for another use. Blend until smooth and creamy, adjusting the flavor with vanilla or coconut extract if desired. Store the icing in the refrigerator, and drizzle over cupcakes before serving.