Thursday, July 17, 2014

Salted Caramel Cupcakes (GF!)

It's been a crazy summer thus far, but moving day is almost upon us! Tomorrow I will move out of the Cambridge apartment in which I've lived for the majority of my time at MIT and into a new apartment in Somerville. I'm most excited for my spacious bedroom and the lack of central AC. Seriously! I'm chronically cold and it's such a bummer to have to sleep in thermal long-sleeved flannel pajamas under 4 blankets in the middle of July. Hurrah for short-sleeves and one quilt! I have also really enjoyed the space in my 8' by 9' prison cell room that has happened by trading in my queen bed for a twin air mattress. I'm excited to set up my full bed in a 10' x 13" space. I may even have some space to do core and work in my bedroom now.

One thing that I definitely wanted to do before moving, was celebrate my roommate/ best friend's birthday that was on July 1st. While I'm looking forward to the warmth of the new apartment, using the oven in a non-air conditioned home in July is just crazy. So I've been on the lookout for a good gluten free cake recipe to make before we move. The first year she found out she was gluten intolerant, I used a gluten free box mix and then in subsequent years I've used store-bought gluten free flour. This year though, I wasn't really feeling the $10 for a 1lb box of flour. So when I saw this recipe for Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes on Hungry Curious, I got really excited and knew I had to make my own version, since I hate bananas and that's what is used as the binder. This recipe calls for only oat flour, which is by far my favorite gluten free flour: since it's made by simply food processing rolled oats, it's almost a cheap as wheat flour and it's nutrient dense to boot since it's a whole grain. The one problem that I've had with making cakes from oat flour though is that the center of the cake will fall once the cake is cooled, since the elasticity of gluten is what lets it keep that shape. This has happened without fail, no matter how much binder or leavening agent I add! This recipe cleverly disguises and makes use of the central divot in the cupcake by filling it with salted caramel. Genius! 

The other critical part of the birthday celebration is the trip. Last year, we took an amazing trip up to Cape Ann and saw 4 lighthouse, visited a beach, and also had lunch and salt water taffy in our favorite town (Rockport). This year though, we opted for a lower key adventure with a sunrise trip to Revere Beach. If you haven't been, this is a great weekend to check Revere Beach out because it's hosting it's annual Sand Castle Competition! This morning though, The sandcastles weren't very far along due to a rain storm last night. Instead, we took the opportunity to revel in the calm before the storm and enjoyed the waves crashing on a pristine, empty beach. Although it was overcast, we still enjoyed the beautiful views.

Salted Caramel Cupcakes (GF!)


1c rolled oats, food processed to oat flour
1/3c almond meal
2/3c cocoa powder
1tsp baking soda
2tsp baking powder
3T brown or raw sugar (optional)
pinch sea salt
1T flax seed + 3T warm water
1c almond milk (unsweeted vanilla)
1/4c maple syrup
2T coconut oil
1t vanilla
1T apple cider vinegar

Salted Caramel

1/2c salted almond butter
1/2c maple syrup
1T coconut oil
1t vanilla
sea salt to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. In a food processor, food process 1c rolled oats to a fine flour.
3. Add 1T flax seed to 3T warm water and set aside to soak.
4. Add oat flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar to a mixing bowl and stir to combine. The original doesn't call for sugar and I rarely use it but a birthday is a special occasion!
5. Add flax seed, almond milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine. (Note: you don't need to use an electric mixer like most cakes, just a spoon will do)
6. Stir in apple cider vinegar.
7. Fill 10 cupcake tins with the batter and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

8. While the cupcakes are done baking (or the next day), add all the ingredients for the salted caramel to a sauce pan. I chose to be conservative with the salt and add additional salt crystals on top once I tasted the caramel to make sure I didn't make it too salty.
9. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly.
10. Once the edges start to bubble, keep stirring an additional two minutes. (Or: stop when it first starts to bubble for a runny caramel, or boil up to  four minutes for a stiffer caramel. Just keep stirring!)
11. Drop a generous spoonful of the caramel on the top of each cupcake. Wait until the caramel is cool so that you don't burn your mouth! It's tough, I know, but it's only 10 minutes... Enjoy!

Nut-free version: Replace almond milk with soy milk, almond butter with sunflower butter, and the almond meal with an additional 2T cocoa powder and 2T oat flour.

More sandcastles to come at Revere this weekend!

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