Hannah Kaminsky, Bittersweet and author of My Sweet Vegan – When it comes right down to it, the only real way that I can gauge my success is through the happiness of others. If I couldn’t share my baking experiments, if my crafts didn’t put a smile on someone’s face, well, I don’t know that the whole process of creating would be quite as much fun.
Of course, that wouldn’t stop me from going about my crafty ways, but it would certainly be a far less fulfilling path than what I have been lucky enough to follow up to this point. Seeing a friend’s eyes light up, hearing their voice brimming with delight and knowing that I was responsible makes every oven burn and the frustration of dropped stitches worth it.
Small tokens made from the heart always get to me, especially when they’re of the edible sort. Being vegan, I know that any friend who makes me a special treat is really going out of their way to accommodate my needs and still give me something enjoyable. Dietary restrictions are certainly tough to work around for even the most savvy baker, be it the need to limit sugar, exclude animal products, or remove wheat altogether. This last one has always proved to be a nearly impossible obstacle for me to overcome, because what is a baked good if not a product of wheat flour and sugar in various forms? After a good bit of thinking, it occurred to me that this is exactly how many people might view vegan baking- An impossible feat, only because they had never thought to approach this traditional craft in such an unconventional way. Sure, the first couple of tries are bound to fail and perhaps reinforce the stereotype to some, but for those who don’t give up, the eventual success is all the more sweet.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but if I might be so bold, I would have have to say that everyone loves cupcakes. It just kills me when someone is forced to turn down one of these miniature morsels of cakey delight due to health or moral issues, as I think that everyone should be able to eat cupcakes if they so desire. That’s why the request for a wheat-free version of my most popular recipe online, the Rootbeer Float Cupcakes, really took me by the throat and got my full attention.
Wheat-free cake has been one of my biggest stumbling blocks in this field, proving far more challenging to create than pedestrian baked goods like cookies and candies. Now, I’m a firm believer that trial can only lead to error so many times before success begins to enter the picture… And in the end, I’m happy to offer all of you cupcakes, suitable for vegans, sufferers of celiac’s, and omnivores alike. Trust me on this, these sweet treats don’t sacrifice flavor or texture for all that they “lack,” and you may be surprised what you can do without wheat if you just give it a chance. My only regret is that I didn’t do enough research to pick out a flour that was gluten-free, as spelt still can not be tolerated by those extremely sensitive to gluten. I guess this is a stepping stone to full-fledged gluten-free goodies… But I would bet that if you just used something like teff flour… Well, I need to experiment further with these, but for now, I consider this some serious progress!
And if you really want to treat your loved ones, isn’t baking with an open heart and open mind the sweetest gift of all?
1 Cup Rootbeer Soda
1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Teaspoons Rootbeer Extract / Concentrate
1 Cup Spelt Flour
1/4 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Cornstarch
1 Teaspoon Xanthan Gum
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
5 Ounce Dark Chocolate
1/4 Cup Soymilk
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
1 Cup Vegetable Shortening
3 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Soymilk
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a dozen cupcake tins with papers.
Combine the soda and vinegar and let stand for a few minutes. Add in the sugar and oil, whisking vigorously until slightly frothy. Integrate your extracts, and add in both flours, cornstarch, and xanthan gum. Mix well to ensure that there are no errant lumps hiding about, since you don’t need to worry about overmixing and forming gluten! Distributing the batter evenly between the prepared tins, fill cupcake liners approximately 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes. Allow them to cool completely before proceeding to make the ganache.
When the cupcakes are at room temperature, combine all of the ingredients for the ganache in a microwave-safe container and nuke for about a minute. Stir thoroughly even if it doesn’t look completely melted – It should come together after a bit of agitation, but if the chocolate still isn’t entirely smooth, return to the microwave for 15-30 seconds at a time, watching carefully to ensure that it doesn’t burn. Drizzle the ganache in squiggles over the tops of the cupcakes. Allow ganache squiggles to fully cool and dry before preparing the frosting.
Beat the shortening thoroughly using your stand mixer until creamed. Add in sugar and start on a low speed so as not to spray powder everywhere. Incorporate soymilk and extract, and combine thoroughly. Frost your cupcakes and share them freely!