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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

{Guest Recipe} Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (Wheat, Nut, Milk, Egg and Fish-Free, Can Be Soy-Free)

Today I have my first guest blogger of 2013, Justine Levine!
(And that rhymes, so you know it's going to be an awesome post! :) )
Justine Levine is a writer, blogger, foodie, and yogini who is passionate about locally produced sustainable food sources.  Though she learned early to be flexible with ingredients because of friends who followed vegetarian, Kosher, vegan, and low-GI diets, she became interested in allergy-friendly cooking and baking through blogging. 
Her blog, A Half Baked Life, is about the search for balanced living in an imbalanced world; Justine writes about food, her CSA, yoga, parenting after infertility and pregnancy loss, and life in general.  Her recipes often include allergy-friendly substitutions.
Please join me in welcoming Justine, and please don't forget to leave her some comment love below!  Thanks!
Here’s my recipe.  But first, the story that inspired the recipe …
In my church, coffee hour is a big deal.  It’s a time for fellowship, for community, for creating the foundation that makes our fellowship thrive.  And it’s not just a time for adults, either; children are an important part of our fellowship, and it’s not uncommon to see adults having real conversations with young people.
I’d noticed that one formerly engaging and happy little girl had recently taking to hiding in the folds of her mother’s clothing, and asked what was up.  Her mother told me she had just been tested for allergies, after suffering from gastrointestinal distress for years.  The verdict?  Allergies to wheat, gluten, dairy, flax, nuts.  Which pretty much rules out everything on the table at coffee hour.
Her mother had tried to smooth things over, bringing treats that she could share, but nothing really tasted like what was on offer, and the little girl didn’t want to talk with anyone about her allergies.  She felt isolated, left out, and ashamed.  I’d been experimenting with vegan and with gluten-free baking, so I asked her mother if I could bring her some treats the next week, and talk about some of the famous allergy-friendly chefs that inspired me.
Her mother was thrilled, and so these gluten-free vegan cupcakes were born.  The look on the little girl’s face the next Sunday was priceless; you would have thought I’d given her the moon.
The secret to successful vegan and gluten-free baking, in my opinion, is good ingredients.  Don’t skimp on the really good vanilla, or the really good cocoa powder.  They make a huge difference.
Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
(adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

1 c. soy milk
1 t. apple cider vinegar
3/4 c. evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar
1/3 c. grapeseed or canola oil
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
3/4 c. fava bean and garbanzo flour
1/4 c. potato starch
2 T. arrowroot
(or substitute the above three with 1 c. Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free all purpose baking flour)*
3/4 t. xanthan gum (optional, but it does make for a less crumbly cake)
1/3 c. good quality cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with your liners of choice.

Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK). Be careful not to overmix; you'll find that if you do, your cupcakes will sink in the middle after baking!

Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
*Some friends have used Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Dough mix with some success; this mix already has xanthan gum included.

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Frosting
1/2 c. nonhydrogenated shortening (Spectrum organic)
1/2 c. nonhydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance Vegan)
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 c. plain soy milk or soy creamer
1/4 c. or more of cocoa powder

Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.

Add the vanilla and soy milk, and beat for another 5 to 7 minutes until fluffy.

You can add cocoa powder to the frosting to make it chocolatey ... add until you like the taste.
 To make these soy-free: I've been tinkering with the recipe, and my early experiments suggest that you can also use 1/2 c. (instead of 1 c.) rice milk or other milk when the recipe calls for clabbering the milk.   Later, you will need to add 1/2 c. applesauce (mixed in with wet ingredients) and 1 t. baking powder in addition to what is called for (sifted with the dry ingredients) ... the soy milk serves both to moisten the batter and as a binding agent, so you need substitutions to do a bit of both.  (From Julie: If you are sensitive to xanthan gum, you can use an equal amount of ground flax seed in its place as well.  Also, in the frosting, use soy-free options for the shortening, margarine and soy milk to make these completely soy-free.)
(Note from Julie: These cupcakes with frosting are wheat, nut, milk, egg and fish-free, and can be soy-free if you use all soy-free ingredients.)

You can connect with Justine at the following locations:

A Half Baked Life

Google+ (JustineLevine)

Thanks again for joining us, Justine!

Here's your badge, if you'd like to use it.


  1. Thanks, Justine...I think I have gotten you followed on the social media outlets and on your blog as well. I am the administrator of a very active FB group (not my page...@Julie...I'm still trying to figure out how to add you in!! LOL) and one of my "Honey Badgers" was diagnosed with...I can't remember what it was exactly...but she has to eat a GF diet. I think you could really help her out. I did not know about all these substitutions. I don't really have much in the way of dietary restrictions, so, to honest, it's not something I ever really thought about until my neighbor that I cook for turned out to be diabetic and then my friend in my group. That opened my eyes to a lot of different things and alternatives. I hope you give me a visit on my blog Baked Lava someday because I'd love to have you! Thanks, again!!

    1. Hi, Laurrie! I think it's great that you're being supportive of your friends ... that's definitely opened new worlds for me when it comes to cooking, and in some ways, healthier, too!

      Love your blog. :)

  2. I love food and so far not had any restrictions in my diet, but, of late I've come across different diets. Your post too has got me interested on this topic. After my daughter's high school exams ending March 2013, I'm going to make it a point to learn more about it.

    1. I think there are more people out there than ever before who are unable to eat certain things ... and it's great to be sensitive to those needs, even when we're not directly affected ourselves! So much of what we eat now is also so over-processed, that it's useful to try to avoid those things in our own diets.

  3. Only Justine can make me cry and salivate on a regular basis when reading her posts! I know I am already feeling emotional today, but reading the story of how you helped that little girl from your church enjoy coffee hour after being diagnosed with food allergies melted my heart. That recipes is so impressive, it sounds a bit overwhelming to me, but I know that I could do it if I tried and followed each of your steps. I plan to post a link to this on Facebook, as though I don't have any immediate family members with food allergies and sensitivities. I know lots of people who do and would benefit from seeing this recipe and Julie's site. Thanks again for sharing your thoughtfulness and creativity in your storytelling and your baking.

    1. Kathy, it's not as hard as it sounds, even with the unfamiliar-sounding ingredients! The smile on that little girl's face made it all worthwhile. Julie is doing such a great thing here by making these resources available in one place! So many sites have information about avoiding one allergen, but it's trickier to negotiate multiple food sensitivities.

    2. Thanks, Justine! :) I'm happy to do it!

  4. Thank you to all who have shown comment love to Justine so far today! :)

    To Kathy, thank you for passing the word along! The more people out there I (we) can help, the better! :)

    Feel free to email me any time with any questions or concerns. My email is always open.

  5. These look amazing: I remember pinning this receipe a while ago. Justine is a wonderful writer, cook and human being :)

    1. *blushing* ... thanks, Jjiraffe! (And it's the frosting that makes these look so fabulous ... vegan products make some fabuous fluffy frosting).

  6. What a godsend (pun intended) you were for the girl and her mom.

    I have a friend I should share this with. THANK YOU!

  7. Thanks for the recipe. My daughter was allergic to all things corn when she was two. Corn was and is in everything. I had a list of forty words I had to look for that meant corn. I even had to get her sea salt because corn starch is in salt to keep it from clumping. Her favorite treat was a Washington Pie (imagine Boston Cream Pie with strawberries). Thanks for being there for the little girl. I've been gluten-free since October and it so far has been easy for me because I haven't replaced the bread products. I am looking forward to baking and will be popping in from time to time.

    1. Corn is a tricky one ... even more so than gluten, I think. I do think that being gluten-free is easiest if you don't replace bread, but as someone who loves to bake, I think I'd miss an occasional treat. :) So glad that this site will be helpful to you!

  8. Oh, these look so good. I'm passing this recipe along to a friend who I KNOW will want to make them immediately. (I am baking challenged)

  9. Fantastic post! The cupcakes look great but the story behind them in even better! Having seen my boys faces look so sad I can only imagine this little girl :( Glad you gave "her the moon!!" Can't wait to try the recipe!

  10. {Melinda} Those look amazing!! Such a sweet story that inspired these.

  11. Can you substitute almond milk for soy milk ? Can you substitute coconut oil for the oils you suggested ?

    1. I would think those substitutions would work out beautifully. It might change the flavor some, but the cupcakes should still turn out.


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