Recipe: Vegan & Gluten-Free Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes

Recipe: Vegan & Gluten-Free Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes

(Image credit: Sara Kate Gillingham)

While we have ample vegan and gluten-free coverage on The Kitchn, unless it's naturally free of milk, eggs or gluten (say, a green salad) these recipes are not usually coming from my corner of the test kitchen.

There's one recipe, however, that I've worked on quite a bit; a vegan and gluten-free chocolate cupcake that I first had when someone brought a dozen to my house for a party. They were gooey and dark and had a sweet coconut icing on top. I knew there was something different about them, but I had no idea until later that they had no wheat flour, butter or eggs.

(Image credit: Sara Kate Gillingham)

So I played with her recipe a bit, tweaking a few things, trying to make a cupcake that was both vegan and gluten-free, but without the specialty ingredients like egg replacers, soy powder, and xanthan gum often found in recipes like this. The result? Pretty good.

Rather than make my own gluten-free flour mix, I tried two different commercial products: Trader Joe's Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour and Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour. Both worked well and saved me from wasting extra rice flour, potato starch and the like. If you're up for making your own, follow Shauna Ahern's instructions on her blog Gluten-Free Girl.

I still prefer my wheat flours and buttercreams, but thanks to these little confections, I do believe that you don't need to go without cake just because you, or a handful of your guests, have a few dietary restrictions.

Vegan & Gluten-Free Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups gluten-free flour mix
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut oil, liquified and at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract

For the icing:
3/4 cup coconut oil, liquified and at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons almond milk
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted

Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine the ground flax seeds and warm water. Set aside to gel, about 10 minutes. In another small bowl, combine the almond milk and cider vinegar. Set it aside for a few minutes to curdle. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Whisk the coconut oil and almond extract into the curdled almond milk mixture, and then immediately stir both the wet ingredients and gelled flax mixture into the dry ingredients. Beat vigorously for about one minute.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cupcake tin. Bake about 20 minutes, or until just barely set in the middle. Set aside to cool before frosting.

To prepare the icing, place the coconut oil and almond extract in the bowl of a stand-mixer, or use a hand-held electric mixer or wooden spoon to beat vigorously. Add the powdered sugar and beat to combine. Beat in the almond milk gradually until well-combined. (This icing will not be as fluffy as butter-based frostings.)

When the cupcakes are completely cool, frost with the coconut icing then sprinkle each cupcake with a spoonful of flaked coconut.

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