For those of us who ended up not being a brain surgeon, rocket scientist, or astronaut, there’s always a bit of wonder about what could have been- and a tinge of regret. My lovely friend B was very amused at the idea of injecting cupcakes- and apparently somewhat regrets not having become a doctor- and requested a ‘sugery date’ during which we would inject some cupcakes together. Of course, that alone isn’t enough of a challenge, so we had to add a little something to the mix: B is gluten-intolerant. To add to the fun, she has trouble with lactose, particularly with cow’s milk. So basically we needed to make a cupcake that was gluten-free, with something to inject that is low(er) on the milk. Yikes! Challenge! What to make?
I decided to peruse my I Heart Sugar cookbook (it’s a delicious one to look through) and found a Raspberry Almond Cupcake recipe that seemed good. I was wary of the raspberries and had a large influx of strawberries my mother had kindly delivered the weekend before, and thus opted for strawberries in stead (after a brief consultation with B get approval).
The cake is a bit moist where the berries settled in- despite drying them for a few hours beforehand and parching their thirst upon paper towels. Despite this, they’re really yummy (note: you must be fairly crazy about almonds to agree with that statement). They’re low-fat, almost vegan friendly (darn you, eggs, I wasn’t of a mind to substitute you with pumpkin), and use all-natural ingredients. They’ve got chewiness and crunch. And with a little strawberry chunk and powdered sugar on top, what’s not to like?
Gluten-Free Strawberry Almond Cupcakes
Adapted from Raspberry Almond Cupcakes from I Love Sugar
- 2/3 cup organic rice flour
- 2/3 cup organic almond meal (I used Arrowhead Mills)
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 vegan buttery stick (earth balance) (aka 1/2 cup butter)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp organic almond extract
- 2 eggs, brown, organic, cage-free
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 pound fresh strawberries
- 1/2 package neufchatel reduced fat cream cheese
- 1/4 cup whole dry-roasted sugar-coated almonds
- confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- Cut all but 5 of the strawberries into 1/2-inch chunks and place on a plate covered with a paper towel. Place another paper towel on top, press firmly, and leave otuside to dry for as long as you can (preferably a few hours at the least)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line 14 large cupcake cups or some combination of large and little cups (amount of batter may differ for you slightly)
- Place the butter (softened), sugar, and almond extract in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs in to the mix one at a time, then sift in the flour and baking powder. Stir the mixture with a large wooden spoon, then fold in the almond meal. Lastly, fold in the dried strawberry chunks.
- Spoon the mixture about 1/2-full into the cups. Sprinkle slivered almond pieces on top and bake for 20 minutes.
- While the cupcakes are baking, place the cream cheese, two of the strawberries (chopped coarsely), and the almonds in a food processor (if your almonds are whole and crunchy, you can process these first into tiny pieces). Process until you have a thick, creamy batter.
- Remove the cupcakes from the oven (tops should be just turning golden-brown and cracking towards the center) and place to cool on a wire rack.
- Fill a piping bag or tube with the crea, cheese mixture and inject the cupcakes, taking a long injecting tip (thin, long, tubular) and placing it halfway through the cupcake from the top. Press the batter in, and stop when the cupcake ‘pops’- you’ll see it suddenly pop upward and puff up slightly. This means it’s taken its fill of cream cheese :)
- Once all the cupcakes are filled, dust with powdered sugar, and place a strawberry slice on top. Enjoy!
B holds that the best part of these is the injected cream cheese batter, but I like them better as-is, and would want to make them strawberry-less. The almond taste is so whole and good, and you get it from so many sides (almond extract, almond meal, crushed almonds, slivered almonds) that it’s like an almond attack! Watch out! They may come for your taste buds!