Gluten-free and dairy-free do not mean delicious-free. In my case it certainly doesn’t always mean pretty. I mean, did you see my photo above? But with vanilla cupcakes filled with sticky butterscotch and topped with a caramel buttercream, dairy-free and gluten-free are completely sinful. Basically if anyone ever made me these cupcakes I’d die of joy. Instead, I made them myself. But some day, SOME DAY, someone will make me these cupcakes and that will be an even more spectacular day. I’m just saying, if someone makes YOU these cupcakes, keep them.
There’s always a way to replace an ingredient. Some substitutions are worse than others…and when a recipe goes out of balance, it can really go out of balance (too much baking soda and your baked goods taste hollow, and not enough fat and your roasted veggies burn).
But caramel is completely replaceable. It’s easy, in fact. Even if you don’t eat refined sugar. I don’t use xylitol or powdered stevia, but theoretically those would even work here (xylitol would be much better because of the lack of aftertaste). The best option for a lower glycemic index is coconut sugar, but I made this recipe using regular white sugar. Don’t start messing with puréed dates, though. Honey and maple syrup are fine. My theory is, though, don’t mess with a recipe if you don’t have to. Make the fewest amount of changes possible and your chance of success will be much higher, assuming the recipe is good in the first place. And all the recipes from my favourite dessert blog, Sprinkle Bakes, are stellar. I could hae made these triple salted caramel cupcakes by making the caramel tuile type thing on top, but two caramels were enough for one day, so I just drizzled my extra cooled caramel filling over top of the buttercream.
And my friend in a very French cooking school who’d never eaten anything gluten-free and/or dairy-free even said it was good. The texture was different because of the amaranth and rice flour, but not bad, just different. And cooks and bakers are always trying to come up with new things, new tastes, new textures, so he liked it. And, as with roasted garlic, who doesn’t like caramel? No one I want to meet, that’s for sure.
Double Salted Caramel Cupcakes (gluten-free, dairy-free)
adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
3/4 cups amaranth flour (or tapioca flour, or a mix of the two. Amaranth is naturally sweeter so I like to use it for baked goods)
1/8 tsp guar gum
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup earth balance, at room temperature, or other vegan margarine (not oil unless you’re desperate. It will change the consistency)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature (you can use egg replacer equivalent to two eggs, but they won’t rise as much)
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla or plain almond milk
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp water
3 tablespoons earth balance or other vegan margarine
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons almond milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 cup earth balance shortening, or other dairy-free shortening. I used regular earth balance spread but the spread likes to melt at room temperature, making a very poor frosting. “Gloop” is not frosting)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar