Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting

strawberry lemon cupcakes with raspberry frosting
strawberry lemon cupcakes with raspberry frosting

A friend’s birthday is coming up and I want to make a dessert that’s easy to share at a celebration. Cupcakes come to mind, but I need to bake some that are a little extra special. Fruity flavors are enjoyable in the summer, with strawberries and lemon reminding one of a cool drink, so they are perfect in my cupcakes. All these cupcakes need are a sumptuous fruity frosting to put them in the realm of ‘special enough for a birthday.’

I found a vegan cupcake recipe that included my combo of lemon and strawberry. To prepare at high altitude, I added extra liquid and flour while reducing the baking powder. I also used dry sweetener instead of wet to help keep the cupcakes light and fluffy. Next I switched to a deeply fruit-flavored frosting to embrace summery tastes. Tasters raved about the cupcakes noting how airy they were, and the mix of fruity flavors were a welcome surprise.

Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting adapted from One Green Planet and Food Network

for the cupcakes
1/2 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1.5 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup organic sugar
generous 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup pureed strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the frosting
6 tablespoons vegan butter, cold
2 tablespoons vegan shortening
3 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons soy milk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raspberry fruit spread

Preheat oven to 325 F and line muffin tins with 14 paper cups. Whisk soy milk and apple cider vinegar together in a bowl or container. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to curdle.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Place pureed strawberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add curdled milk and stir ingredients together. Add dry ingredients and stir just until the batter is smooth. Scoop batter into lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through cooking time. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out with a few tiny crumbs. Let the tins sit on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes to a wire rack to fully cool.

While the cupcakes are cooling, begin the frosting by beating the butter and shortening together in a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, beating after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add the fruit spread and beat until smooth. Put the frosting in a piping bag with a star tip and frost the cooled cupcakes.

Until next time, happy baking!

Gluten-Free Blueberry and Cherry Bars

gluten free blueberry and cherry bars
gluten free blueberry and cherry bars

On a hot summer day, it’s nice to have an easy dessert recipe. Turning on the oven can take all of your energy, so slaving over a complicated treat is not welcome. Sometimes scooping out individual servings or cookies can be just too tiring. That’s when bar cookies come to the rescue. Mix, pour into a pan, bake, cool, and cut.

The bar cookie recipe I found was fruity (yay!), and I decided to make it gluten-free to share with friends (yay, again!). It was already vegan, and high altitude wasn’t much of an issue, so I subbed gluten-free ingredients, mixed up the fruit choices, and added a decadent icing. Now I had a dessert that was not only easy, but bursting with flavor and allergy-friendly goodness.

Gluten-Free Blueberry and Cherry Bars adapted from Blueberry Crumble Bars

1.75 cups gluten-free flour blend
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup organic sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup vegan margarine, room temperature and cut into slices
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup + 4 teaspoons nondairy milk, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen cherries, chopped into quarters
1/4 cup organic sugar
2 tablespoons potato starch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup organic confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8 x 8-inch pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, including an overhang of a few inches on two opposite sides.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, oats, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt to combine. In a medium bowl, combine the margarine, oil, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until mixed but with a few small clumps.

dry ingredients for blueberry cherry bars
dry ingredients for blueberry cherry bars

In a small bowl, gently combine the blueberries, cherries, 1/4 cup sugar, potato starch, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Using your hands, press three-quarters of the dough mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the coated fruit evenly on top of the dough. Sprinkle the remaining dough over the fruit layer. Bake for 50 minutes, until the top is crisp and bubbly. Place pan on a wire rack to let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make an icing by whisking the confectioner’s sugar over a bowl. Stir in the 4 teaspoons milk until well combined. When the bars have cooled, drizzle the icing over the bars. Then use the parchment paper overhand to lift the bars out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Cut into squares, and store in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Gluten-Free Marshmallow-Studded Cookies

gluten-free marshmallow studded cookies
gluten-free marshmallow studded cookies

Marshmallows and chocolate — what a yummy combination. Just thinking of them reminds me of summer parties with marshmallows made oooey gooey from time spent over a fire’s flame. Add a graham cracker or two with a chocolate square and you have s’mores. Or you can bake these cookies in the oven for a similar tasting but easier to make treat.

I discovered a vegan cookie recipe with these flavors that I could make gluten-free and adapt to my circumstances. Aquafaba was used to make a super flax egg for extra moisture and structure that is lacking at high altitude and in many gluten-free desserts. Also, I made sure to use baking powder to help activate the dutch-processed cocoa powder. The last change made to add extra rise was to use vegan butter that was not melted. The result was a chewy cookie with a crisp exterior.

My gluten-free testers raved about the cookie. One said that each bite was a different combination of tastes and flavors, while another said it was the best cookie she ever had. Not too shabby for a gluten-free and vegan treat baked at high altitude.

Gluten-Free Marshmallow-Studded Cookies adapted from Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
3 tablespoons aquafaba
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup vegan butter
1 cup vegan sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1 cup vegan marshmallows, chopped large or unchopped minis

Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flaxseed and aquafaba and set aside to thicken.

In a bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place vegan butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, and combine on medium-high speed. Add flax mixture, vanilla, and non-dairy milk, and combine on medium speed until the batter is soft and smooth. Add dry ingredients and beat to combine. Add chocolate chips and marshmallows and stir with a spoon to combine.

Scoop up 2 tablespoons of batter at a time and roll into a ball. Place each ball on a baking sheet and flatten slightly with the heel of your hand. Bake for 12-13 minutes, one tray at a time, rotating halfway through bake time. Let cool on the baking sheet for five minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. They may seem too soft, but will become firm and crisp as they cool. Do not store airtight or they will get soggy. Yield: 24-26 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking and happy 4th of July!