I know Christmas has come and gone now, but I still wanted to share these delicious cupcakes with you. I made these for Christmas Eve dinner and they were a huge hit, my 2-year old niece took one bite of the one I was about to eat and ran off with it before I even took a bite! They are super fluffy and moist with a perfect balance of chocolate gooey-ness inside and a bright peppermint burst from the peppermint extract inside and the candy cane bits on top. I told you I have been on a chocolate peppermint kick! I adapted Elana’s Almond Fudge Cupcake recipe from her cupcake cookbook, substituting peppermint extract for the almond extract. I really wanted a strong peppermint flavor so I kept it at the 1 tablespoon, but I actually think it could use a bit less (use your judgement). I cannot get over how incredible and simple Elana’s cupcake recipes are, in terms of flours and starches, these delicious treats only had almond flour and coconut flour, that’s it – no gums, no starches, no oil or butter, it is so simple. I, once again, also used Elana’s vegan chocolate frosting recipe from her cookbook, because I absolutely love how simple it is to make and I almost always have everything on hand to just whip it up quickly. If you are gluten-free and you don’t own Elana’s Gluten-free Cupcakes cookbook, you need to get it ASAP!
I want to note that I have almost completely stopped baking with agave nectar since I learned a few months ago that even though it is an unrefined vegan sugar-alternative, naturally coming from a cactus plant and having a low-glycemic index, it has been discovered it is very high in fructose and it’s affects on the body are very similar to that of high-fructose corn syrup. Yes it is true that sugar is sugar no matter what the source and I know everyone has their own opinions on all sugars and sugar alternatives and it is also true that no sugar is truly good for you, per se. I just personally try to limit my sugar intake (no matter what the source) and be smart when I do use sugar and sugar alternatives, choosing things that I know work for me, like dates or bananas to sweeten things like smoothies, cookies and muffins, naturally whenever possible or choosing coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup when those won’t work in baking, etc. There are times when a recipe is best made with sugar and I will obviously go that route and in this particular recipe since I was adapting a recipe from Elana’s Pantry, who uses agave nectar quite often, I decided rather than experimenting, to just keep the recipe as is in that way and use the remaining agave I had in the pantry from before. I figured it was best to keep the recipe with it’s original ratios, to avoid a Christmas eve cupcake failure. Leanne from Healthful Pursuit has a wonderful video here about healthy alternative sweeteners.
The holiday celebrations continue for us until New Years Day, so I hope to be making other goodies in the next few days. We have dinner with the family tonight, a big Greek feast with souvlaki and avgolemono soup, I am not doing any of the cooking or baking for tonight, but we are heading down to Kentucky later this week to visit with Mark’s family and celebrate Christmas and New Years there, so I plan to make some healthy treats for us all to munch on then.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Day, hanukkah or whatever you celebrate! Did you make any special treats for the holidays? Are your holiday celebrations continuing this entire week, like ours?
makes 12 cupcakes
Adapted from Elana Amsterdam’s Almond Fudge Cupcake recipe from “Gluten-Free Cupcakes – 50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour”
1 cup blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 large farm-fresh brown eggs
1/2 cup honey or agave nectar
1 tablespoon peppermint extract (use less here if you want the peppermint flavor to be subtle)
1/2 cup dairy-free mini dark chocolate chips (73% cacao)
1/4 cup crushed candy canes (corn syrup free, if you can find them)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, agave nectar, and peppermint extract. Blend the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture with a handheld mixer until thoroughly combined, then stir in the mini chocolate chops.
Scoop 1/4 cup of the batter into each prepared muffin cup.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center a cupcake comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it. Let the cupcakes cook in the pan for 1 hour, then frost (see below recipe), sprinkle with candy cane bits and serve.
Vegan Chocolate Frosting
6 ounces dark chocolate chips (73% cacao) (about 1 heaping cup)
1/2 cup Spectrum all-vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum sustainable organic palm oil shortening)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon water
Pinch of sea salt
Heat the chocolate in a medium saucepan over a very low heat, melt until it is smooth. (You can also melt them in the microwave in a medium glass microwave-safe bowl). Allow the pan or bowl to rest on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes to cool the chocolate to room temperature.
With a handheld mixer, blend in the shortening, then blend in the agave nectar, vanilla extract, water and salt until smooth. Place the saucepan in the refrigerator for 3 to 8 minutes, until the frosting is spreadable.
If the frosting gets too stiff to work with, reheat the pan very briefly over a low heat and stir until it is softened. If the frosting is too runny, place it back in the refrigerator until it firms up.
Use the frosting immediately or store in a glass Mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.