So many children have food allergies and sensitivities these days (gluten! nuts! milk!) that when it came time to make cupcakes for a Halloween party at Cody’s school I decided to figure out a way to make a treat the whole class could indulge in together- a frosted cupcake that was gluten free, milk free and made with agave instead of sugar. I also wanted to make them whole grain and I came up with these vanilla frosted pumpkin bread cupcakes. It seemed like in our class even though kids were sensitive to milk, baking with butter was ok. The kids gobbled these up-really!- and all I had left to photograph were the last two.
The thing I like about these is that they are moist and full of flavor, with a good crumb and don’t have that odd sandy texture so many gluten free products have. They were pleasantly sweet too, enough for the kids but not too much for the adults.
The tricky thing about trying to make cupcakes without sugar is the decorating. I’m always lured in by the fun, crazy, clever and wacky candy decorations but I really didn’t want all the extra sugar-cupcakes at school, then trick or treating after, plus we’d already done at least four other candy filled Halloween events. Instead, I happily stuck teeny tiny pumpkins on top nestled in the icing-I snipped them off an arrangements of tiny pumpkins on branches I found. The kids really marveled at the tiny pumpkins and we made up stories about how in the world they could really be so so small.
frosted pumpkin bread cupcakes:
makes 20 half full in regular muffin tins
I like making my own pureed pumpkin-I find the canned pumpkin has so little flavor plus it’s so easy to make your own. I cut a small pie pumpkin (the smaller ones are sweeter and more flavorful) in half, remove the seeds and bake cut side down in a pan with a 1/4″ of water at 350 degrees for about an hour or until the flesh is soft and a knife pierces through easily. The flesh is then easily scooped out. A small pumpkin with make more than enough for this recipe.
1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
1/3 cup of Agave Nectar at room temperature
1 3/4 cups of pureed pumpkin at room temperature
2 eggs at room temperature
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp of baking soda
2 tsp of baking powder
1 3/4 cups of Brown rice flour
1/4 cup of tapioca starch
Preheat oven to 325 F
Measure out the the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix or whisk together to combine well. In a separate bowl mix the butter until light in color and whipped-I use an old fashioned handheld mixer. Add the rest of the wet ingredients one by one mixing after each addition. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine. Scoop cupfuls of batter into muffin tins filled with cupcake wrappers. Make sure to level and smooth the tops otherwise they come out a bit too rugged on top for icing. Fill any empty muffin compartments halfway with water.
Bake for 50 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle-it should come out clean with crumbs on it.
(You can also bake this in a lightly buttered loaf pan-bake for 70 minutes plus-test for doneness the same way)
vanilla buttercream frosting:
1 cup butter at room temperature
3/4 cup light agave nectar
2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon sweet rice flour (or tapioca starch), more or less to your liking
Whip the butter-I use an old fashioned hand held mixer-until light in color and very fluffy. Add the agave slowly or in small parts mixing to combine with each addition. Add the vanilla, salt and sweet rice flour (or tapioca starch) and mix to combine. The flour gives the frosting some sturdiness and you can add a bit more or less to your liking.
Frost the cupcakes and decorate them while the frosting is soft at room temperature. Once frosted, the cupcakes will need to be refrigerated. You can serve them a bit cool, but I like them served room temperature.