At last, it’s what you’ve all been waiting for: healthier funfetti cupcakes minus sprinkles! Just kidding–I know you haven’t been waiting. Also, these have sprinkles. But not too much.
For some time, I’ve been wanting to create a wholesome, all-natural version of funfetti cupcakes. It took awhile to actually get down to it, because I don’t actually really like funfetti cupcakes. But, my lovely friend Hannah does, and it’s a birthday tradition for her to have them. Her sweet girls make her the real deal, tempting with glorious color bursts. This year I wanted to try my hand at a lighter version…the kind you could even eat for breakfast if you scraped off the frosting.
It may seem too embarrassing to admit, but some nights I found myself waking up, brain wrinkled with a torrent of unlikely sprinkles replacements. Would it be very finely grated and chopped beets, and carrots? Little dots of injected purple cabbage juice? Um, no. At least to the cabbage juice.
When I really got down to the business of funfetti play, I couldn’t bring myself to exclude sprinkles altogether, although I am sure somebody has/will with delectable success. But on this occasion I couldn’t help but conclude, aren’t the sprinkles the fun in the fetti?
This is not to say a compromise didn’t emerge. One did. With it being the holiday season, I’m going to call it Christmas magic, though it was actually obvious and convenient. For this batch of funfetti cupcakes–which, truly, could be muffins– I used just 1/4 cup of sprinkles ( a little more for decoration), and enhanced the look and flavor with chopped cranberries and raspberries. Orange juice works as well as non-dairy milk of choice; in fact, I think I prefer it. In any case, it’s worth the experimentation. Trial by error yumminess.
Happy New Year!
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup maple syrup or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used almond) or orange juice
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 1/4 cup aquafaba (chickpea liquid) or 1 beaten egg, if not vegan
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
- 1/3 cup finely chopped cranberries
- 1/3 cup chopped raspberries
- 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles plus additional for decoration
- vegan frosting of choice (I like making one with powdered sugar, tofu, and melted dark chocolate)
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
- Mix together flour, maple syrup or sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in non-dairy milk or orange juice, coconut oil, applesauce, aquafaba or egg. Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries, raspberries and sprinkles. Spoon into baking cups, filling about 2/3 of the way full.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.
Remember that time–like ten days ago–when I waxed on a little about Pumpkin Spice Love? You know, pumpkin cheer, pumpkin chili, pumpkin bread, soup, pie…you name it. Well, this pumpkin gingerbread marries all that pure pumpkin sentiment with two of my other favorite things to dive into and borderline obsess over: the holiday season, and aquafaba.
Whether or not you’ve heard of it, you have been aware of aquafaba for a long time. It’s the briny liquid left when you drain canned or cooked chickpeas, and it’s a vegan dream. As well as a vegan-ish dream, apparently, since I suppose that is really the more appropriate term in our household. I was recently introduced to it by my friend Sarah, when she innocently asked me if I’d heard of it. Since then, not only have Sarah and I been indulging in a text frenzy of parallel yet distinct experimental aquafaba journeys, I seem to be making it an unconscious mission to spread the fever. Case in point, quick glimpse of text thread with my cooking queen friend Kristin yesterday:
I could, and will, ramble on much longer about aquafaba awesomeness, but not yet. Because, today Sarah and I pulled off a super efficient and productive aquafaba playdate, yielding five glorious festive creations highlighting supercalegumerific exgarbanzolisciousness. And I’ll need a little time to type that up. In the meantime, consider the warm spice and richness of pumpkin gingerbread that happens to be pretty low sugar (maple syrup and molasses sweetened), easily tweakable, vegan and gluten-free.
This was inspired by a beautiful pumpkin gingerbread from Oh She Glows. I expect you could pull off any favorite flour or gluten-free blend, but I do think that the 1/2 cup coconut flour and 1/2 cup almond flour mix for half of that makes for a really nice, almost custard-like texture that works. I used 1/2 cup chickpea flour and 1/2 cup sprouted rice flour for the remainder, but only because I had a bunch of remnants in bitty bags that were cluttering my cupboard. The combination was just right, but so could have been others. Try and see.
On that note, remember that time–also ten days ago, that same time I was talking about before–when I implied I would make an effort to post recipes I wanted to record even if there wasn’t time to say a whole lot about them? This is me attempting to follow through on that. Happy Thanksgiving!
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 6 tablespoons aquafaba (chickpea water)
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1 cup gluten-free flour blend of choice (I used 1/2 cup chickpea and 1/2 cup sprouted rice)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamonm
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
- 1/3 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Combine first five ingredients (pumpkin through aquafaba) in a medium-sized mixing bowl and blend well.
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and stir well.
- Stir in raisins and chopped ginger, if using.
- Pour the batter into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Bake for approximately 55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
This back-to-back post is me trying in my way to make up for the long lapses in this recipe log of late. Not that anyone’s been waiting around with baited breath or anything–but when I let gaps widen, I just get this nagging sense of things being…incomplete. I know you know what I mean.
What’s been most aggravating about the cyber silence has been that there have been so many recipes I’ve wanted to share/stop myself from forgetting. There’s also been a big, monstrous, lack of time. Also a little, shadowy voice that begs, ‘what’s the point’, says ‘go to bed’. Until this week.
I had taught an after school cooking class to kids at the school where I used to work. The class over, I was stood at the sink washing dishes calculating for the umpteenth time how much money was essentially paying to take said class once childcare was factored in. And I found myself feeling a little ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong–this particular circumstance is the epitome of resonant, genuine “not in it for the money” intentions. I enjoy it, and I get to see the friendly faces of the wonderful school community and people where I used to work. But in that tired moment I just felt almost embarrassed, like a hanger-on behind whose back everyone must be raising eyebrows for randomly showing up. And then at that moment, a parent of one of the students walked in and handed me a Starbucks card. Her eyes welled with tears as she thanked me for taking the time to offer the class, how her son loved it, and how his prior school experiences had been rocky, with a lack of enrichment opportunities.
And just like that, everything turned around. I felt recharged with a sense that every little effort counts. Showing up matters. Taking a moment to check in means something, even if it’s just a check-in with your future self. Posting a recipe is a worthwhile action, even with minimal description (which, apparently, this is not, but might have been.)
And speaking of. Let’s talk pumpkin. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin chili, pumpkin shakes, pumpkin pumpkin…I love it. I love the cheeriness, the versatility, all it symbolizes. So what did it take me so long to throw it into the ice cream maker with coconut milk, spice, and a little maple syrup? Maybe because every mom’s favorite frozen banana blender trick with some pumpkin puree and spice mixed in works just as well and is healthier. (Really, it’s scrummy.) But the ice cream maker version sans banana is just that bit decadent and special and worthwhile. Try and see. Ice cream isn’t just for summer. ; )
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pie filling), or 1 3/4 cups
- 1 15-ounce can coconut milk (light works great!)
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup pure maple syrup depending on taste
- Blend all ingredients until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and chill in fridge for 2+ hours.
- Place in an ice cream freezer and process according to directions.