This is the recipe I’ve taken the most creative license with so far, most notably my decision to omit the gluten.
Let me explain.
My mom had my oldest two nephews over the weekend and though they’re only tweens, they both love to be in the kitchen. One tradition my mom has when they’re over is to do a cook-off. Usually they both make a small meal and then compare (both are always winners, of course). This time, after perusing my recipe book that I brought with me to finish the meringues, the younger of the two decided he wanted to do dessert.
He picked the recipe, his brother chose his dinner, we made grocery lists and got to work.
Now, as mentioned, my mother’s cupboards are stocked with everything you’d ever need. And as a gluten-free person, she has an array of gluten-free flours. Instead of making something in her home that she can’t eat, we decided to adjust the recipe for her benefit.
He had a whole plan, and cupcakes were only part of it. He wouldn’t let me in on his grand idea, but one ingredient we did have to pick up was maraschino cherries. Again, his plan was a secret.
So that’s how this recipe was chosen, and that’s how it became gluten- and dairy-free.
First we had to weigh things. This was his first time using a scale to bake, so I got to teach him how to use the grams option, how to reset to zero, and how to add ingredients slowly so you don’t go over.
For the record, he’s as precise as I am when it comes to measuring out exactly what Mary and Paul tell us to.
I also taught him the value of a little less sugar.
Not every recipe needs the full amount of sugar, and once you start cutting it down, you really don’t notice and you presumably live longer.
After getting all of the dry ingredients together, Mary and Paul told us to use the food processor to mix it until thoroughly combined. And since a food processor is kind of fun for a tween to use, this was very thoroughly combined.
Next was to combine all of the wet ingredients into a measuring cup: oil, (almond) milk, egg. The result of which looked similar to some kind of science experiment he’d do at school. He called his brother over to look at the reaction of oil and milk.
Fairly disgusting, no? But also quite interesting. I wish I had a science background to turn this into an educational moment, but alas my arts degree is of no help.
After mixing it well with a fork, and making sure the yolk of the egg was broken, he had the food processor running while I slowly added the wet mixture to the dry mixture.
The result? Gooey, cupcakey goodness.
He prepped everything by spraying the cupcake tin and adding the liners. And then all we had to do was get the goopy goodness into the paper cups.
Easy peasy right? Wrong. His mom apparently has a great tool for doing this cleanly and neatly. I, however, do not. Nor does my mother. So I got the chance to show him what the “old school” option was: two spoons.
He’d never done that technique before, so he opted to watch me, expert Auntie, do it instead.
I wish I could say I made no mess and was flawless, but the first cupcake liner I tried to fill turned sideways and I had to coax it into the right position before it gooped into the tin. That was successful at least. And the drama of avoiding a goopy mess was at least entertaining to both nephews.
Mary and Paul only wanted the liners to be filled halfway, but in order to accommodate the “makes twelve” instruction, I had to fill them a little more than halfway.
We had to wait for his brother to finish baking steak and potatoes before putting these in the oven, and then we had to wait for them to cool as we ate a delicious entrée before we could ice them. (Even though he didn’t need them iced, I still had to complete the recipe.)
But before I continue with his genius dessert idea, let me first explain his brother’s idea for dinner: thin steaks and baked potatoes, but not just any baked potatoes. Baked potatoes that are then scooped out, mixed with sour cream and bacon, topped with cheese and garnished with green onions. It was truly delicious.
For dessert, my younger nephew took the lead after I cut four cupcakes in half. In four different wine glasses, he scooped out a layer of ice cream, a half of cupcake, a touch of maraschino cherry sauce, another layer of ice cream, another cupcake, another layer of ice cream, more cherry sauce and then each was topped with a maraschino cherry. It was so good.
Both dinner and dessert were consumed in record time. The only downside of the dessert was that it’s impossible to lick the inside of a wine glass.
As they got ready for bed, I quickly whipped up half the amount of icing.
First up, cocoa and icing sugar:
Then butter melted with coffee and sugar:
(Sorry, didn’t realize this was so blurry.)
Then you bring the butter mixture to a boil and add it to the dry ingredients, mix quickly and wait for it to cool.
Eventually it cooled:
And eight slightly deflated cupcakes were topped with icing and Dutch chocolate sprinkles (a.k.a. hagelslag)and one was cut in four for the four of us to consume as an extra dessert. Leaving seven to bring to work:
Except I started to realize two things. One, gluten-free cupcakes are a waste on people who don’t need gluten-free options. Two, only seven cupcakes will create a frenzy in my office.
So I made a selfless choice and decided to leave the chocolatey cupcakes with my mom so she could freeze them for herself as an occasional treat. And if she happens to take one or two out for me when I come over, I won’t complain.
P.S. They were really, really good. They were quite dense, although that was probably the gluten-free flour. Next time I’ll remember to sift it a few times first. And using coffee in the chocolate icing was a revelation. It’s my new favourite icing recipe.
Also having such skilled nephews makes for a treat of an evening. It’s not often someone else cooks for me, and I rarely make such complicated meals for myself. If you’re reading this, nephews, THANK YOU!