Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gluten-free Coconut Muffins/Cupcakes

These are somewhere between a muffin and cupcake, a bit sweeter than a muffin, but not as sweet or rich as a cupcake. I like cup-in over muff-cake but neither works well.

Anyway, I had planned to bake this weekend anyway but Corwyn sped the timing up a few days. He loves eggs and also likes to take them from the fridge to hand to me, even when I'm not ready. Last night, he picked up the egg carton and then while turning, tipped the remaining 1/2 dozen or so eggs out. Sigh. All of them were cracked, but luckily only one broke open and was past saving. So baking it was.

The recipe along with some variation options will be at the end. Some information and the process will precede it.

I was first turned onto using coconut flour by this book

It was here my love for using coconut flour began. I started to use it in more recipes and began to experiment. And I learnt some things along the way. It's a very dense flour. You need very little compared to the liquid ingredients. It likes eggs and works best in recipes with lots of egg. Let it cool (almost) completely before removing it from the pan. A little fills you up.  There are quite a few brands on the market. I use the one I can find. I haven't tried others but I'm sure they are all similar. It's a bit yellowish in color, not quite like either a white or a whole wheat flour. It has a slight coconut taste but not as much as you think.

As mentioned coconut flour is dense and likes eggs. I found that if you can whip the egg whites before mixing in the yokes and other wet ingredients then you'll get a lighter finished product. It's not necessary, but if you have the time and the tools, then go for it. As it would have it, based on how the eggs were cracked, I was only able to separate the whites from two of the six so I whipped those. Try to go until the peak stage for maximum froth. 

I use free range, grain fed eggs. It's a personal choice but I do know the yokes are much brighter in color and I like the taste more. (And it's that much more critical for money reasons to use the cracked-by-Corwyn ones vs throwing them out). The next picture is after adding the honey, oil and the rest of the eggs. You can see how nice and yellow it is. 

Oh, coconut oil. You don't have to use it but I recommend it. It is a saturated fat *gasp* but it's health benefits have been shown again and again as out weighing the fat. So unless you have explicit orders by the doctor not to, give it a try. It's kept at room temperature and is solid (it's summer so solid is probably a generous term). To melt it for ease of mixing, I measure mine and leave it in the cup on the element that gets hot while the oven is preheating. It's melted and ready when I need it, with no extra work.

This is after mixing in the coconut flour, baking soda and chocolate chips. It's still quite liquidy. But you need to leave it for another few minutes (maybe while you prepare the pan) and the flour will absorb some of the liquid making it almost mold-able before you put it in the muffin tins.

I've mentioned before that I love using ice cream scoops for muffins and cookies. It gives them a uniform size making them come out of the oven at the same done-ness. These are my current scoops. The biggest is a 1/4 cup and works great in a regular sized muffin tin. The next down I use for mini muffins and the smallest is for drop cookies. These are also great because the kids can help scoop and I can still hope for even baking sizes and slightly less mess.

And of course the finished product. I've also mentioned before about using parchment paper liners in the tins. I LOVE this and this picture should show you how that the claim to being no stick is true. 

These are not a diet muffin. They are made with coconut flour, coconut oil and eggs so there is fat in them. They are honey sweetened so have calories from that too. And, oh yeah, I made this version with chocolate chip (dairy free so Nathan can enjoy them). There is around 200 calories in each. But with 1/2 egg in each, there is also a fair bit of protein. Depending on how you feel about honey, if you eliminated the chips this is probably a paleo 'safe' food.

Basic Recipe
3/4 cup of coconut flour
1/2 to 1 tsp of baking powder (personal choice, can be omitted for a much denser result)
dash of salt (sea salt if you have it)
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup liquid sweetener (honey, agave, maple syrup)
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350
Lightly mix flour with baking powder and salt. Put aside.
Whip the egg whites until the peaks stay firm
Add the rest of the liquid ingredients and mix until fully combined
Stir in the flour + powder mix until well combined (you can keep using the electric mixer)
Add the chocolate chips and stir until just combined
Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes or so

While you do, line 12 regular or 24 mini muffin tins (I prefer to use parchment paper liners).
Divide the mixture into all the tins (remember my hint on the ice cream scoop if you have one).

Bake for around 22-27 minutes. Check at the lower number using a toothpick inserted into the center. It should come out clean. I left mine in 25 minutes and they were just starting to get dark at the edges but are not burnt so I'd say just right.

Remember to let them cool before you take them out of the pan. I know you want, you really want to to try them hot. They will smell great but if you do, you will think they are not cooked or turned out wrong (yes I've done this). Let them cool at least 30 minutes, longer if you can handle it. Then enjoy.

I recommend keeping these refrigerated or in the freezer. Mine have never lasted long so I can't say how long they will last.

As to variations, there are tons. I used the chips this time because it was last minute baking and I went for ready made, fast and easy. Switch out 1/4 of the coconut flour for raw cacao (or regular cocoa powder)  for double chocolate. Eliminate the chips all together for a basic muffin. Add in dried berries or even chopped fresh berries (since they are in season).  Change out the vanilla for orange or lemon oil and put in some grated rind for a refreshing taste. Cut the sweetener in half and put in a concentrated fruit juice. Use an egg replacer to make it vegan (I've done this using either flax seed and ener-g egg replacer with success). Add some fresh herbs (I'm thinking rosemary) for a more savory option (hmm, I'm thinking lemon rosemary for my next attempt). 

The possibilities are almost endless. Just don't change the liquid to flour ratio and use eggs or equivalent binder and you'll be fine.

No comments: