Make Real Food

On a Journey to Love Myself and (the food in) the World Around Me.

Vanilla (Birthday) Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting [Vegan/Gluten Free]

by Chelsea @ Make Real Food on January 21, 2014, 4 comments


My family and I celebrated on Saturday night because 1 – everyone was then able to come! and 2 – I was getting a CAMERA for my birthday, and knew I’d want to spend some time playing with it on Sunday! We had a great dinner and awesome family time.  On Sunday Nathan and I enjoyed waffles, and then ventured out in the [very cold] to take some pictures.  It was a perfect weekend, and the perfect end to a not-totally-awesome week.  Birthdays, and family and husband time make everything better 🙂 Oh, and pictures. ((you can click on the pictures to see them larger))

One thing I knew I wanted for my Birthday was a yummy cake or, cupcakes.  I wanted to create a recipe that would hold up to a nice, thick butter cream frosting…oh, and I needed a butter cream frosting.  I can’t say I had total confidence in these cupcakes as I made them.  Even after they came out of the oven they seemed…suspicious.  I left them on the cooling rack downstairs, and came up to decide how to make them better next time.  A few minutes later Nathan came up eating one, and raving about how good they were.  Turns out, these cupcakes need to cool completely before they are delicious.  And once they do cool, they are, in fact, awesome.

Vanilla (Birthday) Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting [Vegan/Gluten Free]

This recipe uses my gluten free flour blend, which contains xantham gum.  You could [probably] substitute another blend, but if it does not have xantham gum, you will need to add one teaspoon.  Xantham gum helps the cake bind together. 

Am I the only person who needs 1.5 cups of gluten free flour blend, but only has about 1 and 1/4 cup made every single time?

An ingredient that really shines in this recipe is the coconut milk – it gives the cupcakes a rich flavor, while maintaining moisture.

Vanilla (Birthday) Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting [Vegan/Gluten Free]

The batter will be very thick.  Don’t be scared. I was!

Vanilla (Birthday) Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting [Vegan/Gluten Free]

When the cupcakes are done, you want to put them on a cooling rack, immediately.  If you used silicon cupcake holders, like I did, as soon as the cupcakes are cool enough to handle, you’re going to want to remove the silicon holders.  They seemed to be ‘steaming’ my cupcakes as they cooled.  My cupcakes were very moist feeling when I removed the cupcake holders, but they firmed up as they cooled.  You’re going to want to cool them completely before trying to eat or ice them.

Vanilla (Birthday) Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting [Vegan/Gluten Free]

The icing I whipped up for these cupcakes is a butter cream icing made with powdered coconut sugar.  It is incredibly sweet and has a lovely caramel flavor (from the coconut sugar).  Nathan said it reminded him of caramel chew candies.  You’re going to want to refrigerate the icing after you make it, and you’re going to want to refrigerate the cupcakes after they are iced, because the icing melts at room temperature.

Vanilla (Birthday) Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting [Vegan/Gluten Free]

I have a confession.  I oftentimes take pictures in the floor, because it makes for cleaner backgrounds.  It does, however, attract a curious cat.  Don’t worry, we didn’t eat this one.  Because yes, he did lick it.  


Nathan to the rescue…

Poor buddy went up to sulk when his cupcake was stolen from him.  We figured it wouldn’t be good for his diabetes.

But back to reality.  Cupcakes?  You ready?Vanilla (Birthday) Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting [Vegan/Gluten Free]

Vanilla (Birthday) Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting [Vegan/Gluten Free]
Serves: 12 cupckes
  • For the Cupcakes:
  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water)
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk (from a can)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 + ½ cups gluten free flour blend (see note in blog post regarding substitutes)
  • ½ tablespoon + ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cups maple syrup
  • ¼ cups earth balance (or other butter substitute) - softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • __________
  • For the Icing:
  • ½ cup softened earth balance (or other butter substitute), softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 + ½ cups powdered coconut sugar
  • Non - Dairy milk as needed for consistency (I used one small splash)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare 12 muffin tins
  2. Combine flax egg and set aside
  3. Combine coconut milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside
  4. In a medium sized bowl combine the gluten free flour blend, baking powder and baking soda and set aside
  5. In a mixer bowl mix maple syrup and earth balance until creamed
  6. Add in the vanilla and the flax egg to the mixer and mix to combine
  7. Add the coconut milk + apple cider vinegar and the dry mixture to the mixer, alternating, and mixing on low as you go
  8. Once completely mixed, mixture should a very thick
  9. Divide among 12 prepared cupcake holders
  10. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a knife through the middle comes out clean
  11. Immediately place on a cooling rack. If using silicon cupcake liners, remove as soon as cupcakes are cool enough to touch
  12. Let cupcakes cool completely to room temperature before eating or icing
  13. While they are cooling we can make the icing:
  14. ____
  15. Icing:
  16. Combine all of the icing ingredients, except for the milk in the mixer (earth balance, vanilla, powdered coconut sugar).
  17. Start the mixer on low, and increase speed as contents come together, stop and scrape the sides if necessary.
  18. Add milk, a splash at a time, to create a thick consistency
  19. Place icing in the fridge until ready to ice.
  20. Once cold, icing will be very thick, and resemble butter cream consistency.


Vanilla (Birthday) Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting [Vegan/Gluten Free]

I included this recipe in Ricki Heller’s recipe roundup.  Click Here to see other awesome recipes!

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4 thoughts on “Vanilla (Birthday) Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting [Vegan/Gluten Free]

  1. I appreciate your making healthier cupcakes, I just wish I could find an icing recipe that didn’t use butter or earth balance (read the ingredients of earth balance it’s not ‘real food’ at all, I would almost rather use butter) 🙁

    • Hi Christine!
      Thank you for stopping by! I agree that earth balance isn’t the healthiest thing in the world – but we do eat it from time to time – cake isn’t an everyday item in our house! Real butter is much more natural, but we have a dairy intolerance so it isn’t an option for us! You may be able to make this icing with another fat – such as coconut oil. I’ve never tried it though. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you do!

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