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My oldest daughter called from California a few weeks ago and told me, “Mom, I just made the BEST coconut cupcakes! You have to try them. I’m sure you can figure out how to convert them to gluten-free.” She emailed the recipe to me and of course, Queen of procrastination that I am, I put off printing it out. I read the recipe and told myself as soon as I have a minute, I’ll print it out. Over the past two weeks, I’ve read the recipe five or six times but, of course, just couldn’t find the time to print it out.

The recipe calls for two 13-oz cans of coconut milk.. I didn’t have any coconut milk on hand, so of course I couldn’t make the cupcakes. There was no point in printing out the recipe if I didn’t have all the ingredients. I’d print it as soon as I bought coconut milk.  This past week I decided that I really needed to make these cupcakes, so I picked the coconut milk up at the local grocery store These cupcakes had been in the back of my mind for over two weeks. My daughter had called twice to ask me how they were and I had to tell her I was still procrastinating. I had the coconut milk, but realized I didn’t have any GF vanilla. I would need to go to the store to buy vanilla – as soon as I had time. Two days ago, I stopped to buy vanilla on my way home from work. Ok, now I had the coconut milk and the vanilla. I needed to bake the cupcakes!

I decided, last night, I had procrastinated long enough. I needed to bake these cupcakes. I printed out the recipe and read the ingredients to determine what I needed to do to convert them to gluten-free. The recipe called for 2 cups all purpose flour. I’ve discovered, through much trial and error, that I can replace 1 cup of all purpose (wheat) flour with 1/2 cup rice flour (white or brown), 1/4 cup tapioca flour and 1/4 cup corn starch. That replaces the flour, but does not replace the gluten that holds it all together. What I’m baking determines the amount of xanthan gum I need to use. If I’m baking cookies, I generally use 1/2 tsp per cup of “flour”. Cakes and cupcakes use a little more and bread uses the most. I generally start with 1/2 tsp and add 1/2 tsp at a time until it just looks like the right consistency. If I measure 1/2 tsp at a time, I know exactly how much to write down on my recipe for the next time.

I was finally at the point where I could mix up the cupcake batter! By the time I had takent them out of the oven and cooled one just long enough to try one . . . . . . .  I was sorry I had procrastinated so long! They were wonderful! Soft, moist, springy – with just a slight coconut flavor. The recipe calls for 2 cans of coconut milk – this is added to the cupcake batter and the frosting, and then they’re topped with shredded coconut. I was sure the coconut would be overpowering! Surprisingly, it’s not. I’m not a huge coconut fan, but these cupcakes are great! You really need to try them!

Divine GF Coconut Cupcakes (makes 18 cupcakes)

Cupcakes:

2  13 – 14 oz cans unsweetened coconut milk

1 cup rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup corn starch

2-1/2  tsp baking powder

3/4 cup margarine (or butter)

1-1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp GF vanilla

1-1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1 cup reduced coconut milk (see below)

Reduced coconut milk:

Pour both cans of coconut milk into deep saucepan. Coconut milk should only fill the pan half way. Heat coconut milk on medium high heat until it boils. (Coconut milk will boil up high in pan, which is why you need a deep saucepan.) Reduce heat to low and gently boil until it is reduced to 1 – 1/2 cups – about 25 – 35 minutes. Stir occassionaly so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. Once reduced, the coconut milk with be thick and creamy. Place in refrigerator and cool completely. (You can reduce the coconut milk days ahead and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake.)

Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, combine margarine (or butter) and granulated sugar. Beat on high until smooth and light yellow. Add eggs and beat on high until well blended, about 2 minutes. Turn off mixer, scrape down sides and add rice flour and tapioca flour. Mix on low until well blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk (reserve remaining 1/2 cup for frosting) and vanilla and mix on low until blended. Add cornstarch, baking poweder and baking soda and mix until blended.

Line muffin cups with paper cupcake liners. Fill each until 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes until slightly brown. Top should spring back when pressed lightly. Remove from pans and cool completely before frosting. (Warm cupcakes will melt your frosting.)

Frosting:

1 cup margarine (or butter)

2-1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup reduced coconut milk

1/2 tsp GF vanilla

In large mixing bowl, beat margarine until soft and smooth. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Scrape sides of bowl and add 1 additional cup of powdered sugar. Mix until blended. Add reduced coconut milk and vanilla and mix until well blended. Scrape sides of bowl and add remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Mix until blended. Frost cupcakes with 2 tsp frosting for each cupcake. Sprinkle top of cupcake with sweetened flaked coconut. (If frosting is too thin add a little more powdered sugar or refrigerate before using. Frosting will become firmer if cold. If your kitchen is too hot, the frosting won’t set up well.)

Enjoy!

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