Introduction: Summer Cupcakes (Vegan, GF, and Healthy!)

About: Inspired by my cat Chili, who is full of fun and energy, I like to share about food and other home crafts with a new twist of 'chili'-fun. (This user was previously called Snowball10)

I had just watched several episodes of "Bagdysten" (the great baking contest) on TV, and my inner creativity had been awakened. . . .

I was home alone for two weeks, which meant more experiments in the kitchen, because if something went wrong, nobody else would suffer from it. . . .

The garden was overflowing with fresh berries and other summer goodies, screaming to be used for something beautiful. . . .

Basically, I just had to make cupcakes! So I decided to make these for when my grandma came home. She was WOWED!

I even had the honor of making another batch for some special guests, and the second time, I streamlined the process of decorating a bit. However, I will share pictures from both times (the first platter above is from the first time; the second is from the second time).

I think this is my first time making cupcakes all by myself, but I am extremely satisfied with the decoration!

Step 1: Ingredients You Will Need...

Note: This list can be confusing, so for your convenience, I will state the ingredients and amounts again in the instructions.

Makes 12 cupcakes with 4 different flavors

100 g. oats
100 g. corn starch
2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla sugar or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
100 g. raw sugar (also called turbinado sugar or sugar in the raw)
1 dl. coconut milk
2 dl. grated zucchini, including juice

1 Tbsp. cocoa powder (without sugar)
1 Tbsp. raw sugar
1/2 Tbsp. water

100 g. margarine or vegan buttery spread or coconut oil
300 g. powdered sugar
coconut milk or other vegan milk

some vanilla sugar or a splash of vanilla extract
3 to 4 tsp. cocoa powder
1 to 2 Tbsp. strawberry or raspberry preserves

Caramel (makes much more than needed: 500 g.):
200 g. roasted cashews or almond slivers
200 g. powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla sugar or 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
about 1 dl. vegan milk, or as needed

Fresh berries, cherries, edible flowers, etc.
(I used raspberries, strawberries, cherries, black currants, and white roses.)

Chopped dark chocolate and chopped salted peanuts

Step 2: Items You Will Need:

Measuring cups and spoons
Food processor
Sharp knife
Vegetable peeler (optional)
Mixing bowl
12 cupcake liners
Cupcake pan or baking sheet
Toothpick or sharp knife (optional)
Handmixer (optional)
Decorating tip(s)
Piping bag, or plastic bag + tape

Step 3: Cupcakes: Dry Ingredients

Blend 100 g. oats, 100 g. corn starch, 2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt to a fine powder in a food processor.

Step 4: Cupcakes: Wet Ingredients

Wash the zucchini (this one is from the garden -- that is why it is so big!). Cut off a piece, peel it (not necessary if you do not care about green spots in the cupcakes), and grate it till you have 2 dl. grated zucchini.

Whisk together grated zucchini (including juice), 1 Tbsp. vanilla sugar or 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 100 g. raw sugar (also called turbinado sugar or sugar in the raw), and 1 dl. coconut milk in a mixing bowl.

Step 5: Cupcakes: Batter

Add the dry ingredients from the food processor to the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl and whisk together. The batter should be thick enough for a spoon to leave a mark when dragged through it.

Immediately, spoon half of the batter into 6 cupcake liners inserted into a cupcake pan or placed on a baking sheet.

Add 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder (without sugar), 1 Tbsp. raw sugar, and 1/2 Tbsp. water to the remaining batter. Spoon into 6 cupcake liners.

Step 6: Cupcakes: Bake

Immediately bake the cupcakes at 200 degrees Celsius for 15 min., or until a toothpick or sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (Note: The time is for a convection oven. In an ordinary oven, the cupcakes will need to bake longer, so use the toothpick test, but beware of overbaking!)

Let the cupcakes cool while making the frosting.

Step 7: Frosting: Vanilla, Chocolate, and Fruit

For the frosting, we will need a total of 100 g. margarine or buttery spread or coconut oil, 300 g. powdered sugar, and some coconut milk or other vegan milk.

When I made the frosting, I made the error of making one big batch which I then divided into smaller batches. But that resulted in too much liquid being added to the fruit frosting, so I had to add more sugar, and that resulted in a lot of fruit frosting. So here, we will make a separate batch for the fruit frosting.

Mix 66 g. margarine and 200 g. of powdered sugar with a hand mixer (or whisk or fork). Add some vanilla sugar or a splash of vanilla extract and then add milk as needed to achieve a soft consistency that holds its shape. If too much liquid is accidentally added, add some more powdered sugar.

Prepare a piping bag by using a "real" piping bag or a plastic bag as I did. If using a plastic bag, cut off the corner, insert the decorating tip from the inside, and secure with tape.

Add half of the vanilla frosting mixture to the piping bag. Add 3 to 4 tsp. cocoa powder to the remaining frosting and some extra sugar if desired. Adjust consistency with milk. Set the chocolate frosting aside.

To make the fruit frosting, mix the remaining 33 g. margarine and 100 g. sugar, but instead of adding milk, add the fruit by passing 1 to 2 Tbsp. strawberry or raspberry preserves through a small strainer, using a spoon. The clear "preserves" is added to the frosting and the fibres are discarded. Jelly can be used instead of preserves, and then the straining process is unnecessary. Add fruit until the frosting has a nice color, and then add sugar or milk to adjust the consistency. (Beware of adding too much fruit, which will make the frosting thin, and a lot of extra sugar will be needed to make up for that!) Set the fruit frosting aside.

Note: You will probably notice a different fruit frosting in the picture of the first platter. I was experimenting, but the recipe became too complicated, so that is why I am only sharing this more successful fruit frosting from the second time.

Step 8: Frosting: Caramel

Blend 200 g. roasted cashews or almond slivers to butter in a food processor. Alternatively, use almond or peanut butter.

Add 200 g. powdered sugar, and 2 tsp. vanilla sugar or 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract. Adjust the consistency with about 1 dl. vegan milk.

This makes more caramel than will be needed for the cupcakes, but it keeps for a very long time in the fridge and can be used for other desserts too.

Note: This caramel is good, but I know of other, healthier caramels that are just as good that I would probably use next time.

For example the peanut caramel from my Healthy Frozen Snickers Bars:
3 Tbsp. smooth peanut butter and 2 Tbsp. liquid honey (or firm honey + 2 tsp. water, or agave) mixed together with a spoon. Simple and healthy, right?

Or this one:
2 dl. dried dates
2 dl. raw cashews or roasted almond slivers
1 dl. strawberry or raspberry compote/preserves, or apple sauce
1 pinch salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla sugar or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Soak the dates in hot water for five minutes. Grind the nuts in a food processor. Then, drain the dates and add together with the remaining ingredients and blend till smooth.

Step 9: Cupcakes + Frosting + Garnish

Now we have the cupcakes and the frosting, and it is time to combine these two with the addition of garnish.

These are the combinations I used:

- Three chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting. Sprinkle with chopped dark chocolate and top with a cherry / top with black currants.

- Three vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and top with strawberries / top with white roses.

- Three vanilla cupcakes with fruit frosting. Top with black currants or raspberries.

- Three chocolate cupcakes with caramel. Sprinkle with chopped dark chocolate and chopped salted peanuts.

The caramel I just spread on the cupcakes with a knife, but the other three frostings I applied with a decorating tip. Since my tip was so small, I first applied a foundation layer by making a spiral from the center of the cupcake and out. Then I used one of three decorating techniques as follows:

1. I applied another even spiral on top.

2. I made tiny rosettes all over the top by holding the piping bag perpendicular to the cupcake close to the frosting and pressing firmly, then releasing the pressure and lifting.

3. I made a spiral of shells. Shells are made by holding the piping bag at an angle to the cupcake and pressing out a rosette just like above but then releasing the pressure and pulling down instead of up. Another "shell is started where the previous one ended. I just continued these shells in a circular pattern from the edges toward the center.

For details about these and other piping techniques, a simple google search will bring up explanatory pictures.

Step 10: Enjoy!

The cupcakes are best enjoyed the same day. Leftovers can be store overnight at room temperature or refrigerated for a few days tightly covered to prevent drying out. Refrigerated cupcakes should be brought to room temperature before they are served.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable and that there are some brave souls out there who would like to try this even if it looks complicated. If you do, please don't forget to post pictures!

But even if you don't make this, would you mind giving me a vote in the summer food and drink contest? Thanks a lot!

(Also check out the next slide to see what I made with the first-first batch that didn't turn out good, so that I still could serve it alongside the good cupcakes!)

Step 11: The First Batch...

The first-first batch turned out dry, and I had to revise the recipe and make another batch that I could serve for my grandma. But what did I make with the first batch that did not turn out good?

Of course I made cake truffles! These are great to make if you ever bake a cake that turns out dry or heavy. So remember this, because you will probably need it sometime!

What I did was the following:

I crumbled all the 12 cupcakes, 6 vanilla and 6 chocolate, into a bowl, and then I added some strawberry preserves, some extra cocoa because half of the cupcakes were vanilla, a little extra sugar and oil, and some vanilla and koriander for flavor. When I was happy with the flavor, I added some apple juice to moisten the dough enough to be shaped into balls. However, I added too much juice, so I had to add some crushed crackers/cookies too.

I mashed everything thoroughly with a fork, and then I shaped the dough into huge balls and rolled them in chopped walnuts.

I measured everything I used and then reduced the recipe, so that you can easily use it with whatever amount of cake you have. Just multiply the recipe until the weigh of the cake crumbs is the same as the weight of the cake you have!

The cake truffles keep well in the refrigerator, but they can also be frozen for later use.

50 g. dry or heavy cake
1 tsp. cocoa powder (if the cake is NOT chocolate)
1 Tbsp. strawberry preserves or compote
2 tsp. sugar or as needed
1/2 tsp. vanilla sugar or a splash of vanilla extract
1 small dash ground coriander
1/2 tsp. oil, optional, for texture
applejuice and crushed crackers/cookies, to adjust consistency

chopped nuts, desiccated coconut, cocoa powder, raw sugar, or sprinkles, for rolling

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