With the second anniversary of the Cucina Domenico blog coming up, it is no secret that networking has played a major part in gathering my blog followers and readers. From my co-blogging project with Una Mamma Italiana and earning a spot on Lorraine Ranalli’s Cucina Chatter radio broadcast, to forming Facebook friendships with Johnny “Meatballs” DeCarlo and many other food bloggers, I am very grateful for the opportunities that networking has brought.
This week I am very proud to introduce a new friend to the Cucina Domenico readers. Emma Caperelli Loerky is a South Philly native who I had the pleasure of becoming Facebook ‘friends’ with via this blog. I would often notice the fantastic recipes that Emma would post. Her recipes are always very creative and beautifully presented. They are also often gluten free. Being very impressed with her creativity and focus on gluten free recipes, I approached Emma about contributing some of her recipes to my blog, and am very happy that she has agreed to do so.
This week we are featuring Emma’s Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cupcakes…just in time for all your Halloween parties! You will have the opportunity to read more of Emma’s contributions in future Guest Recipe posts here at Cucina Domenico. You can also read more about Emma and her approach to gluten free cooking below.
Welcome to the Cucina, Emma!
I’d first like to thank Dominic for giving me the opportunity to contribute to his blog. I’m really excited and flattered and I hope to be able to bring you recipes that you find useful. My name is Emma, and, like Dominic, I was born and raised in South Philly. I also raised my son, Jake, there for the first 12 years of his life. In 2006, I moved to San Diego to marry my best friend, Karl.
Up until I met my husband, I had never thought I’d leave South Philly. I had also never heard of Celiac Disease, which is an autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged from eating gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats (I borrowed that definition from Google, people). Being Italian American and growing up in South Philly, where macaroni, meatballs, and sausage (aka Gravy) is the mandatory Sunday dinner, and the soft pretzel is a food group (seriously, as a child we were given soft pretzels in school along with milk at snack time), I was baffled.
Anyway, in the past 5 years, I’ve learned to read labels and I’m learning how to cook and bake for my husband. I should also mention that my husband cannot have milk products. Apparently, it’s quite common for people with Celiac Disease to become intolerant to dairy products as well. Fortunately, my husband can still have eggs and butter. So, needless to say, I’ve had quite a few mishaps and I’m not always successful, but I have come across a few recipes that I think are worthy of sharing. I should point out that not everything I make is gluten free. My son and I still eat gluten, and, quite often, I will make two versions of the same dish. Even though it can be time-consuming, doing that allows me to freeze any extra gluten free portions, and it also cuts down on cost since gluten free products can be quite expensive.
One last tidbit about myself, I am a mother and housewife who, besides cooking and baking and having 2 dogs and 2 cats of my own, also fosters cats and dogs. Once a week, my family and I volunteer at our local animal shelter as well. Aside from having dinner together as a family each night, volunteering has become a family ritual and we look forward to it every week.
These are the things that bring my family together and I’m excited to share some of our favorite recipes with you. Hopefully, you will enjoy them as well and share them with your own families.
GLUTEN FREE PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES
yields 24 cupcakes but can be halved to make 12
When Dominic first asked me to submit a recipe to his food blog, the first ingredient I thought about using was pumpkin. Of course since it’s fall, pumpkin is one of the more obvious choices. But it’s also Halloween, which happens to be my favorite time of year. That led me to think about candy and what I could come up with based on a popular candy bar. So, I thought it would be fun to make a chocolate peanut butter cupcake that would be similar to a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I found tons of recipes and I was able to come up with a gluten free version on my first try. I actually halved the recipe because I was sure that it would take at least two attempts, so I was pleasantly surprised when they came out perfect on the first try. I was so pleased that I couldn’t just stick to my initial plan of having a peanut butter cupcake with a chocolate icing. I knew I wanted to do something with fluff, so I made a fluff icing and used a peanut butter icing as a filling. Basically, they are a gluten free Fluffernutter cupcake. I used that same peanut butter icing to decorate my chocolate peanut butter cupcakes as well. Let me just add that I am aware that I am not going to win any prizes for my cupcake decorating skills, but I think they came out pretty cute considering that I have no clue what I’m doing. So, I have two different icings and a ganache to go with the gluten free peanut butter cupcake. I was tempted to fill some with raspberry jelly, but I didn’t want to get too carried away, especially since I also planned on making a non-gluten free version. But you best believe that I will be making these again, and when I do, there will be jelly involved!
I’d also like to point out that I used this gluten free flour with excellent results. It is my new favorite gluten free flour and I recently discovered that I can find it at my local Whole Foods. I’d also like to mention that I adapted my recipe from one that I found on allrecipes.com.
2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup peanut butter (not natural)
2 eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup milk (I used soy milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour Blend
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 pinch of salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat brown sugar, shortening, and peanut butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time until well blended, then add vanilla and applesauce and beat until combined. In another bowl, combine gluten free flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and xanthan gum. Stir dry ingredients into the wet ingredients alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Spoon into lined muffin cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The cupcakes are done when the tops spring back when touched.
8 oz chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk (I used soy milk)
Put all the ingredients into the bowl of a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, just place a bowl on top of a pan of simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bowl or you risk scorching the chocolate. Stir frequently until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before using.
Beat the butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and slowly add enough milk or cream until it reaches a good consistency (you may not need all of the milk).
Assembling the Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes:
After the cupcakes have cooled, dip the tops of them in the slightly cooled ganache and let them set in the fridge for about an hour. You can then make “webs” out of the peanut butter icing by drawing circles on top of the cupcake then dragging them outward using a toothpick. Or you can just pipe a dollop on top of the cupcake, or, better yet, you can fill the inside of each cupcake with the peanut butter icing, which is what I wished I would have done in the first place.
Beat butter until creamy. Add marshmallow fluff and slowly add sugar.
Assembling the cupcakes:
Using a cupcake plunger, remove a portion of the center of each cupcake. Pipe a small amount of the Peanut Butter Icing into the center of each cupcake. Pipe the tops of each cupcake with the Fluff Icing.
One last thing, those cute little bats you see are edible and I got them at etsy.com.