I'm Just Like You...

It was about two and a half years ago that I became a Vegan. It took some time to navigate through a series of bland/crappy/unsatisfying recipes before I got my groove, but before long I was learning to cook up a proverbial vegan storm!  Ever since, I've quite enjoyed the challenge of making traditional dishes the vegan way...in particular baked goods!  I admit I was skeptical.  I'm sorry, how the hell am I supposed to make, for example, a fu*&$%^! pie crust without butter or worse, lard?  Or simple chocolate chip cookies without eggs?  But if that adorable chick Erin McKenna (mastermind of the ever successful vegan/gluten free bakery Babycakes) can do it, then I can too?

There was a birthday coming up and the host asked if I wouldn't mind taking care of the vegan and gluten free desserts.  Yesssssss.  I smell a challenge.  Naturally, because I’m competitive, I decided not only will I make both a vegan and a gluten free option, but they will be one.  They will be the best vegan/gluten free dessert ever?  Yikes.  I was worried.

Something you should know about me.  I'm kind of a know it all.  So when I get on a kick (for example a vegan kick) I make sure to let everyone know that being a vegan is the best thing ever, and if you're not a vegan then you're not as evolved as I am ; )  So imagine my fear of showing up to this birthday party with vegan/gluten free cupcakes that might as well be little turd balls.  How will this taste good?  What if the consistency isn't cupcake-y?  What if they taste, blech, healthy?!  I want these to be the best damn cupcakes of all time! It was a tall order.  But I was determined.

After scouring the internet I decided to go with a recipe for Frosted Orange Creme Cupcakes (gluten free and vegan of course) from:

"The Gluten Free Goddess” website

I figured if it doesn't go well I could blame it on the orange creme - cause let's be honest there's a way to say orange creme that makes your cupcake sound totally amazing or really shady.  "OrAngE crEEEEme.  Ew.  Well it's no wonder."  Okay, I thought, this seems safe.

So off to Whole Foods I went - grocery list in hand.  This is gonna be easy:
sorghum flour
potato starch (not potato flour!)
organic vegan cane sugar
sea salt
baking powder
baking soda
xanthan gum***
fresh orange zest
light olive oil or vegetable oil
raw organic agave
fresh squeezed orange juice at room temperature
Ener-G Egg Replacer
bourbon vanilla

ERRR?!?!?!  Wait what the shit is Sorghum flour*?  And why is Xanthan gum $12?  Oh of course, I only need like, 1/8 of a teaspoon of it too, and you're making me buy this whole huge ass bag of it.  What are you anyway, xanthan** gum, and what do you do that you cost 12 effin dollars?!

*sorghum flour is a powerhouse of nutrition and adds a superb flavor to gluten-free baking. It is high in protein, iron, and dietary fiber

**xanthan gum is used as a thickening agent, or as a stabilizer to prevent separation of ingredients

Grumbling and muttering profanities to myself (thank you Phil Wolfe) I continued to peruse the baking aisle.  Greeeeaaaat.  What. Next.  Oh!  Ener-G Egg Replacer.  Of course.  Can't use eggs, so I'll need egg replacer – seems reasonable.  Ooooh this ones cheaaaap.  Only $5.99.  SCORE! (For those who don't know me, note sarcasm).

Vegan cane sugar?  Hmph.  Now wait a minute, why isn't regular sugar vega- wait!  I don't want to know.

Now I'm starting to get grumpy.  This vegan baking game isn't funny anymore.  This shit is expensive.

I'm about to check out when suddenly I realized I had forgotten the fresh squeezed orange juice -- the crux of the crop!

I raced back to the juice aisle and whaddya know?  Fresh squeezed orange juice is like 5 X MORE EXPENSIVE THAN ALL THOSE OTHER PERFECTLY GOOD MINUTE MAID JUICES.  (Side note: Minute Maid juice is not good).  Ugh fine.  Fresh squeezed it is.

Back in line.  Okay, this won't be too bad.  It's definitely more than I wanted to spend.  More than the $5 it would have cost me to make that delicious shit from a box that we all grew up to know and love.  Thank you Mr. Hines, no offense, you make a damn fine cupcake, but all these documentaries I've been watching say you're bad for...me...the world.  But it can't be more than, like, $20.  If I'm high balling.

DING.  That'll be $53.22

Excuse me?  How is that even possible?!

Damn you Xanthan gum.

I handed her my card and asked her rather grumpily to just be quick about it.

When I arrived home I was feeling pretty defeated, until, of course, I put on my super cute apron and logged into the 80s pop radio station on Spotify.  Suddenly I was feeling rather excited again.

Turns out the baking of the cupcakes is the easy part.  JUST FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS EXACTLY.  Don't get cocky with vegan ingredients, man.  There's little room for play here, guys.  In the end you're lucky if they taste like cupcakes at ALL, let alone stay in one piece.

After not too long, they were ready to be baked.  I can't believe how easy that was.  "Don't hold your breath," said my defeatist little devil self.  Let's wait for the taste test.

In the oven they went.  It was a long 20 minutes... crouched by the oven as I literally watched them bake.  After all, I couldn't afford any mistakes.  It's not like my waitressing job can afford me a round two of that last whole foods trip, although hooray!  I don't have to buy another bag of xanthan gum because I still have that ridiculously oversized bag of it I never thought I'd use again from the first trip.

After they baked I let them cool.  Hmm...you look a little small vegan/gluten free cupcake.  But you smell divine.

The icing was easy.  Basically you pour and you mix.  After the cupcakes finished cooling, I put the icing on and let them "sit," if you will.  I dunno.  It seemed like they needed to sit.

After about an hour, I decided to try one.

WOWZA!  Vegan/Gluten free orange creme cupcake, you are SENSATIONAL!  What a pleasant surprise.  I felt like Miss America, yo.

I put them in my brand new cupcake carrier from Michael's (So? I'm a bit of a show off), and went to bed excited and proud of my contribution for the party.

A Little Education:

*sorghum flour is a powerhouse of nutrition and adds a superb flavor to gluten-free baking. It is high in protein, iron, and dietary fiber

**xanthan gum is used as a thickening agent, or as a stabilizer to prevent separation of ingredients

***Guar gum is an excellent and way cheaper alternative to Xanthan gum and works just fine as a substitute.

***Vegan/Gluten free baking does not have to be expensive! The first time buying vegan/gluten free pantry items is always going to be pricier because you are not yet equipped to cook this way. But don’t be fooled – most of these ingredients will last you a nice long time!