Monday, August 31, 2009

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Muffins

I remember back in the day when I thought I could eat wheat I would go to Mimi's Restaurant and eat all of the moist and yummy carrot cake they brought out with the bread plate for an appetizer. It is such a great combination of flavors; the walnuts, the raisins, the carrots, the spices. Then the tables turned and I thought sweet, moist carrot cake and I would never meet again. One day (years later, I must admit), I thought, I'm smarter than that! I can make my own gluten free version of that bread. It proved to be easier than I thought. First I turned to trusty Google Search and found several versions of the Mimi's recipe. (Mimi's, if you don't want your stuff copied, don't let the recipe get out on the web. I'm just saying. But I'm glad it was there.)

Gluten free baking is so tricky. You have to use several flours to replace wheat flour,because each flour has only one or two of the components of regular flour. Measurements and ratios can be hard on the middle-aged mom's brain, so I like to take the easy way out and use a mix whenever possible. That doesn't mean, however, that you have to just use the mix as is. I always feel free to jazz it up a bit and add whatever flavors or textures I like to my sweet baked goods. This dish was no exception. I used the Namaste Spice Cake Mix and then added some of Mimi's secret ingredients like crushed pineapple and walnuts. I used applesauce instead of oil to cut down on the fat intake. I added shredded zucchini and coconut because I wanted more veggie power. And what I came up with was a muffin that my five-year-old has eaten more of than I have.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Muffins with Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting
based on Mimi's Restaurant recipe, tweaked and made gluten free by Margo Andersen

3 eggs
1 cup applesauce
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup molasses (optional)
1 Namaste spice cake mix
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup crushed pineapple

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. In a stand mixer, beat eggs, applesauce, water, and molasses, if desired, until combined. Add cake mix, blend. Stop mixer and add carrots, coconut, zucchini, raisins, walnuts, and pineapple. Mix until just blended, not too long or the goodies will sink to the bottom. Batter is runny, so use a 1/4 measuring cup to fill muffin tins. If goodies start to fall to the bottom while you are fillng muffin tins, simply stir the batter for a second to re-incorporate. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 24 muffins with enough left over for one mini loaf pan. Cook loaf for 40-45 minutes at 350. Cool on a wire rack until completely cool. Frost with frosting if using as a dessert. If not, use for a breakfast muffin. Freezes well.

Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting

1 pkg cream cheese
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Beat together softened cream cheese and sugar, adding one cup at a time until desired consistency. Place in a large ziploc bag and cut the end off one of the tips to make a pastry bag. Frost carrot cake muffins this way so the moist crumbs do not get into the frosting.

Happy eating!

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