For anyone who follows a gluten-free diet, or just wants to reduce the amount of gluten in their diet there are so many options these days in the supermarkets for gluten-free treats. A lot of things that would naturally not contain any gluten are now marketed as gluten-free so their taste and texture will, unsurprisingly, be entirely unaffected by the fact that they are gluten-free. However anything normally containing wheat flour will need an alternative to mimic not just the taste of wheat but also the properties of gluten. Gluten creates structure and strength and gluten-free alternatives are not necessarily a ‘healthy’ option. They are often as processed and artificial as the standard variety, and may even be worse: a lot of gluten-free shop-bought baked goods will depend on chemicals and cheap flour alternatives to replace wheat and the properties of gluten. A very quick search on an online grocery delivery site for gluten-free chocolate cupcakes produced a pack with all these typical ingredients:
Icing Sugar, Free Range Egg, Margarine: Palm Kernel Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Palm Oil, Water, Emulsifier: Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Vegetable Oil: Rapeseed Oil, Sunflower Oil, Rice Flour, Sugar, Caster Sugar, Cocoa Powder, Humectant: Vegetable Glycerol, Potato Starch, Invert Sugar Syrup, Stabilisers: Hydroxypropyl Methyl Cellulose, Carboxymethyl Cellulose, Xanthan Gum, Raising Agents: Disodium Diphosphate, Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate, Emulsifiers: Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids, Sodium Stearoyl-2-Lactylate, Salt, Maize Starch, Preservative: Potassium Sorbate
And they generally taste as good as you might expect given the ingredients list. So make them instead: as well as tasting great these chocolate chip muffins are quick and easy to put together and contain much healthier ingredients. I’ve used ground almonds, buckwheat flour and cocoa instead of wheat flour, and mild olive oil instead of margarine or butter. They are easily made dairy-free: just use a non-dairy alternative to milk. I’ve used brown sugar but you could easily substitute it for coconut sugar too. The xanthan gum is optional so don’t worry if you don’t have any but just bear in mind they may be a little crumbly without it.
165 g ground almonds
75g buckwheat flour
60g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
100g mild olive oil
125g milk or non dairy alternative
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g soft brown sugar
100g dark chocolate chips
Set the oven to 180°C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
Combine the ground almonds, buckwheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and xanthan gum in a bowl.
Beat the oil, milk, egg, vanilla extract and soft brown sugar together until smooth and well mixed.
Add the dry ingredients and mix gently until they are well combined.
Add the chocolate chips and make sure they are evenly distributed.
Put an ice cream scoop or large spoonful of mixture into each cupcake case, making sure they all contain roughly the same amount.
Gently level the mixture.
Bake for around 20 minutes, until the muffins are well risen, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then remove and leave on a wire rack to cool completely.
They will keep for several days in an airtight tin, or you can freeze them.