Vegan and Gluten-Free Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes With Vanilla Chai Frosting

As a child I was very sick.

Not constantly mind you. It wasn't a scarlet fever-Velveteen Rabbit kind of situation (Though I did have about a million stuffed animals ... none of them became real by crying while waiting to be incinerated though ... look it up). But it did happen quite a bit, and neither I, nor my parents, ever knew why.

When I was 17, I guess it became particularly bad.
After multiple hospital visits and tests, my doctor finally had the answer: celiac. For those that don't know, celiac is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine caused by ingesting gluten found in wheat and other such things (barley, rye etc) .... basically everything that makes up the foods I like to eat (pizza, pasta, bread, CUPCAKES).

** Okay, I need to pause for a second. I looked up Celiac disease on wikipedia (to come up with a more cohesive definition than "it makes your tummy hurt really really bad" [it's embarrassing that I don't know this]) and under their list of symptoms it says, and I kid you not, causes FAILURE TO THRIVE (but don't worry, this apparently only happens in children ... :I). Now this, to me, sounds not only terrifying ... well no, that pretty much sums it up; it sounds terrifying. But thanks to the handy dandy clickable links on wikipedia, I found out that it's more a case of poor physical growth, which is bad, don't get me wrong, but I'd say it's much more preferable to any of the other possible definitions I could come up with**

So anyway, here I was being told that my bready-food days were over, and, as you might imagine having gotten to know me a little bit, gluten-loving me did NOT react well. Seriously. If you told Shakespeare that he had to stop writing plays, he'd probably stab you in the eye with his quill (poetically, of course. Forsooth ...). If you told Beethoven that he had to stop composing music, he'd probably say "what? I can't hear you" but if you were to sign it to him, he'd probably be very unhappy ... or at the very least he'd ignore you. So stubbornly (as I do most things) I went the route of my fellow genius (that's right) good ol' Ludwig; I decided that I was going to ignore the diagnosis and continue on with my gluten devouring ways. After all, it's not like I suddenly had a new thing wrong with me; it was the same disease I'd had all my life, except now it had a name. So why not keep living the way I'd always been living?

Well former self, I will tell you why not (I'm sure, dear readers, being the spectacularly not-dim people that I know you all to be, you know exactly why this is a BAD IDEA. And yet I continue ...). No food, not even cupcakes (no really, I'm serious), is worth making yourself sick over. I am fortunate enough not to be diagnosed with a more severe case of celiac, so luckily when I do slip up (and trust me, I do), I don't always feel the repercussions (though I still have a big problem with bagels ...) but now that I'm much more educated about food and dietary restrictions, one of the main reasons I say it's not worth it is because there are so many ways to adapt your food so that it can satisfy not only your taste buds, but the rest of your body as well!

And that's what brings me to today's recipe, dear readers.

Now, I know that there are many many different kinds of dietary restrictions, but today I'm tackling two of the main ones that I have had experience with, both first and second hand: Gluten-Free and Vegan diet.

** If you have a specific dietary need I'm not mentioning and you'd like to know how you can adapt this and other recipes to suit you, leave a comment and I'll get back to you!**

**Also, since I've discussed celiac, I should also briefly describe veganism to you all (in case there are those of you who are not familiar with this). A vegan is someone who does not ingest animal products (not only the meat of the animal, but things such as dairy and eggs as well) and those who partake in a vegan diet do so for a variety of reasons. Some vegans have certain allergies that prevent them from ingesting things like milk or the eggs (a close friend that I have is a vegan and is allergic to lactose). Other reasons include things like ethical and environmental choices, but for the purpose of this blog post, I won't so much go into those (but if you're curious, definitely look it up to educate yourselves).**

Back in (what I will call) "the day" (which really wasn't that long ago) options in the way of gluten-free and vegan baked goods were at a minimum; after all, if you can't use eggs or milk, and you can't use flour, you can't bake right? Wrong! Not only is it possible to bake, it's possible to bake DELICIOUS baked goods (that have the added bonus of not making you lock yourself in the washroom for the rest of the night).

And speaking of delicious and inclusive baked goods ...

my horn: "toot toot"

This recipe is so easy to make, even the most novice (the novice-est?) of bakers can seem like a dietary, culinary expert (wouldn't that look impressive on a resume?). I've included two cake recipes, one chocolate and one vanilla (because I've acknowledged you chocolate haters out there, and I respect you, even though I don't understand you ...) and I've left them plain, mostly because the chai icing does most of the work for you flavour-wise, but also because you have the ability to play around with them and have a little fun (add in some citrus zest, some flavoured extracts, etc and it's a whole new cupcake!). Those delicious cakes with the dreamy I-can't-believe-this-is-vegan chai icing will have you and your tasters coming back for more (and hey, you don't HAVE to let them know they're vegan and gluten-free until after they're licking the icing off of their fingers).

Now, I can tell that some of you are probably pretty skeptical about this, and that's okay! I have interviewed for pastry positions where the chefs don't bake what I like to call "inclusive desserts" because they "just don't taste as good as 'regular' desserts". This opinion, I feel, is based on a few different things: 1) they haven't educated themselves enough to know how to do it right 2) based on the previous fact, they aren't doing it right and 3) they've never had an inclusive dessert and are going off of assumptions. It's true, in a lot of these recipes the ingredients aren't exactly what you would call standard (flour out of rice, and milk out of beans and nuts? What is this sorcery?), but it's the finished product that truly counts; the proof is in the pudding as they say (or in this case, the cupcake). So, I guess this is me daring you to give these a try, dear readers; step out of your culinary comfort zones for this one and you may just be surprised.

Happy (inclusive) Baking!

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes:
1 cup almond/rice/soy milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sifted all purpose flour (regular or gluten free)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix vinegar with milk of choice and let stand for 10 minutes. Whisk vinegar/milk mixture with oil, sugar, and vanilla. In another bowl combine dry ingredients (excluding sugar which you’ve already used!)  Add wet to dry and mix until combined. Bake for 25 minutes.

Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes:
1 cup almond/rice/soy milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour (regular or gluten free)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
¾ cup sugar
2 ¼ tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix vinegar and milk of choice and let stand for 10 minutes. Whisk vinegar/milk mixture with oil, sugar and vanilla. In another bowl combine dry ingredients. Add wet to dry and mix until combined. Bake for 22 minutes.

Vegan Vanilla Chai Frosting:
½ cup vegan margarine
4 cups powdered sugar
2 chai tea bags
cinnamon (sprinkle as much as desired)
3 Tbsp. boiling water
2 Tbsp. vanilla almond/rice/soy milk
¼ tsp. salt

Let chai tea bags sit in 3 tablespoons of boiling water for 10 minutes. Add vanilla almond/rice/soy milk. Put aside. Beat margarine until soft, and add powdered sugar, salt, and tea mixture, alternating a little at a time. Add in Cinnamon to taste.


  1. Omg that little grey guy is sooooo cute :)

  2. Dark chocolate is a great source of vitamins and minerals. It is full of magnesium and iron, and it also contains vitamin B that helps to boost your energy levels. It also contains copper and potassium that are important for maintaining good health.



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