Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gluten Free Coconut Cupcakes and little treasures

            We have a terrific gluten free bakery not far from my house, and sometimes I just get a hankering for one of their cinnamon buns or carrot cake muffins. I figure, eating just one of those has to be better than making and eating a whole batch of something here, right? One day I sent The Student on a mission there, and he returned with gold: a coconut cupcake. I savored that cupcake and then thought about that cupcake….and dreamed about that cupcake...for days. I decided I just HAD to figure out how to make a coconut cupcake myself, and in my internet searches, I stumbled upon not only a wonderful recipe, but an even more wonderful organization, An Orphan's Wish, in China. Their mission statement reads:

“An Orphan’s Wish is a group of dedicated volunteers striving to improve the lives of orphans in China. Through child sponsorships and donations we support orphans with special needs residing at the House of Love in the city of Guilin.”

       I will share the recipe I adapted, but first, go look at these beautiful children and the great work that’s being done there. I will wait! I love that An Orphan's Wish is providing care for little ones with no-one in the world, and that they allow other folks, who may not feel able to adopt a child, to participate in the children’s care through sponsorships. And I love that the people at An Orphan’s Wish nurture these little ones, prepare them for a forever family, and advocate for them. All children need love and acceptance in their earliest years, and children with physical differences or medical issues, who may or may not be accepted in their cultures, especially need people who will help them receive medical care and show them their worth as human beings.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  James 1:27

            When my parents were children, children with disabilities were often sent to institutions, or kept at home, out of sight. It was assumed that someone with a physical disability also had developmental disabilities, and that people with either couldn’t be part of society.

Unfortunately, in many countries, it is still like that, with very little in the way of disability access, and little acceptance of those with differences. Organizations like Social Welfare Society in Korea, which cared for our sons prior to their homecomings, are showing the children and the societies they live in a different way. We have a photo album The Wrestler’s foster mother sent home with him, showing the outings she took with him to pizza restaurants, parks, stores and festivals. She helped teach our son that he is not defined by his limb difference, and that he is valuable, he is lovable, he is worth loving – and he can do anything! I am forever thankful to our children’s foster mothers and care nurses in Korea, and I know that the boys' emotional wholeness is in large part due to the love they were shown.

Are you done trying to figure out how to sponsor a little one, and ready to bake? When I saw the recipe listed on the website, I couldn’t believe that something with only five ingredients – and no eggs – could make a good cupcake. But it was simple, and worth a try. I made a few changes to make the recipe gluten and dairy free, upping the ingredients to a whopping 6 with the addition of xanthan gum. The results were a huge hit here. We make these for parties, for Tuesday Poet-teas in our homeschool, and for potlucks, and wherever we bring them, people ask for the recipe. They are moist, sweet (but not too), and something like a macaroon. With chocolate chips added, you could get sort of a Mounds thing going on.
The original recipe calls for dessicated coconut, which is a very finely shredded coconut I’ve gotten at the health food store, but regular grocery store coconut works just as well. It also turns out beautifully baked in a greased loaf pan, lined with greased parchment paper – a thin cake to slice and serve. And for cupcakes, I just found these these parchment baking cups at our local grocery store - very much like regular muffin liners, but non-stick. These are sticky cupcakes, and these liners peel off easily.

Coconut Cupcakes (Gluten and Dairy Free)

1cup coconut

½ tsp xanthan gum

1 scant cup sugar

1 cup Silk coconut milk (or other similar brand) or almond milk

1 tsp. baking powder.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Add coconut milk beverage/almond milk and stir until well mixed. Spoon into cupcake pans lined with paper liners, and bake in 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown on top and lightly browned on the bottom (I peek).

I’ve found cupcakes have a tendency to burn on the bottom, so I place one cupcake pan on the top shelf, and the second, on an insulated cookie sheet on the middle shelf of the oven, sometimes carefully switching their places once the batter is set.

Yield: about 10 full-sized cupcakes. I double (or triple) this recipe.

Happy Eating!
Trusting in Him,

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