Endless Cupcakes

We love them. We hate them. We need to eat them.

Cupcakes have become the divisive issue in the world of treats. However you feel, we can all agree that they’re a fantastic way to ingest a day’s worth of sugar. Enjoy our collection—both recipes and commentary—for this most tiny package.

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Cupcake Rampage: Gluten-Free Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

gf mint
a. k. a. Bunraku cupcakes. Get it? Of course you do.

I know several people who have the bad luck to suffer from celiac disease, a disorder of the autoimmune system that manifests itself as varying degrees of wheat intolerance. The impact of this affliction is that they can’t enjoy a lot of the foods that some of us might take for granted; breads, beer, cupcakes, etc.

Vegans and celiacs are like kindred spirits in this sense; we take forever to shop because we inspect every ingredient list in the grocery store aisles, we don’t make any friends at restaurants when we viciously interrogate hapless servers, and we both suffer when we screw up, albeit in different ways. For most vegans, the lifestyle is a conscious choice; celiacs don’t really have a say in the way their bodies behave.

Baking gluten-free isn’t as difficult as it’s been made out to be, although it does require a few extra ingredients and involves an additional step or two. Most gluten-free recipes will call for the use of two or three different kinds of gluten-free flours. The reason for this is that while wheat flour is, for the most part, bland and flat; flours made from other grains and seeds each have their own distinctive flavors and textures that can easily overwhelm and throw off the final result. A good example is corn flour, which has a very identifiable taste and works great for corn muffins or tortillas, but not so much if you’re trying to utilize other flavors, like chocolate.

Recipe after the jump.

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Cupcake Rampage: Hummingbird Cakes

I know what you’re thinking: Hummingbird cake? WTF? That’s okay, I’d never heard of it, either.

You could call this the third leg of a twisted Triple Crown of Southern-style baking, following the Kentucky Derby day mint julep cupcakes and the beloved red velvet ones before that. To carry the analogy further, if red velvet is Man o’ War, and mint juleps are Secretariat, then hummingbird cake would be Seabiscuit.

Get it? Of course you do.

Hummingbird cake is another creation peculiar to the Deep South with an even more convoluted and obscure history. Also called “granny cake” and “cake-that-doesn’t-last,” some sources claim the original recipe hails from Australia, where it’s also popular for some reason, while others say it started in Jamaica and was bastardized into its current incarnation along the way. The oldest recorded appearance of hummingbird cake is 1978, when it appeared as a reader-submitted recipe in Southern Living magazine. However, Jamaican newspapers have mentioned something called “Doctor bird cake” as early as a decade before that. The national bird of Jamaica is the red-billed streamertail hummingbird, also called the Doctor bird because its long tail feathers and top-hat-like crest makes it look…kind of, sort of, maybe if you squint and pretend it has a tiny birdie stethoscope around its neck…like the nappily-dressed Victorian doctors of old.

What all this has to do with a cake, no one seems to know. The Jamaica story is a stretch, at best. It could just be called what it is because this cake is so sweet, thanks to sugar from three separate ingredients, even a hummingbird would be attracted to it. However it came to be, the recipe is after the jump…

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