I really enjoyed the spiced honey & corn cupcakes I made the other day, but they also left me craving a more classic cupcake. To me, vanilla beans are the epitome of classic elegance in dessert flavor form. I ordered half a pound of vanilla beans online months ago, used half of them to make a bunch of little bottles of vanilla extract, and still have a bunch left. I highly recommend ordering beans online in bulk, since it's much more economical and they're likely to be much fresher than overpriced grocery store beans.
These cupcakes are light and fluffy, because they're made with coconut flour instead of almond flour. Of all the paleo & gluten-free treats I've made, these may be the closest in taste and texture to their gluten-laden cousins. I highly recommend them! They're also perfect for people with nut allergies or for bringing to birthday celebrations in nut-free classrooms. This recipe makes a very small batch (good for people like me with no restraint), but can easily be doubled.
The mocha frosting pairs perfectly with the rich vanilla cupcake. It's so good that I had a lot of trouble putting it on the cupcakes, since I was so busy tasting it again and again. You won't notice the honey--just the robust flavors of coffee and chocolate. Make sure to use good coffee that you enjoy drinking, and make sure it's finely ground. If you don't eat butter, I recommend trying this vegan chocolate frosting from Elana's Pantry, and adding ground coffee to that (the cupcakes themselves are already dairy free). You could also probably make my recipe with coconut butter or vegan butter, but I haven't tested that myself.
For the cupcakes (adapted from Elana's Pantry):
1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Seeds scraped from half a vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together the coconut flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add the vanilla bean seeds, and mix together with your fingers, pinching the mixture to evenly distribute the vanilla seeds. In a small bowl, whisk together the vanilla extract, eggs, coconut oil, and honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk well, or beat with a hand mixer, until very smooth. Pour the batter into the cupcake cups and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
For the frosting:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon cocoa
Tiny pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee
Coffee beans for garnish
Using a hand mixer, beat the butter until very smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until incorporated. If your frosting does not seem stiff enough, refrigerate for a little while, then beat again. Once the cupcakes are completely cool, pipe or spread on the frosting (I used a Wilton 1M tip). Top with a coffee bean if desired.
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