I love baking. It’s probably one of my favourite things to do in the kitchen. I’m the cake maker in our family and whenever we have a big birthday or celebration I’m always the go-to person to bake for the occasion.
With Molly’s first birthday (and mine – we’re born on the same day) just around the corner (AHHH can it really be that soon?!?!?) I wanted to come up with a cake option that wasn’t loaded with sugar but that still tasted great. I’ve been testing out my recipes at Molly’s childcare and given it’s an egg and nut free centre I wanted to make a cupcake that had no eggs in it so I could try it out with the kids there. I also wanted to create something that almost any child could eat, regardless of allergies.
I adore chocolate EVERYTHING and rarely a day will pass that I don’t have at least one little square of Lindt dark chocolate. But cocoa contains caffeine so for growing little bodies it’s not recommended. This recipe uses carob instead of cocoa. Carob is such a great alternative to cocoa and is absolutely loaded with goodness. It is naturally sweet and contains three times as much calcium as cocoa. Other benefits include that it is high in protein, contains vitamins A, B, B2, B3 and D, is a good antioxidant and has proven results in the treatment of colds, flus and asthma.
In addition to dates, I have also used rice malt syrup as the sweeteners for this recipe. Rice malt syrup is made 100 per cent from brown rice and has a low glycemic value so it doesn’t cause a sudden sugar spike like other sugars.
You can find carob powder and rice malt syrup in health food stores and the major supermarkets also generally stock rice malt syrup in the baking or health food aisles.
* 1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
* ½ cup (100g) firmly packed pitted dates
* 1/3 cup (100g) rice malt syrup
* 100g unsalted butter, diced and left out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before baking
* 1 teaspoon of natural vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
* 1/3 cup of carob powder
* 1/2 teaspoon bi-carb soda
* ½ cup milk
* 2 eggs worth of natural egg replacer (I use the Orgran No Egg natural egg replacer which is lactose, egg and animal product free and you can find in health food stores). You can also just use two eggs, lightly beaten, if your child or those you are feeding are not allergic.
1. Pre-heat a fan-forced oven to 180 degrees and line two cupcake trays with 12 patty cases.
2. Place dates, rice malt syrup, carob powder, vanilla, egg mixture and half the milk into a food processor and blend for at least three minutes, until all the dates are processed and you have a smooth chocolate mixture as shown below. The longer the better when it comes to the time they are blending in the food processor.
3. While the date mixture is combining in the food processor, cream the butter in a large bowl with an electric beater for five minutes. Stop halfway to scrape any butter back into the centre of the bowl that might have escaped up the sides.
4. In a separate, smaller bowl sift the flour and bi-carb soda together.
5. Slowly add sifted flour and chocolate mixture to the creamed butter in alternate batches. Beating each time until just combined.
6. Add remaining milk to the mixture and beat until just combined.
7. Spoon mixture into patty cases and fill to around half to three-quarters full depending on how big you want the cupcakes.
8. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cupcake comes out clean. Check at 15 minutes if they are cooked as you don’t want to over bake.
9. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
This will make around 12-16 cupcakes depending on how full your patty cases are.
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