by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
April 12, 2011
Babycakes Covers the Classics
(Clarkson Potter, 2011)
The first time I tasted a Babycakes cupcake, I couldn’t believe that it was gluten-free. I thought gluten-free meant it had to taste bad. Boy was I wrong! And Erin McKenna’s popular bakery on the Lower East Side (and now in L.A.!) is proof. Erin started Babycakes bakery after being diagnosed with multiple food allergies forced her to adhere to a special diet. Her baked goods are not just gluten-free; the vegan treats are free of all the common allergens: wheat, dairy, casein and eggs. She uses all natural, organic alternatives. For example, instead of sugar she’ll sweeten with agave nectar, and she uses rice flour or gluten-free baking flour instead of regular wheat flour. It’s pretty unbelievable, but her sweets speak for themselves.
Erin’s latest cookbook, Babycakes Covers the Classics, deviates from cupcakes to explore gluten-free, vegan variations on the classics including pancakes, waffles, honey buns, cakes, cookies, whoopie pies and donuts. It’s definitely worth checking out!
Here’s her recipe for black and white cookies to whet your baking appetite.
For the longest time, I might have been the only person in the tristate area completely oblivious to the beautiful oversize black-and-white cookies found in every bodega from Brooklyn to the Bronx. Have you had one? Me, I was never allowed because of my food sensitivities, of course. So when I went to the kitchen and started brainstorming ideas for iconic cookies, this was one of the first ones I tackled. Prepare to be bathed in the sweet comfort of vanilla-chocolate overload.
1¼ cups white or brown rice flour
½ cup Bob’s Red Mill
All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
¹⁄³ cup vegan sugar
½ cup arrowroot
1½ teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup melted refined coconut oil or canola oil
¹⁄³ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
¹⁄³ cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Vanilla Sugar Glaze (recipe below)
Sugar-Sweetened Chocolate Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, arrowroot, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt. Add the coconut oil, applesauce, agave nectar, and vanilla and stir with a rubber spatula until the batter is smooth.
Using a ¼-cup ice-cream scoop or measure, drop the dough onto the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Using the bottom of the measuring cup, press the dough to ¹⁄³-inch thickness. Bake for 6 minutes, rotate the baking sheets, and bake for 4 minutes more. Let stand on the baking sheets for 20 minutes. Using a palette knife, spread chocolate sauce on one half of each of the -cookies. Spread vanilla glaze on the other half of each cookie and let set for 5 minutes before serving.
VANILLA SUGAR GLAZE
You may as well commit this recipe to memory because I guarantee you will return to it when you’re looking for that little something extra to add to recipes in this book and beyond. You’ll use it to dunk donuts, drizzle it on Wonder Buns, even slather it on pancakes.
Makes 1¼ cups
3 cups vegan powdered sugar
¹⁄³ cup hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, hot water, and vanilla and whisk briskly. If the glaze is too thick, add warm water one tablespoon at a time until the icing reaches a thick yet slightly runny consistency. If it becomes too runny, add more powdered sugar ¼ cup at a time. The glaze can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
SUGAR-SWEETENED CHOCOLATE DIPPING SAUCE
This recipe is extremely easy and can be ready in a jiff. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can make this in the oven or the microwave. Be warned: Your bowl or saucepan must be bone dry before you put the chips in or the sauce will break—a not-exactly technical term for separating into a lumpy mess. If, after you’re finished dipping your donut, you have a little extra, simply cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store at room temperature. As a rule of thumb, this recipe will keep for 5 days.
Makes about 1 cup
1 cup vegan gluten-free chocolate chips or your favorite chocolate bar, chopped
2 tablespoons melted refined coconut oil or canola oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the double boiler
Fill the bottom of a double boiler with water, set it over low heat, and bring the water to a gentle simmer. Add the chips and when they start to become shiny, stir until they are completely melted. Remove from the heat, add the coconut oil and salt, and stir until thoroughly combined.
For the microwave
Place the chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat at 50 percent power for 30 seconds. Stir. Continue heating and stirring in 15-second intervals until the chips are melted. Add the coconut oil and salt and stir until thoroughly combined.
For the oven
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the chips in a small -stainless-steel bowl and place in the oven for 5 minutes, or until they are shiny. Remove from the oven and stir until the chips are completely melted. Add the coconut oil and salt and continue stirring until thoroughly combined.