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Gluten-free cupcakes a tasty alternative to top off a meal

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Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 12:00 am

St. Paddy's Day comes and goes quickly, but I like to celebrate all March long. Although I have always been proud to be Irish, I have never been excited about Irish food. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that every St. Patrick's Day, my family sits down to a big corned beef and cabbage feast.

Growing up, I would take my "no thank you bites" of corned beef and cabbage, and then proceed to eat my fill of boiled potatoes — an Irish food I am actually very excited about. Over the years I have realized that though I will never change my family's affinity for a St. Patrick's Day corned beef dinner and the nights of leftovers that follow, I can give myself a little something to look forward to during one of my favorite holidays by creating a delicious dessert reminiscent of the Emerald Isle.

This year, I chose to make a gluten-free Irish cream cupcake. I have followed a gluten-free diet for four years and I love coming up with new recipes for baked goods, however; I have noticed that as soon as I mention something is gluten-free, people get scared. Their eyes grow wide and they are no longer hungry. No worries here — these cupcakes disappeared quickly and were enjoyed by gluten-eaters and gluten intolerant alike.

Instead of using a bunch of different specialty flours for this recipe, I used Pamela's Gluten-Free Baking Mix to keep it simple. This mix contains rice flours and almond meal which produces a flavor and texture that complements this cupcake recipe nicely. It also contains leavening agents and sea salt, so it is very easy to bake with. As for the Irish Cream, Carolan's Irish Cream Liqueur is a great-tasting, gluten-free alternative to the traditional Bailey's Irish Cream.

3/4 cup cream cheese

10 Tablespoons butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

2 3/4 cups Pamela's Gluten-Free Baking and Pancake Mix

3/4 cup Irish Cream Liqueur

3/4 cup chocolate chips tossed with 1/2 tablespoon Pamela's Gluten Free Baking Mix

To prepare the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F and line baking tins with 24 cupcake papers. Cream butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Add sugars and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three batches alternating with two batches of the Irish Cream Liqueur. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into tins, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes.

This cake pairs well with either chocolate or vanilla buttercream, and tastes even better when Irish Cream Liqueur is substituted for milk in any traditional frosting recipe. I used a chocolate fudge frosting with a hint of Irish Cream and topped the cupcakes off with a marshmallow fondant shamrock. I have also used kiwi slices to create edible shamrock decorations that top pretty white frosting.

Katherine Neeley was raised in Galt and attended Lodi schools. She is a nutritionist specializing in gluten free diets. She is also the preschool program director at Impact Sports Center in Lodi. She enjoys nutrition, fitness, baking and cake decorating.

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