Cutie Clementine Cupcakes (Gluten-Free).

More and more I’m trying to focus on seasonal eating, since it’s good for both our bodies and our planet.  But you know what’s in season in January?  Not much.  But one of the things that I look forward to every winter is the arrival of the little wooden crates of clementines.

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These adorable little easy-to-peel “cuties” are like perfect snack size mini oranges.  I thought it would be fun to try to incorporate them into a recipe, and after seeing the Clementine Date Cake in the recent issue of Cooking Light, I was inspired. 

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But with just two of us in the house, I thought a full cake seemed a bit excessive.  More and more I am hearing from readers who would like to see more gluten-free options here.  It may have taken me a few tries, but you ask and I deliver…

Cutie Clementine Cupcakes (Gluten-Free)

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Ingredients:  (makes 12 cupcakes)

  • 3 tbsp Earth Balance vegan butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 5 clementines, peeled and segmented
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup orange (or tangerine) juice
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

(Note: If you don’t want to make these gluten-free, you can simply sub in 2 cups AP-flour for the other flours, and remove the added xanthan gum.)

To Prepare:  Start by preheating the oven to 325 degrees.  Then add the Earth Balance, coconut oil, and brown sugar to a mixing bowl and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy.

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Coconut oil gives these cupcakes a rich flavor and moist texture.  If you don’t already have some in your pantry, I highly recommend you pick up a jar!

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In a small bowl, mix the tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tbsp water, and set aside for a few minutes to thicken (this creates a “flax egg”).  Once it’s ready, add the “egg” and the vanilla to the mixer and beat in slowly.

Next, in a food processor (I busted out the handy mini prep for this!), add three peeled and segmented clementines and pulse a few times.

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Add 1/2 cup walnuts on top of the clementines, and then pulse until the mixture is pureed and liquidy (that’s a technical term).  Set aside.

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In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients – brown rice flour, coconut flour, garbanzo flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum.  Once mixed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the orange juice to the creamed butter and sugar – beating on medium speed to combine. 

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Once the flour mixture and orange juice are added, add the clementine/walnut mixture and beat for at least one minute.  Coat your muffin tin with non-stick spray and spoon the cupcake batter into the cups.  They will be very full!  Because this mixture is gluten free, it’s a bit stickier and fluffier than traditional cupcake batter, but trust me – the end result is delicious.

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Bake for 22 minutes in a 325 degree oven.

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While the cupcakes bake, prepare your powdered sugar glaze.  I actually used this Trader Joe’s “Dynamo” juice in lieu of orange juice – it is a blend of orange, grape, and tangerine juices – yum!

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Add 2 tbsp juice to 1 cup powdered sugar and whisk to combine.

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Set aside and wait for the cupcakes to come out of the oven.

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Set up a cooling rack over a cookie sheet or a piece of parchment paper – anything that can get messy underneath.  When the cupcakes are out of the oven, carefully transfer them to the cooling rack.

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Now comes the fun part.  Peel and segment your two extra clementines, and grab some extra walnuts for garnish.  Take a tiny bit of glaze and apply it to the top of your cupcake – just a dollop.

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As soon as you add the drop of glaze, set a slice of clementine and a walnut on top so that they stick in the gooey glaze.  Do this until all 12 cupcakes are garnished.

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Then use the additional glaze to drizzle all over the top of the cupcakes!  Yuuuuuuum.

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The glaze will run off the edges and drip underneath onto the cookie sheet, so the bottoms won’t be messy or sticky.  Allow the glaze to set for 10 minutes before eating.

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Don’t let the muffin-like outer appearance fool you – these are a deliciously sweet treat!  There is actually not much sugar in the cupcake itself, but the glaze more than makes up for it in sweetness.

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Casey and I kept trying to figure out exactly what these taste like when it suddenly dawned on me.  Glazed donuts!  These are cupcake donuts.  And I definitely consider that to be a good thing. 

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Gluten-free baking is definitely its own art form, and while these aren’t the fluffy birthday cupcakes you might be used to, they are dense and delicious and addicting.

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So delicious, in fact, that while I was taking these photos – my dog at three of them!  $%&#!

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This recipe is tasty enough for everyone, with just a little something special for my gluten-free friends.

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Enjoy!