A Gluten-free Birthday Celebration

my story Aug 31, 2012

More than anything else, my son wanted to have a 'normal' birthday this year. For his birthday last year we brought some paleo chocolate cupcakes with mint frosting to school that we thought were great, but his friends totally rejected and that didn't feel good to my little guy. Sometimes you just want a day that feels normal and easy. To him, 'normal' meant having family over to play in the water and eating foods he used to eat before we embarked on this paleo adventure. In the spirit of everything in moderation, we settled on a hot dog barbecue with baked beans, deviled eggs, green salad, and watermelon. And for dessert, I made him some gluten-free cupcakes that tasted like they were from a box and some rocky road ice cream (paleo style). The party went off without a hitch and you wouldn't have known that the food we served was (mostly) paleo. Here are some of the recipes I developed for this event. Enjoy!



Gluten-free cupcakes
(that taste like they came from a box)

I was inspired by this recipe from the angry chicken and decided to make a gluten-free version at my son's request for vanilla/vanilla cupcakes. These were a hit - perfectly fluffy and moist at the same time with a hint of vanilla and a not too sweet. In fact, two guests asked to take an extra home to a friend! You should totally try them. While not paleo, these cupcakes are gluten-free and dairy-free and they avoid vegetable oils that can cause inflammation. I've used one of these cupcake tools to take out a little bit of cake to hide some raspberry jam or lemon curd under the frosting and I HIGHLY recommend it. Takes the cupcakes to another level.


2 cups coconut or maple sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups white rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
1 cup coconut milk or whole fat raw milk
3/4 cup coconut oil
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper cups. (You can also prepare 2 9-inch round cake pans or a 9x13 rectangular baking pan by lining with parchment paper. Grease the tops and sides of pans well.)

In the large bowl of your mixer, beat the sugar and eggs together until light and thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and beat for another minute, just until the batter is smooth and creamy. Pour batter into the prepared cupcake pans.

Bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before covering with frosting, if desired.

Makes 24 cupcakes.


Perfect butter cream frosting

There is nothing quite like a perfect butter cream frosting. This is the frosting my mom made for every cake we ate growing up. We also used it to frost sugar cookies each Christmas and signaled something special. I love how tastes can instantly transport you to a specific time and place. This frosting does that for me. Sometimes I add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to make a chocolate frosting for my devil's food cake. Delish.


1 stick of butter, room temperature
16 oz  powdered sugar (sifted if you want a really smooth frosting)
2 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder (optional)


In a large mixing bowl beat the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat until thoroughly mixed. Add extract and mix.  Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the frosting is the right consistency - thick enough to stand up on your knife but not too stiff to spread on the cupcake. Spread on cooled cupcakes and top with toasted coconut or sprinkles, as desired.


Rocky Road Ice Cream (dairy-free)

This recipe for ice cream could not be easier. No heating is required to thicken, as coconut milk freezes rock solid. I adapted this chocolate coconut ice cream recipe to make a rocky road version and it was delightful! These would also make awesome chocolate popsicles.


2 14 oz cans of coconut milk (do not use lite versions)
1/3 cup coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey
2/3 cups cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
paleo marshmallows (plain)
toasted walnuts or almonds


Place the coconut milk, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and salt in a blend and mix. Freeze chocolate ice cream according to manufacturers directions. At the very end of the process, add marshmallows cut up into bit sized pieces and the nuts. Let harden in the freezer for a couple of hours and serve.

Warning: this ice cream gets really hard the longer it is in the freezer. You may need to set it on the counter to soften before scooping.


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