It is DAY 11 of the "Gluten Free Vegan Recipes" series and we are celebrating in style with the queen of gluten free vegan cupcakes, the spectacular Erin McKenna, celebrated founder and proprietress of beloved bakery, BabyCakes NYC. This world famous bakery chain now has bustling locations in two locations Los Angeles, one at the Downtown Disney® Marketplace at the Walt Disney World® Resort, in addition to it's flagship store in New York City.
BabyCakes NYC is a glorious indulgent gift to food allergic patrons and devoted vegans. However, discerning foodies, dessert lovers, and celebrities such as Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Deschanel, Mary-Louise Parker, Pamela Anderson, Tracy Anderson, and Jason Schwartzman are also BabyCakes devotees, flocking to indulge in decadent cupcakes, muffins, teacakes, cookies, brownies, pies, cobblers, and the famous addictive "frosting shots."
When Erin McKenna opened her first bakery in Manhattan's trendy Lower East Side in 2005, "it helped propel the gluten-free and vegan baking movement into a new stratosphere." Erin then received the prestigious "Best Cupcake" Award in 2006 from New York Magazine. Since then, Erin and Babycakes have been featured in hundreds of the world's biggest publications including the New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, Food & Wine, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Lucky, and InStyle. McKenna has also appeared on all of the top TV Shows such as Today, Good Morning America, Cooking Channel, Food Network, and Martha Stewart Television. In 2011, Veg News Magazine named BabyCakes as Best Vegan Bakery, and Company Of The Year! So, I couldn't host a gluten free vegan celebration without including Erin and her incredible Gluten Free Vegan Carrot Muffins with Vanilla Frosting. Trust me, her allergy-friendly, whole foods creations are to die for!
After discovering she suffered from wheat, dairy, and sugar sensitivities, Erin spent years experimenting with gluten free flours, dairy free milks, and alternative sweeteners to perfect the recipes that we now enjoy. The success of her bakery with it's quirky, hip, retro branding was so huge with a loyal and far-reaching clientele, that she published her first cookbook, Babycakes in 2009 sharing her trade secrets.
This gorgeous book really is a step-by-step lesson in gluten free vegan baking. Erin shares detailed information about the ingredients she uses such as: coconut flour, coconut oil, agave nectar, dry soy milk, and arrowroot. She also offers her recommendations on "must have" kitchen equipment; as well as allergy-friendly substitution tips and tricks she has learnt along the way. I love how she encourages every baker to "replace any nervousness with courage" reminding readers that, "mistakes only make successes all the more delicious." Amen! I love all of the entertaining anecdotes too.
But the recipes are the star of this book! Every page offers a wave of pleasure. Decadent Pumpkin-Spice Muffins meet Strawberry Shortcakes, and Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread. The Banana Chocolate Chip Bread is a standout; as are the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches. Her Brownies and Volcanos are also coveted. But I had to feature these Carrot Cake Cupcakes that are my favorite recipe in the book. Or maybe it's just an excuse to celebrate Erin's famous vanilla frosting!
I am not even a huge fan of frosting, but I have contemplated "death by BabyCakes frost shot" along with many others I am sure. This recipe produces a thick creamy frosting that is rich and versatile. You can top cakes, or use it as a whipped topping for other desserts. You can also leave at a room temperature for a delicious sauce that goes on everything! Or you can just do what hundreds of others do every week -- cut the cake out altogether and squeeze a shot right into your gob! LOL!
You should also check out Erin's second book, Babycakes Covers the Classics where there is an entire section devoted to her show-stopping Donuts which Mark Bittman has gushed, "Vegan or not, gluten-free or not, Erin McKenna's donuts are the best I've had in twenty years, without exception." High praise indeed. Erin also shares her incredible allergy-free spin on favorites such as Chocolate Chip Cookies, Sugar Cookies, Thin Mints, German Chocolate Cake, S'Mores, Whoopie Pies, Snickerdoodles, Pancakes and Waffles. All delivered with the original BabyCakes charm and humor.
If you are not inclined to bake and don't live near any of the BabyCakes locations, you can order online and check out the blog. You can also buy pre-packaged cake and cookie mixes in their online store. I am really excited for the NEW BabyCakes APP that is coming soon.
I honestly can't rave enough about Erin and her team at BabyCakes NYC. They just rock!
Erin -- thank you for your tireless hours of experimentation that led to the baked bliss that we now enjoy. You are amazing.
Special thanks to Michelle Yee for co-ordinating this contribution.
Learn more about Erin McKenna at BabyCakes NYC
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