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Monday, August 26, 2013

Making Kombucha, Lemon Sugar and GF Cupcakes!

It was a day in the kitchen! I made some delightful treats and decided to separate it into two posts. Keep reading for some sweeties :)

Making Kombucha

This is a fermented tea beverage from China. It is made using a bacterial culture that feeds off the sugar in the tea anywhere from 7-28 days. You then remove the layers of scoby and drink the tea. I prefer it ice cold from the refrigerator. It is tangy and usually fizzy. I first had it in Germany and fell in love. This is my first attempt making it. I purchased a kit on Amazon from OK:

The tea bag is on the left and the scoby culture in some pre-brewed tea is on the right. It wasn't hard to make. Basically like making tea normally, except a gallon of it! Also you don't drink it or want it hot.
You need a cup of refined white sugar, which sounds like a lot, but as I mentioned the bacteria are utilizing this as food during the fermentation process. So when you are ready to drink your kombucha, a serving only has about 25 calories and few grams of sugar.
After you let the tea cool to room temperature, you add the scoby and cover it with a cloth (something that keeps debris out but allows air in). I keep it in a warm part of the kitchen so the bacteria can grow (the directions recommend 85F). I'm gonna let this baby do it's magic for probably 10 days. Really simple, and the health benefits of kombucha as well as most fermented foods (sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi) are many. Another cool thing is once you've purchased this kit, you have the culture to keep making kombucha. You just save the scoby in a cup of the tea in a baggy until you need it :)

Making Lemon Sugar

1 cup white sugar
1-2 lemons (depending on size)

I cannot remember the last time I used refined sugar, but since I had taken it out to make the tea, I realized it was going to expire soon. I've never seen lemon sugar made with coconut sugar or any other alternatives I use, so I decided to make some. All you need to do is zest the lemon over a bowl of sugar so the peel and oils coat it. Mix and spread thin on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Let dry for 1-2 hours. You don't want any moisture in the sugar or it will spoil. Your sugar will now have a light taste and perfume of lemon :)

Gluten-Free Lemon Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache & Raspberries

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes | Yields: 12 cupcakes

Coconut (or other gluten-free) flour, 1 3/4 cups 
Non-dairy milk (I used Almond vanilla), 1 1/4 cups
Earth Balance butter or coconut oil, 1/2 cup
Apple Cider or white Vinegar, 2 Tbs
Lemon Juice (fresh), 1 1/2 Tbs
Flax Meal & Water, 1 + 1 Tbs
Turmeric Powder, 1 1/2 tsp
Pure Lemon Extract, 1 tsp
Lemon Sugar, 3/4 cup 
Baking Powder, 1tsp 
Baking Soda, 1 tsp 
Zest of Lemon
Salt, 1/2 tsp

Dark Chocolate Chips, 1/4 cup
Coconut Oil (virgin), 1 Tbs

Preheat your oven to 350F. Melt your butter or use oil. In a small bowl add your water and the flax meal or ground chia to form our egg-like binder. Stir together your vinegar and milk in a small bowl, letting it rest for 5 minutes. combine your flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix your milk, oil, sugar, lemon juice and zest in another bowl. Side note: if you don't have turmeric, it can be left out (bet you never heard of turmeric in a dessert before). I added it because it gives the cupcakes a lovely yellow color, doesn't affect the flavor, is a very healthy spice, and a natural food dye. Add your wet ingredients. Use an electric mixer or your hands. Add in your flax egg and stir. 
Spray a muffin tin with non-stick oil or use liners. Spoon your cupcake mix into the tins. Bake for 30 minutes, or whenever a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the tin. Meanwhile...
In a glass bowl add your chocolate chips and coconut oil (or butter). You can microwave them or use a double boiler. I decided to boil because the chocolate reaches a perfect consistency and stays creamy for a long time this way. Find a pot that is small enough so the bowl doesn't fall inside and deep enough so it doesn't touch the pot. Add water to the pot only a few inches deep (you don't want it to touch the bottom of your bowl).
Put your pot on the stove over high heat with a lid, bring to a boil. When boiling, turn the heat to low and put your bowl on the pot. The water should just simmer, you will see trapped steam and maybe condensation. Stir the chips as they melt until the mixture is smooth and thin.
Now you can either spread the chocolate on your cupcakes with an icing spatula or hold them upside down and dip them. I tried both and they worked well. Serve hot topped with raspberries (or any fruit sliced) or put in the fridge for 10 minutes for the chocolate to harden.

Enjoy :)

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