When it comes to food, I don’t believe we should limit ourselves unnecessarily. Food restrictions for allergy and illness reasons shouldn’t be ignored, of course, but doing it just because of a whim or a food fad seems pointless to me. I know I’ll never be a vegetarian – I like meat, and I enjoy cooking and eating it. I don’t see any purpose for cutting it out of my diet.

But, the same logic works the other way around, too. I don’t see any reason to avoid vegetarian meals or even the occasional vegan option. If a gluten-free food tastes good, why not make it and enjoy it as I would any other food? The only foods that should be avoided, generally speaking, are those that are heavily processed (in one way or another). There’s no rule that says a meat-lover has to avoid a meal without meat, or that someone who has no problem eating foods with gluten should avoid gluten-free options. Variety is important, as long as we keep our health in mind.

Take cupcakes, for example. I love making them, and I love eating them. But I’m very careful about how much of them I am eating. I rarely eat a whole cupcake in one sitting. It’s not often that I eat more than one cupcake from a batch. So, there’s the moderation. As for what goes into those cupcakes? Well, anything goes.

I made these cupcakes because one of Geordie’s co-workers asked me to because she is gluten-intolerant. I do not get nearly as many requests as I would like. Geordie’s co-workers eat the majority of my cupcakes, so I have no problems making what they want to eat, especially when I make something for someone who otherwise can’t have that something. It’s nice to have a focus at times.

For these, I decided to stick with just plain vanilla cupcakes. Plus a frosting made from a vanilla bean, because now I have vanilla beans, and I want to use them.

Hello, you pretty little thing.

Gluten-free Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

I used this recipe at Sweetapolita, converting it to cupcakes and simply replacing the cake flour with gluten-free flour, because that’s what I have at the moment. I know I’ll try gluten-free cupcakes again in the future, and when that time rolls around, I’ll try making my own gluten-free flour, just to see how it works.

Honestly, I wasn’t overly impressed. Gluten-free takes some getting used to, I think. The cake had a crumb and consistency that reminded me of the rice flour cupcakes I’ve made in the past, a little on the dense side, and just a hint of unpleasant chalkiness. The flavor wasn’t really affected, but it’s definitely a change in mouthfeel. I imagine it’s less jarring if you know it’s coming. I told Geordie to be sure and let everyone know what they were biting into. And, as I said, I’d like to try other flour combinations and see how that changes things. Making delicious gluten-free treats seems to be an exercise in trial and error. I’ll keep on trying.

Also, it probably didn’t help that the vanilla bean frosting is one of the best frostings I have ever made. I don’t need a cake for this stuff; I just want to eat it by itself. I don’t usually say that about frosting (not anymore, not since I was 50 pounds heavier than I am now), and I’m not actually going to do it. Though it is tempting.

Vanilla is one of my favorite flavorings. Considering some of the things I like, it may seem a bit plain and uninteresting. But, truly, there is nothing more sublime than pure vanilla. It’s so simple a flavor, but it has this amazing depth to it. It can be dark and mysterious or light and carefree. Vanilla is perfect in that it can enhance other flavors or stand strongly on its own. For me, real vanilla – the pure stuff, nothing “imitation” – beats chocolate any day.

vanillabeanfrosting

Hello, you pretty little thing.

So, there you have it. I’d like to try this cake recipe with the cake flour – it tasted great, and I bet it’d have a very nice crumb. And I’ll give gluten-free cupcakes another shot in the future, because I’d like to see what I can do with it.

And this frosting? Yup, that’ll become a standard in my repertoire, I do believe. Oh, heaven.

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