Making Cupcakes: The Lemonade of Life for the Food Allergy Mom

September 24, 2017

 

 

When I was growing up, I was told: If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. My young daughter's food allergies are a pretty sour lemon in our life right now. Every event we go to is darkened by the looming fear of an anaphylactic reaction, by the planning for a reaction, and by the preventative steps we must take to keep her safe and included. It can be exhausting, stressful, and emotional at times. If you don't live this life, it can be hard to understand, but another food allergy mom explained it well. She said, imagine you are with your tiny toddler over a friend's house that is not baby proofed; the stairs are a gaping death trap, the fire place is an open roaring inferno, and there are marbles and tacks all over the floor. Could you sit back and relax and socialize in that setting? Probably not. You would likely feel on-edge, hyper-vigilant, while making sure your child is safe. This is similar to what its like to be a food allergy mom. And then there is the challenge of inclusion, because she can't eat the food or the cake at most parties. She is old enough to notice and has expressed feeling sad and excluded at times. I decided I'm going to make this sourness in our life a little sweeter by learning to make the most delicious "safe" cupcakes that I can, and bring them to every party. This way, my daughter can at least eat safely, feel included, and we can have fun while we are preparing to go out. It's my way of turning a negative into a positive. The only catch is finding the right recipes!

 

As I have said before, there are a lot of bad allergy-safe recipes out there, claiming to be delicious. I have made many of them over the years, and had my heart trampled each time, one recipe after another. That is, UNTIL I discovered The Holy Grail Cake recipe (AKA wacky cake). The additional challenge was finding a recipe for homemade vegan and nut free frosting. I struggled, because as you might know, I cannot tolerate the taste of Earth's Balance, which is the base for many allergy friendly frostings. I tried Crisco, but didn't love it. I tried coconut cream, but that didn't form. It was a nightmare. Finally, a fellow allergy mom suggested I try Fleischmann's margarine as the base. And guess what? It actually worked! I tried making two different frostings; one that was a vanilla "butter cream" and the other a dark chocolate. Both were delicious and beautifully balanced. I finally have the perfect pairing of homemade cake and frosting to help lighten our mood when preparing to go to a party. Please see the three recipes below. I have included both the "butter cream", and dark chocolate frosting recipes, as well as "The Holy Grail Cake" recipe from an earlier post, adjusted for cupcakes.

 

It seems funny to write this, but so painfully obvious as I post about these recipes: These beautifully frosted cupcakes are sort of a metaphor for my struggle as an allergy mom. I have tried and failed to make these countless times, literally crying over crumbling, chemical flavored, chewy, disgusting cupcakes, feeling sorry for myself and my child for the life that we live. But, I kept trying, just as I've made countless mistakes in managing her food allergies: I keep going, learning, growing, and improving. I don't want to be bogged down in the negativity of it all, even though, of course, it can be emotionally hard sometimes. Most importantly, I want to model this for my little girl. I don't want her life to be shrouded in fear by the challenges she faces, whether it be her food allergies or something else. I want her to look at life and say, "Okay, this is what I have to work with, and I'm going to kill it!" (Even if she has to try and fail a million times.) I want her to be able to take something difficult and make her life beautiful because of her struggle. I don't want her to ignore the problem, be ashamed of the problem, or simply feel bad about it. I want her to acknowledge it and embrace it. I want her to make goddamn delicious cupcakes, even when life gives her lemons, because cake tastes a heck of a lot better than lemonade! 

 

 

 

Vanilla "Butter Cream" Frosting (Egg, Diary, and Nut Free)

 

2 Sticks of Fleischmann's Unsalted Margarine

1 1/2  Cups of Confectioner's Sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla soy milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon of salt

 

Let margarine soften on your counter. Once soft, beat margarine with mixer until creamy. Slowly add sugar until light and fluffy. Add soy milk, vanilla extract, and blend. Lastly, add salt and finish blending until light and fluffy. Refrigerate to let it cool and harden for decorating for 15-20 minutes. (Image shown above)

 

 

Dark Chocolate Frosting (Egg, Dairy, and Nut Free)

 

2 Sticks of Fleischmann's Unsalted Margarine

1 1/2 cup of Confectioner's Sugar

5 Tablespoons of Hershey's Cocoa Powder

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of vanilla soy milk

1 teaspoon of sea salt

3 Tablespoons of Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips melted, but cooled

 

 

Let margarine soften on your counter. Once soft, beat margarine with mixer until creamy. Slowly add sugar until light and fluffy. Add cocoa powder, beat until fully mixed. Add chocolate chips, add soy milk, vanilla extract, and blend. Lastly, add salt and finish blending until light and fluffy. Refrigerate to let it cool and harden for decorating for 15-20 minutes. Voila!

 

 

The Holy Grail Cupcakes

 

3 Cups Flour

2 Cups Sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons of Cocoa Powder

1/3 cup of oil

2 teaspoons of vanilla

2 Cups Water

2 Tablespoons Vinegar

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients and add water and vinegar LAST. Put in cupcake papers, and bake 15-18 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before frosting.

*If you would prefer vanilla, simply leave out the cocoa powder and follow the recipe as is.

*If you would like to try a chocolate mint cupcake, add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract, rather then vanilla, and add an Oreo on top for good measure! Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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