One of the most delicious, gluten-free and superfood-rich recipes that you could possibly make is a batch of Pomegranate & Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes. With this recipe, three all stars – quinoa, pomegranates and chocolate – team up to produce a delicious chocolate cake filled with a juicy pomegranate core. It’s so rich, fluffy and moist, you won’t believe your taste buds when you realize there isn’t a trace of gluten to be found anywhere!
Inspired by the cookbook “Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood” by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming, this is a recipe that I created for my friends who have a gluten allergy. I’m especially intrigued by the powers of quinoa: an ancient seed from South America, it is gluten-free, high in protein, and a good source of fiber, calcium, magnesium, and iron. It is so nutritious that even NASA has been considering it as a potential crop aboard their future spaceships. So whether you’re planning ahead for a special occasion or space voyage, be sure to bring along these out-of-this-world cupcakes (pun intended :)). It really is one of those indulgences that you can treat everyone to without a lot of guilt!
Pomegranate & Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes
Yield: 12 regular-sized cupcakes
Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
12 cupcake liners
2/3 c. quinoa, raw
1 1/3 c. water
1/3 cups milk
4 large eggs, at room temperature*
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature*
1 1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. pomegranate juice
2 tbsp. sugar
1.5 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water
1/2 c. pomegranate seeds (check out my Chef’s Tip in this recipe for a quick way to seed a pomegranate)
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
1) Preheat the oven to 350 F / 177 C, and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
2) In a small pot, bring the quinoa and water to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes until cooked. Fluff with a fork and let cool (alternatively, if you have 2 cups of pre-cooked quinoa, skip this step).
3) In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine the milk, eggs and vanilla, and blend until mixed.
4) Add the cooked quinoa and butter. Blend until smooth.
5) Add the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt to batter and blend until smooth.
6) Pour the batter into each cupcake liner in the pan. Tap to remove any air bubbles.
7) Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean (crumbly bits sticking to the toothpick is OK). Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing cupcakes to a cooling rack.
8) Meanwhile, make the pomegranate filling by bringing 1 cup of pomegranate juice and 2 tbsp. sugar to a boil.
9) Make a “slurry” by adding 1 tbsp. of water to the cornstarch to dissolve it, then whisk into the pomegranate juice. Bring to a simmer while whisking, until the sauce has thickened and becomes translucent. Remove from heat and stir in the pomegranate seeds.
10) Using a knife, cut out a small hole (about 1″ / 2.5 cm in in diameter and depth) in the top of each cupcake.
11) Dust with confectioner’s sugar and spoon the pomegranate filling into each hole, and optionally, top with additional pomegranate seeds. If not consuming within 8 hours, keep refrigerated for up to 3 days until ready to enjoy.
*Chef’s Tip: With baking, ingredients like eggs and butter will mix better at room temperature and produce a lighter texture and even cooking. The best way to bring them to room temperature is to leave the ingredients out for about 2 hours, but if you don’t have time, try the following for:
– an egg, place it in a bowl of warm (but not hot) water for 10 minutes.
– butter, microwave it in the wrapper on high for 5 second intervals until soft, but not melted (this may take anywhere from a total of 15-20 seconds).
These cupcakes are best when fresh from the oven for up to 8 hours, but you can also make them ahead and store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For gift-giving, bake these cupcakes in a pretty liner, such as these ones by Robert Gordon.