Under The Sea

Ariel: [singing] Up where they walk / Up where they run / Up where they stay all day in the sun / Wanderin’ free / Wish I could be / Part of that world…

In the midst of wedding cake preparation craze, I have baked a sweet treat to take to my friends Kate and Lesley’s birthday party. And, more miraculously, I have found the time to take pictures and post them with a recipe for you, before the event! I am never this timely with my posts, sometimes waiting days or even weeks before posting the recipe and pictures. However, somehow I have managed to get these uploaded onto the computer and they’re itching to get to your screens, eyes, kitchens, ovens, and finally into your mouths and bellies.

The party is taking place at a local lake (okay, okay, so “Under The Lake” would probably be a more correct title for this post…), and I know these fabulous women from my elementary teaching credential program, so it seems like a fitting occasion to bust out my Little Mermaid cupcake wrappers and crack a few smiles when I deliver them tomorrow! Hopefully, the cupcakes will also crack a few smiles on my friends’ faces and in their tummies – one of them is gluten-free, so these cupcakes are too. A crunchy rich Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcake topped with a Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Frosting, and extra toasted hazelnut crumbs sprinkled on top…Well, I can’t imagine a better birthday dessert!

Scuttle: It’s a dinglehopper. Humans use these little babies… to straighten their hair out. See? Just a little twirl here and a yank there and voila. You’ve got an aesthetically pleasing configuration of hair that humans go nuts over.

Ariel: Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat? / Wouldn’t ya think my collection’s complete / Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl / Girl who has everything / Look at this trove, treasures untold / How many wonders can one cavern hold? / Looking around you’d think / Sure, she’s got everything / I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty / I have whoozits and whatzis galore / You want thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty / But who cares? No big deal / I want more.

I have a few reliable fall-back gluten-free cake recipes that I always use. However, I wanted to add a hazelnut twist to a chocolate cupcake, and to do that I wanted to add both hazelnut meal (to get a little crunch) and hazelnut butter (to disburse and reinforce the flavor). I had to change the amount of liquid, oil, and flours to accommodate for the nut butter addition to the recipe, and I honestly wasn’t sure what was going to happen when I put these babies into the oven. When I was finally brave enough (and couldn’t stand the suspense anymore!) I peeked into the oven…and the cupcakes had risen beautifully, created lovely cracked tops, and didn’t show any signs of sinking down middle syndrome! They are a little dense because of the hazelnut butter, but dense in a good way, if you know what I mean. Like, nutella-dense. Mmm.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcake Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1/3 cup hazelnut butter
1/4 cup tapioca flour
2 Tblsp. ground flax seed
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup toasted hazelnut meal
1/3 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/2 tsp. xantham gum
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Pre-heat your oven to 350┬║ F. Place cupcake wrappers in a muffin tin. Set aside.

Measure out your almond milk into a medium sized bowl, and add the vinegar. Mix vigorously, and set aside to curdle. Once it is curdled, add the oil, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract and mix to combine.

In a large bowl, sift the tapioca flour, cocoa powder, sorghum flour, quinoa flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the xantham gum, flax seed, and hazelnut meal. Stir together so everything is evenly distributed.

Create a well in the dry ingredients, and pour the wet mix into it. Mix with an electric mixer, or by hand with a whisk until there are no lumps. Because this is a gluten-free recipe, you don’t have to worry about mixing too much. Once there are no more lumps, add the hazelnut butter by the spoonful, and continue mixing until the batter reaches a smooth consistency.

Fill your cupcake tins about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Sebastian: Ariel, please! Will you get your head out of the clouds and back in the water where it belongs?

Look at these beautiful brown toasty hazelnuts:

Ariel: I’ve never seen a human this close before. Oh… he’s very handsome, isn’t he?
[Scuttle looks at the dog and scratches his neck]
Scuttle: I don’t know, he looks kind of hairy and slobbery to me.
Ariel: No, not that one. The one playing the snarfblatt.

Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup Earth Balance shortening, room temperature
3/4 cup Tofutti Cream Cheese, room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

Beat the margarine, shortening, and cream cheese together with an electric mixer. When you have a smooth, fluffy consistency, add the vanilla bean paste and confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time. Mix until fully combined. Add more sugar if you want a thicker frosting, but be aware that it can get quite sweet quickly!

I piped the frosting directly onto the cupcakes, and then sprinkled some extra hazelnut meal on top to make a pretty addition, as well as add some extra flair and crunch to every bite.

Sebastian: Down here all the fish is happy / As off to the waves they roll / The fish on the land ain’t happy / They sad ’cause they in the bowl / But fish in the bowl is lucky / They in for a worser fate / One day when the boss get hungry…
Fish: Guess who gonna be on the plate?

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8 Responses to “Under The Sea”


  1. 1 sari July 23, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    mmm, looks yummy. Me and Julie had a good little mermaid singing moment last weekend in the car.

  2. 2 mihl July 25, 2010 at 2:35 am

    Hazelnuts are my favourite kind of nut ever. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  3. 3 Kate July 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you for that Ariel flashback and for making my tummy so happy yesterday…and tonight! I’m saving the last one for dessert while watching the Mad Men premiere!

  4. 4 JoLynn-dreaminitvegan July 30, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Perfect cupcakes! Thanks for this recipe the less wheat my son consumes the better.

  5. 5 JoLynn-dreaminitvegan July 30, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Oh one more thing. Can you make your own hazelnut meal in a processor or is it best to buy it and where?

    • 6 Tessa July 30, 2010 at 3:34 pm

      Hi JoLynn! You can make your own hazelnut meal in a food processor — that’s what I did. You just have to find the perfect balance of smooth, even consistency of ground nut and stop the processor before it turns into hazelnut butter! This recipe is especially delicious if you toast the hazelnuts in the oven before grinding them. Please let me know how they come out!

  6. 7 BitterSweet August 2, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Oh no, now I have that song stuck in my head…. Augh! Must drown it out with the taste of these cupcakes! That only seems fair… ;)


  1. 1 Capresso Coffee Grinders - Six Tips for a Great Coffee Wedding Favor | Capresso Burr Coffee Grinder, Capresso Coffee Grinder Trackback on July 29, 2010 at 10:44 pm

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