It seems like everyone’s tomato plants are bursting with red ripe tomatoes of all sizes. I’ve been making lots of fresh tomato salads and sauces, and eating them plain right off the vine. What a glorious hot summer treat!
Last year, I made Tomato Cupcakes for a tomato party that I hosted at my apartment. This year, my friends Rachel, Dia, and Kelly hosted their own tomato party, but this time with a little twist; their garden was overflowing with cherry tomatoes, so it was really a Cherry Tomato Party! I’ve been super busy and didn’t feel like I had time to experiment with creating a completely new tomato-based dessert recipe, so I just adapted my Tomato Cupcake recipe from last year. Because of the cherry tomato theme, I baked these in mini cupcake tins, so they were small and cute like the tiny tomatoes that we were celebrating. I also made them gluten-free for one of the hosts.
I based my recipe on the Chocolate Gluten Freedom Cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, but I adapted the recipe to add tomato into it so it would be similar to the tomato-chocolate cake recipe from one of my favorite children’s books Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco. In this story, a young girl visits her grandmother’s farm and is frightened by the loud thunder that she hears at the beginning of an oncoming midwest thunderstorm. She hides under the bed in fear, until her grandmother coaxes her out by the promise of baking a delicious chocolate cake. She sends the child around the farm to collect all the ingredients, and she has to count the seconds between thunder and lightning to make sure she’ll get home before the storm really hits. They bake the cake and get to eat it just as the rain starts pouring down outside their cozy farmhouse. It is a very sweet story with a sweet ending – the recipe is included in the back of the book! The secret ingredient in this cake is the tomato puree that they put into it, and I used to make this cake when I was growing up all the time (along with the Lightnight Cake from Joy of Cooking). Last year, I simply veganized it, but this year wanted to make it gluten-free as well.
Unlike many gluten-free desserts, these came out light and fluffy and you couldn’t even tell they were gluten-free. I think this had a lot to do with the tapioca flour, which I’ll be using more since I liked the outcome so much! The cakes were decidedly chocolatey and you couldn’t really taste the tomato in the batter – next time I might work on this a little bit, to see if I can get the flavor to come out a little more. The tomato paste in the frosting has a stronger taste, but it’s sweet and combines with the cream cheese nicely (bagels with cream cheese and tomatoes on top are delicious, why not in frosting form?). The idea of tomato paste in the frosting seems to put everyone off from them before they taste it, but after the first bite they are addicted – I think everyone ate at least two of these little cupcake poppers!
Gluten-Free Chocolate Tomato Cupcake Ingredients:
2 large ripe red tomatoes
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350*F and line muffin tray with cupcake liners, or grease the pan well.
Blend your tomatoes in a blender or food processor. You only need 1 cup of this tomato puree, so you can measure that out and set aside.
In a measuring cup, combine almond milk and vinegar. Set aside to curdle for a few minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of tomato puree, canola oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix with an electric mixer on medium speed to make sure the sugar is thoroughly combined. Add the almond milk/vinegar mixture and stir in.
In a medium bowl, combine all the flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift this dry mix into your wet mix. Mix on medium-high for about 2 minutes. It’s important to mix really well and you don’t have to worry about over-mixing because there is no gluten.
Fill cupcake tins a little over three-quarters full. These won’t rise as much as traditional cupcakes so you can fill them a little more than usual.
If you use a regular muffin tin, then bake for 20-23 minutes. If you used a mini muffin pan, bake for 10-13 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted through the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and margarine together with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy and smooth. Add the tomato paste and continue beating. You can add more or less tomato paste, depending on your flavor preference. Add the confectioner’s sugar into the bowl a quarter cup at a time, beating well in between each addition. When smooth, you can spread the frosting onto the tops of your cupcakes. I topped mine with some cherry tomato stems.