I’m sharing this patriotic recipe with you today just in time for next week’s big 4th of July celebration! It’s one of my favorite holidays, for the both the food and the chance to celebrate and rejoice in our country’s liberty.
With berries at their peak and so many delicious fresh ingredients coming into season, July ushers in a few months of great eats and presents us with the perfect opportunity to load our plates with smart choices. But of course, every holiday celebration leaves a little wiggle room for treats, right?
I am in love with these cupcakes! I think I’ll be making them all summer long. Speckled with fresh berries, the cupcakes themselves are made of blanched almond flour for a light, mild flavor. What really gets me excited, though, is the frosting. For a few months, I’ve been trying to come up with a dairy-free, soy-free, coconut-based frosting that had just the right structure. Using chilled coconut milk alone resulted in more of a “whipped cream” texture, while an all-cashew frosting was richer and denser than my ideal result.
The solution? A cross between the two. Using both coconut milk and cashews yields a just-right frosting that pipes beautifully and truly reminds me of “regular” dairy-based frosting.
Light and dainty, mini cupcakes are the perfect festive dessert for summer gatherings because you can eat them with your hands in just a bite or two. (And because they’re small, you can feel a little less guilty about grabbing seconds.)
No matter the time of year, I try to incorporate fresh fruit into my desserts. It’s a great way to add natural sweetness, a little extra nutrition, and a touch of seasonality. In the treasure chest of seasonal produce, fresh berries are the glittering jewels. Savor them while they last.
Festive Independence Day desserts are my favorite ones to make. Something about this time of year just puts everyone in a good mood, which makes it that much more fun to share delicious food together. If cupcakes aren’t your thing or you’d rather not fire up the oven, you might like to try some Berry Bliss Ice Cream or Chocolate Banana Ice Cream Pops instead.
Mini Red, White, & Blueberry Cupcakes
Makes 12 mini cupcakes
For the frosting:
2/3 cup raw cashews, covered with water and soaked at room temperature for 3-4 hours
3 tablespoons honey, divided use
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (13.5-ounce) can full fat coconut milk (see note below), refrigerated at least 24 hours
For the cupcakes:
1 cup (96 grams) blanched almond flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg
¼ cup honey
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
¼ cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
¼ cup fresh blueberries
Make the frosting: Drain the cashews well and place them in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add 2 tablespoons of the honey, 2 tablespoons water, and vanilla. Process until smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes, stopping often to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. (You can also use a high speed blender such a Vita Mix to make this.)
Open the chilled can of coconut milk. Scoop the cream from the top of the can into a large bowl, being careful to leave behind the coconut water that has settled at the bottom of the can. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of honey to the coconut cream. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on high speed for 1-2 minutes. Add half of the cashew cream and beat on high to combine. Then add the remaining cashew cream and beat on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 12 cups of a mini muffin pan with mini paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking soda, and salt. Separately whisk together the egg, honey, and lemon zest. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the berries.
Divide the batter among the lined muffin cups. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely. Frost and serve.
Ingredient Note: In my experience, the best brands of coconut milk to use for this frosting are Thai Kitchen (organic) and Native Forest. Other brands have not separated into thick cream and coconut water as reliably as these.