It’s summer time, or at least it’s close to summer time. Portland summers are usually confined to about 2.5 weeks in August so you gotta do what you can to, um, help summer along.
For me summer means flip flops, sunshine and porches, fresh fruit, moscato wine and tropical drinks. It also means birthdays as it seems most of my friends here were born during the months of summer or just on its outskirts. A few days ago was one of these said birthdays, so I took the opportunity to break out my long abandoned cupcake pan and go to work.
I’m always thinking of different ways I can throw a cupcake together. Actually I have this long, two sided, water stained list of cupcakes I’ve thought of but have yet to put into reality. One of these ideas included mangoes and lime zest and sounded like a perfect cupcake for a summer(ish) birthday.
Mango Margarita Cupcakes
- 1 very ripe mango
- 1/2 C soy milk
- 1 t apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 C AP flour
- 2 T cornstarch
- 3/4 t baking powder
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/4 C tequila
- 2 T orange juice
- 1/3 C canola oil
- 3/4 C organic sugar
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1/4 t coconut extract
As usual, oven to 350, line your cupcake pan with liners.
Then prepare the mango. Peel the skin off the mango and then cut the flesh away from its large and obtuse seed. My mango was so ripe it was almost falling off the seed so I just chopped it up on a cutting board. If your mango isn’t so ripe you might have to puree it.
In your mixing bowl, stir together the soy milk and vinegar and set it aside to curdle.
While the milk is doing its thing, scale out all your dry ingredients in another small bowl.
Now add the mango, tequila, orange juice, oil, sugar, zest and extracts to the curdled milk and whisk it well. You can use the KitchenAid for this but I just did by hand. Sift in the dry ingredients in two stages so you don’t overwork the gluten; you don’t need to fully incorporate the flour before adding the second half. I folded in the flour and then used a whisk at the end to break up some of the lumps.
Scoop the batter into your prepared cupcake pan. I used a 1/4 cup scoop, which resulted in 12 normal sized cupcakes and 5 mini cupcakes. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they’re springy and the toothpick comes out clean. Let stand for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
- 4 oz vegan stick butter, softened (1 stick)
- 4 oz extra firm silken tofu (Mori-Nu)
- Juice from 1 lime
- Zest from 2 limes
- Small splash of vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Powdered sugar
The main reason why I don’t experiment with cupcakes more often, aside from their caloric content, is the price of the buttercream. Vegan stick butter is almost $6 a pound. Seriously. And then to get a decent texture/ flavor you really need vegan cream cheese, which can be close to $8 a pound. Since my pockets aren’t very deep these days, I’ve been playing around with alternatives, and this tofu buttercream is definitely a keeper. It still uses the expensive butter but I ixnayed the cream cheese. And nobody will ever know you fed them straight up tofu. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Since it’s tofu you can’t just throw it in the KitchenAid, you have to puree it first. So, press some of the liquid out of the tofu with a kitchen or paper towel. Then toss it in a blender with the lime juice and the butter. You can add the zest here too if you like. Blend it on a lower speed until it’s well combined and uniform. It’ll look like it’s broken (aka wet and weepy). Transfer the mixture to your KitchenAid or large mixing bowl and add the salt, vanilla and lime zest if you didn’t already. Beat in the powdered sugar until you reach a thick and fluffy consistency, I probably used around 4 cups.
Keep the buttercream well covered either with plastic wrap or in a piping bag until you’re ready to use. Unlike meringue based buttercreams, vegan buttercreams dry out super fast.
Candied Orange Peel
- 1 large orange
- Simple syrup
- Organic sugar
If you have a citrus zester, use it to zest long strips of peel off the orange. If you don’t have a zester, peel the orange with a vegetable peeler (these work great) and then cut strips out of the peels with a knife. Place the zest in a small pan and cover with water. Bring it to a boil and then drain the water. Repeat this two more times and then poach the zest in some simple syrup for 5 – 10 minutes, or until it’s pleasantly chewable.
Simple syrup, in case you don’t know, is just equal parts sugar and water. Place it in a pan and heat it up until the sugar dissolves. You’re done.
After you poach the zest, drain it and then toss it with some sugar and spread it out on a plate to dry. Toss is around every few minutes to make sure it’s all drying and evenly coated in sugar.
Candied orange, or lemon, zest will keep for a very long time in an air tight container, so you could do a big batch of it and keep it on hand if you wanted. You can candy lime zest too but it looses its pretty green color and turns into something that looks like a soggy old canned green bean.
I used an 808 tip to get the big mounds of frosting. A bigger tip would have been even better but I wasn’t about to make myself have to wash another pastry bag (I use the reusable bags).
These cupcakes were delicious! You get just a hint of the tequila towards the end of your bite, and the tropical citrusy flavors are bright and refreshing. And I really like the icing. The tofu does a superb job at balancing out all that fat and sugar. These would be excellent for a margarita night!