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Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

I won’t pretend to have an excuse for not posting anything to this blog for the last, ahem, 5 months. I have some excuses of course but they’re trivial (like being busy/ worn out from work and not having a photo studio at home… aka laziness). I wasn’t planning on blogging at all until I had a stockpile of posts to put up here as I hate blogging and then going awol for a long time, but I figured it was time to finally break the silence. And I have pictures of a cute cake to post.

I was co-hostess for a friend’s baby shower last weekend, and since I’m now a baker the cake fell onto my list of responsibilities. We decided to do a forest animal themed shower, and while perusing the internet for ideas I came across the tree stump cake and thought that was an excellent idea!!

The cake itself is based off the carrot cupcakes from VCTOTW, but I modified the flour and spices, ixnayed the raisins and added figs (wonderful texture contributor!). A word of caution, carrot cake is DENSE, and doesn’t rise very much in the oven. Originally I made a 3 times batch of cupcakes thinking that would be plenty for my 8 and 9 inch cake pans. WRONG! I had to go back to the drawing board and make another 2 times batch. So, that there cake you see above, it’s equivalent to 60 cupcakes. 60. Seriously. And damn, it was heavy. I had a wrist ache after putting the base coating of icing on.

Don't you just love the owl?! He was my favorite. I wanted to keep him.

All the animals and what not are made out of marzipan. And no, I don’t mean that small, overpriced box of preserved crap you find at the local Kroger. If people knew how easy this stuff is to make they would never buy it in ready to use form. Marzipan is simply almond paste, powdered sugar and corn syrup. I absolutely cringed when I bought the bottle of corn syrup (can you say GMO???) but I at least splurged and got the non-high fructose corn syrup stuff. I’m sure you could sub brown rice syrup or maybe even honey, but you’ll have to play with the amount as the consistency will be different.

He's supposed to be a fox but I think he looks more like a squirrel.

As for the almond paste, you can also buy that in ready to use form at specialty baking stores. Or, you can save yourself $15 and make it yourself (of course). There are a bunch of variations of almond paste out there but I went with this one. And you can totally make this several days or even weeks in advance and store it, wrapped tightly, in the fridge.

Shrooms!

Here’s the marzipan recipe:

  • 8oz almond paste
  • 8oz powdered sugar (10x)
  • 2oz corn syrup

Use the paddle attachment and mix the almond paste and 10x in your stand mixer. Add just enough corn syrup to make the almond paste moldable, but it shouldn’t be sticky. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap.

The bear has pudgy little arms, like a baby!

So coloring the marzipan is where you end up breaking all your culinary ethics and buying a box of Wilton icing colors. I hate fake things. Especially fake things that have high fructose corn syrup in them, but there’s really no other way to get all these colors (which makes me think I need to develop some healthy coloring alternatives…). I rarely make cake or cupcakes with non-natural colors because I hate using that stuff, but this was a special occasion that I felt warranted me going against my food morals.

My grumpy, fat little chipmunk, guarding his acorns.

So, to color the marzipan, you take small blobs of it, grab a toothpick and dip it into the color you want and then stab the marzipan blob all over. Then knead it with your hands until the color is no longer tie-dye but uniform. You’ll most likely have to keep adding and adding color to achieve your desired results, especially if you’re wanting a deep red or black. Start small as you can always add more color.

Ladybugs!

As you can see, I did a lot of hand kneading of the marzipan. It was so much fun though. I had such a great time making all the little figures. I suggest latex gloves, or something similar. The colors will wash off but it can get messy. I need to work on not getting my fingerprints all over the figures, but I think these turned out just fine for my maiden voyage.

I made chocolate cupcakes too. Seems the daddy to be doesn’t really like cake but he likes cupcakes… (I don’t get it either). It’s ok though. I tried to make them look mossy. The green on top is just crumbled up vanilla cake, the same stuff I used for my “grass” around the tree stump.

I also made chocolates for the party (yes, I was a little worn out by the time everything was said and done). The ones in the back are meant to be like the Rocher truffles, there’s a hazelnut in the middle, chocolate ganache, vanilla wafer pieces, chocolate and then cocoa powder. The filled chocolates have either caramel or crisp rice in them, and the clusters in front are just chocolate and crisp rice (word to the wise, make sure you have enough chocolate before trying to make filled chocolates… or you’ll end up making clusters :)).

And, just in case you’re wondering, everything here is completely vegan.

Well, I hope to be frequenting my blog more often. I have tons of ideas but finding time (and money) to actualize them isn’t always so easy. What I REALLY need is a nice little SLR camera and a photo studio my cats won’t tear apart, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. I also find myself making more savory food at home these days rather than sweet, so there’s a high possibility this “baking” blog might yield slightly into a more general food blog, but that’s not necessarily the end of the world is it?

Anyway, until the next time, have a great day and happy baking!

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So last week I had this little peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough extravaganza. And as promised, here’s the cake ball piece of it.

I don’t pretend to be an expert in the art of making cake balls. I can’t honestly say I’ve ever managed to do it correctly. Bakerella makes it look so damn easy, but every time I make them I end up cussing at my cake balls as they slide off the sticks and go kerplunk into a chocolately abyss and make a mess all over everything. The likely culprit I think is that I ALWAYS use too much frosting. I try every time to be sparing but I continually over do it. I still managed to take a couple of decent photos however so here you go.

Just a quick word on the dipping chocolate. The chocolate shell I use is what people normally dip Hi Hat cupcakes in. It appears that most people use these Candy Melts from Wilton when making cake balls (that’s how they get all those vibrant colors). I refuse to use those however because they contain partially hydrogenated oil – meaning they have that nasty trans fat in them (among all the other bad for you ingredients). If that doesn’t bother you go ahead and try them, it might make the dipping easier (I don’t know). The baking chocolate bark stuff might work well too, I’ve not tried it yet so I can’t attest to its functionality – nor do I know if it’s vegan.

Cookie Dough Stuffed Cake Balls (vegan)

Cookie Dough

Alright, so the quantity of everything depends on how many cake balls you want to end up with. When I made the cookie dough I also used it for cookies and ice cream, so I’m guessing I only used 1/4 or less of the total dough for the cake balls. Whatever amount you decide to have, roll nickle-sized balls of dough with your hands (about 2 chocolate chips per ball is a good size reference) and place them in the freezer for about an hour or so. If you decide to use popsicle or lollipop sticks, I’d stick them into the cookie dough before freezing (I think this will actually keep the stinkin things on the sticks during dipping). You obviously don’t have to put the cake balls on sticks, but I don’t know how people manage to dip them in chocolate otherwise.

Chocolate Cake

I made a 1/2 batch of the chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. You can find the recipe by clicking on the link above. Though I made 6 cupcakes, I piped a bunch of buttercream on one of them and gave it to my husband, so I only used 5 cupcakes worth of cake for my cake balls. Obviously I don’t expect you to make 5/12ths of a batch of cupcakes, so you just might end up having more balls than me.

Bake the cake or cupcakes and let them cool completely. Once cool, mash them up in a mixing bowl and add the frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 C vegan stick butter
  • 2+ C powdered sugar
  • 2 T soy or almond milk
  • 3/4 t vanilla extract

Cream the butter in a mixing bowl. Add the milk and extract. Add some of the sugar of whip. Keep adding sugar and whipping until you reach a good, thick consistency. A hand blender or stand mixer will save you time here, unless you want a good arm workout of course.

This is way more frosting than you’ll need for the cake balls by the way, unless you’re making a large batch of them. You honestly need less than half of what this makes so just use your best judgement (whatever that means).

Plop a dollop of frosting into the bowl with the smashed up cake and mix it in. Start small or you’ll end up with slippery balls like me. It needs to be gooey enough to stick together, but not so greasy that it clings to your hands when rolling.

Once you’ve got it where you want it grab the dough balls out of the freezer and roll the cake around them. If you didn’t already put sticks them this part is pretty easy. If you did put sticks in them you’ll have to get a little creative to get the cake sufficiently around the cookie dough. The 5 cupcakes I made were the perfect amount to cover 12 balls of cookie dough (just fyi). Stick them back in the freezer once they’re all rolled for at least 30 minutes (longer would be better).

Chocolate Shell

  • 5 – 6oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 & 1/2 T canola oil

If you’re making more than 12 cake balls, you’ll need more chocolate. Error on the side of too much chocolate as it will stay good quite awhile in the fridge.

In a double boiler (or the microwave if necessary), melt the chocolate. Mix in the oil and transfer to a deep but narrow container (I used a plastic take-out container common at Thai restaurants). Let it cool a minute or two before dipping the cake balls.

Dipping and Rolling

Crush up about 1/4 cup of peanuts and spread them out on a plate.

Gather the tub of chocolate, a spoon and the cake balls. If they’re on sticks, dip them carefully into the chocolate while simultaneously holding your breath and hoping they don’t slide off. Use the spoon to help spread the chocolate all around the cake ball. Allow the excess chocolate to drip off. Roll the cake ball in the crushed up peanuts, or use your hand to sprinkle them on top, let it dry a few seconds and then place it on a plate or tray of some sort. Stick them back in the freezer for a few minutes once you’re finished dipping and rolling so that they harden all the way.

Retrieve from freezer. Bite. Enjoy.

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Can you call this multi-tasking? Making 4 desserts out of 1? Or maybe it’s just plain craziness. Or creative boredom put to work. Whatever it is it tastes good, and now I have a whole bunch of sweets begging to be eaten.

I wasn’t out of school more than 2 days before I started thinking of something I could bake. We’ve been on a cupcake spree the last few weeks in my house so I thought it was time for some cookies. Peanut butter chocolate chippers happen to be one of my husband’s favorites. But I thought as long as I’m making cookie dough I might as well make cookie dough ice cream. During my run on Tuesday I thought I could also make cookie dough stuffed cake balls (of course!). Then when I was making the ice cream it occurred to me that ice cream sandwiches would be a great idea (it is summer after all). I thought about putting icing in the ice cream sandwiches as well, and then maybe dipping the whole thing in chocolate, but something told me to stop while I was ahead. =)

I’m actually going to save the cake ball part for another post, otherwise this sucker will be forever long and nobody will read it all. But ice cream and cookies are simple enough.

The cookie dough needs to be frozen before you can make the ice cream, but the ice cream for the sandwiches needs to be really frozen before they can be made so perhaps it’s best to start with the ice cream.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Ice Cream (vegan)

  • 6oz extra firm silk tofu (Mori-Nu)
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 3/4 C organic sugar
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 shot (3 T) light rum
  • Cookie dough (below)

Toss everything except the cookie dough in your blender and puree until super smooth. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze accordingly.

Once frozen, put about 2/3rds of the ice cream in one container and the other 1/3rd in another. Place both containers in the freezer. We’ll add the cookie dough later.

Typically I use a mixture of soy and coconut milk when making ice cream, but I wanted to see how coconut would do on its own. And it did way better than the combination has ever done. Even though I used light coconut this ice cream is very creamy, especially compared to my typical soy milk based ice creams. Plus it simplifies everything as I always end up freezing a portion of the coconut milk, which I forget is in the freezer the next time I need it and open up another can, which also ends up in the freezer (you see where I’m going with this).

Enough babble, onto the cookies!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (vegan)

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

  • 1/2 C vegan butter (stick or tub will work)
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C organic sugar
  • 1 T ground flax seed
  • 3 T hot water

Whisk the flax seed and hot water in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars together in a large bowl, then mix in the flax mixture.

Blend the flour, baking powder, soda and salt together then add them to the wet ingredients and mix briefly. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Go ahead and make the cookie dough balls or the ice cream. You want about 3/4 C worth of balls, or enough to about cover the surface area in one of those square plastic containers that sandwiches fit in. You want to keep the dough balls small so my way of doing this was to only use enough dough to enclose 1 chocolate chip per ball. Roll them up in your hands and stick them in the freezer.

Now, line two 1/2 sheet pans with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Scoop the dough into 1 or so inch mounds and plop them on the pans about an inch apart. These cookies don’t spread much during baking so if you want a flatter, crisper cookie smash it down a bit before baking. And you can always make them much larger than an inch of course.

Bake for about 11 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let them rest about 5 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack.

The cookie dough should freeze up enough within an hour, so once that time has passed take them and the larger portion of ice cream out of the freezer. Chop about half of the dough balls up to make them smaller and allow more opportunity for cookie dough in every bite! Mix them into the ice cream, distributing as thoroughly as possible and put it back in the freezer.

There. You’re done.

Oh but wait, there’s more! Those ice cream sandwiches won’t make themselves!

Ice Cream Sandwiches (vegan)

  • Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate for dipping (optional)
  • Plastic wrap

Grab as many cookies as you’d like for sandwiches. Retrieve the plain vanilla ice cream from the freezer. Tear off roughly 12 square inch sheets of plastic wrap – one for each sandwich – and lay them on a table or work surface. You can get about 5 – 6 sandwiches out of the ice cream, but that depends on how much ice cream you put in each sandwich…

Take a scoop of ice cream and plop it on top of a cookie. Place another cookie on top and press it down so that the ice cream reaches the edges of the cookies; use the back of a spoon to help guide and smooth it. Now, place the sandwich on the plastic wrap so that the ice cream is touching the plastic. Roll the plastic wrap up with the sandwich and then twist the ends of the plastic. This is kind of what you’re going for, just not so long, and obviously not butter. Place them in the freezer to set.

Once they are set, you can roll them in crushed up chocolate, peanuts, coconut, what have you. I decided to dip mine in chocolate, which turned out to be problematic as the chocolate did not want to stick to the ice cream. It turned out alright in the end though, just a tad bumpy. If you decide to dip them in chocolate you’ll need about half of what Bakerella has in this recipe.

Well, I guess that does it. The cake balls will be appearing at some point in the near future (promise). And on a side note, you can make all this gluten-free simply by using a gluten-free flour mixture. Bob’s Red Mill sells one but the following will also do the job.

Gluten-free flour mixture (equal to 1 cup of normal flour)

  • 1/3 C quinoa or millet flour
  • 1/4 C almond meal
  • 1/3 C brown or white rice flour
  • 3 T potato or tapioca starch
  • 1 T ground flaxseed

Do keep in mind that GF flours tend to have a grainy texture before being baked, so this could affect your cookie dough ice cream slightly.

Well I didn’t intend for this post to be 4th of July centric but my backdrop in the photos is somewhat patriotic. That was an accident honestly, even though Independence Day is around the corner. It’s actually one of my grandmother’s old shirts. Yes, I use clothing for backdrops. And sometimes even covers from my couch pillows. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

But never mind that, what kind of shenanigans are you baking up this 4th of July weekend?

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So there are a lot of pluses to husbands. They open car doors for you, take out the trash, make excellent margaritas and even do the laundry (at least mine does).  Some husbands even provide inspiration for cupcakes, albeit in the form of a cavity-causing sugar addiction. My husband happens to be quite fond of the Take 5 candy bar. He’s a big fan of chocolate and peanut butter, so things just get even better when you add more peanuts, caramel and pretzels.

So, as is usual for my baking endeavors, one night at like 2am or something I got the idea to turn the Take 5 into a cupcake. My first attempt… one big cluster. Overfilled the cupcake liners, caramel was oozing out everywhere, they looked like some sort of crappy abstract impressionist painting, only I’m guessing they tasted better.

But one cannot be defeated by her oven. When I saw that Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious were holding their annual ice cream cupcake contest, I thought it was time for round two. And round two turned out to be quite yummy. Maybe even yummier since there’s ice cream involved. And it’s vegan, which makes it better in my book. So here’s my version of the Take 5 candy bar, reinvented in cupcake form, with ice cream:

Take 6 Cupcake (vegan)

So there’s a few shortcuts you can take on this if you want, like buying pre-made ice cream, frosting, caramel and chocolate sauce, but I like to make things myself. So while it looks like a forever list of ingredients and steps, it’s really not that bad and I promise you it’s worth your time.

For the Ice Cream

  • 1 & 3/4 C coconut milk (canned, I used light)
  • 6oz extra firm silken tofu
  • 1/2 C organic sugar
  • 1/4 C agave nectar
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 shot (3 T) rum, brandy or vodka

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree. You can leave the liquor out of course, but I find it keeps the ice cream from turning into a solid block of inedible hardness in the freezer. Pour the ice cream mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the instructions. Mine takes about 25+ minutes, plus additional freezer time. Pop it into the freezer while you’re doing everything else. In fact, it’s probably best if you make the ice cream a day in advance so it doesn’t melt all over your pretty cupcakes while your patience is getting the best of you.

 For the Caramel

I borrowed Cookies and Candids’ caramel recipe from this post.

  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 C vegan butter
  • 1/4 C almond or soy milk

Combine all the ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium/ medium+ heat, stirring constantly. Let it cook for about 10 minutes; it will start to thicken, reduce and resemble caramel. Set it aside for now.

For the Cupcake

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Chop or crush about 1/2 C of peanuts and set aside. Do the same to 1 cup of pretzels, and also set them aside.

  • 1 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 C cocoa
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • pinch of nutmeg

Sift together the dry ingredients into a small bowl and set aside.

  • 1 C ice cream (from above)
  • 1/4 C almond or soy milk
  • 1/4 C canola oil
  • 1/4 C organic sugar
  • 2 T agave
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t almond extract

In a large mixing bowl, or your stand mixer, combine a cup of the ice cream and all the other wet ingredients. If you were proactive and made your ice cream the day before, it’s probably best if you took it out of the freezer a few minutes before you started making the cupcakes. You can, of course, just use milk instead of ice cream, but I thought it would be fun to incorporate the ice cream inside the cupcake instead of just on top. If you do forgo the ice cream in the batter, be sure to up the ante on the other sugars.

Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix until few, if any, lumps remain. Place a couple tablespoons of batter in each cupcake well, then pour in a bit of the caramel (1 – 2 T). You should have about half of the caramel left over after this (you’ll need it later). If you don’t have any caramel left, just make some more.

Fill the liners about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full with the rest of the batter. Stir the batter with a toothpick to distribute the caramel around (or just forget like I did and nobody will know the difference). Divide the chopped peanuts amongst the 12 soon-to-be cupcakes, and if you’re feeling chocolately add some chocolate chips too. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the Icing

I know, I know. You’re thinking this recipe is NEVER going to end, but I promise we’re getting close.

  • 1/4 C vegan stick butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 C peanut butter
  • 2 & 1/2 T almond or soy milk
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • ~ 2 & 1/2 C powdered sugar

So these measurements are typically what I’d make for a half batch of cupcakes, but you aren’t using a whole lot of icing on these since you’re also putting ice cream on them. If you feel like getting all crazy with the icing go ahead and double it, but you probably won’t need it.

Cream together the butter and peanut butter. Add the vanilla and milk. Add the sugar about 1/2 cup at a time until you reach the desired consistency. If your cupcakes haven’t cooled yet you can place the icing in the fridge. If they are cool go ahead place a large star tip in your pastry bag and fill it up with the frosting. Pipe it onto the cupcakes.

Alrighty, this is where I almost screwed everything up. I get kind of excited when I bake things and I never want to wait for anything to cool completely. My ice cream cupcakes about turned into ice cream floats, but I managed to get the little guys back into the freezer before too much harm was done.

Take an ice cream scoop and put a scoop of ice cream on top of each cupcake, then sprint across the kitchen and put them straight into the freezer.

There’s probably a better way to get the pretzels on the ice cream, like putting them in while it was freezing, but I tend to do things the hard way first time around. Grab the crushed up pretzels and do your damnedest to get them on the ice cream without spewing them everywhere.

Stick the cupcakes back in the freezer once they are all pretzelified. The ice cream really needs to be frozen before the next step so wait several hours or overnight.

Once it is totally frozen, warm the caramel back up until it’s liquid again, but don’t boil it. It needs to be thin enough to drizzle but still be thick enough to not slide all over your cupcakes. You also need to get the chocolate shell together.

Chocolate Shell

I used a half batch of the chocolate shell recipe from Bakerella’s Hi Hat cupcakes, and you’ll probably still have some left over, depending how covered you decide your cupcakes should be.

  • Roughly 5oz chocolate chips
  • 1 to 1 & 1/2 T canola oil

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler, or the microwave if you must. Add the oil and stir it in. Let the chocolate cool a bit before applying it to the cupcakes. Now, go grab your nicely frozen cupcakes out of the freezer. Get the bowl of caramel and the bowl of melted chocolate. Drizzle the caramel on each cupcake with a spoon. Do the same with the chocolate, starting with the first cupcake you put the caramel on as it should have hardened by now. Place the cupcakes back in the freezer, again.

You know, I knew this was a lot of work but it seems MUCH worse now that I’m typing it all out… Oh well. Honestly, if you get all the parts made first, which will really only take about an hour or so, it’s just a matter of waiting and walking to the freezer; really not that bad.

Anyway, you can call it quits at this point but I wanted a finishing touch. You should still have some icing left over so grab your pastry bag and pipe a small dab of icing on each of the cupcakes (yes this means you have to get them out of the freezer, again). Be sure to let the chocolate set before this step or you’ll make a mess out of of the top of Mount St. Cupcake. Then take 12 pretzels and dip them in the melted chocolate (not at the same time of course). Let some of the excess chocolate drip off before placing it into the dab of icing.

There. You’re done. Finally.

I’m not just saying this because I made these and I really want to win this contest, but these things taste freaking spectacular.The first time I mentioned the idea of a Take 5 cupcake to my friends they thought it would be way too sweet, but they surprisingly aren’t. The small amount of frosting combined with the extra salt in the batter and salt from the peanuts and pretzels really balances everything out. My husband and I have been eating these for about a week and neither of us are tired of them yet.

And, as an added bonus, they’re flexible. One day at school my chef instructor planted this idea in my head that my stacked version wasn’t quite what an ice cream cupcake should be. There is more than one way to stack a cupcake of course, so I tried doing a condensed version to see which one I liked better. Here’s version 2 of the Take 6 cupcake (same ingredients).

This one is good in a gooey-ice cream sundae-I got a sweet tooth that must be fixed right now-and I don’t mind getting caramel and chocolate all over my hands sort of way. Even though it’s all the same stuff, it’s just not the same. The lessened amount of cake and increased quantity of sweet ingredients throws the balance off. But it’s still an ice cream cupcake so who the hell cares. =) I think if I were selling them I’d perhaps go with the condensed version to ease transport, but my bakery has a few years before it’s gonna open (like probably 7).

Same as the previous version, just reversed the chocolate and buttercream.

I’m honestly not very competitive, so I don’t typically jump into contests or challenges, but I like baking and winning a whole bunch of dessert cook books sounds like a fantastic reason to make some cupcakes (not that I really ever need a reason). Aside from Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious, there are three food bloggers judging the contest. If you’re curious what makes them so special, hop on over to their blogs and take a look-see for yourself.

What’s your favorite cake and ice cream combination? I think it’s possible that the only time most of us see this decadent duo is during birthday celebrations, but honestly it’s far too awesome of a dessert to only have once a year. If you decide to hop into your kitchen and put your ice cream cupcake fingers to work, let me know how it goes!

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Assuming that the DQ doesn’t only exist in the south (I think I’ve seen it in Ptown) most of us should remember the notorious dipped ice cream cone. You know, where they take a sugary cone, top it with sugary ice cream and then magically dip the whole thing in melty chocolate and somehow the impossible occurs and the ice cream actually stays on the cone and manages to remain “frozen” long enough for you to eat it. Well there’s been some dabbling lately in the whole dipping thing, but using cupcakes instead of ice cream cones. It’s been a long time coming – I first saw these things last November – but I finally, finally, attempted to make them.

And I succeeded!!!

I think these might possibly be the most fattening cupcakes I’ve ever created, due to the insane amount of frosting piled on top of the cupcake and the chocolately goodness that’s coating the whole damn thing, but sometimes you gotta say to hell with it! And then get up the next morning and run 8 miles. It’s a dessert – fitness balance, and I’d say these are worth every calorie.

The chocolate cupcake part comes straight from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, except I added some brandy soaked strawberries and, of course, brandy to the batter, but any cupcake recipe will do. I took the chocolate coating from Bakerella’s Hi Hat recipe.

Strawberry & Chocolate Hi Hat Cupcakes

  • 1 cup roughly chopped strawberries (organic preferably)
  • 3 T brandy or cognac

I believe I used about 2 oz hulled strawberries, but just fill up a cup and don’t worry about the oz. Pour about 3 T brandy over the strawberries, cover with lid or plastic wrap and let them sit there for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain as much of the brandy off as possible into a separate bowl.

  • Basic Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
  • 2 T brandy (from the strawberries)

Preheat the oven to 350 and make the chocolate cupcake batter as directed on the website above, but transfer 2 tablespoons of strawberry brandy to a 1/3 measuring cup and then fill the rest of it with oil instead of using an entire 1/3 cup of oil.

Once you fill the liners with batter, divide the macerated strawberries up between the 12 cupcakes, and stir them up a bit to cover with batter. You could also just mix the strawberries in with the batter and then fill the cupcake liners (that would probably be easier, though some of the strawberries would stick to the liner). Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack after they rest for about 5 minutes. Don’t worry if they sink a little bit in the middle, it’s the strawberries’ fault but nobody will notice (or care).

  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese (about 4 oz)
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine (stick form)
  • 2 tsp brandy (from the strawberries)
  • 1/4 cup strawberry puree
  • About 7 cups powdered sugar

Let the cream cheese and butter set out a bit to soften, then toss them into the stand mixer and cream them together. While creaming, use a small food processor or blender and puree some strawberries. I used 2 – 3 oz of strawberries and ended up with over 1/2 cup of puree (so less will do). Add the puree and brandy to the creamed butter and cream cheese. You can add all the sugar at once if you like, though you might find yourself in a cloud of powdered sugar if you do. I added it a cup or two at a time. 7 cups seems a bit much but I wanted to make sure the icing was thick enough to withstand the dipping. I also have a small bit left over so you could cut it back some but then you’d have all these weird measurements and who wants that?

Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. Some people use a fat, round tip. I’m cheap so I just use the hole at the end of the pastry bag (seems to make sense to me). Place the cupcakes in the freezer to harden the icing.

  • 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 T canola oil

Bakerella used the microwave but I try to use methods other than the microwave if at all possible. If you don’t have a double boiler (like me) fill a small pan halfway full of water and heat it almost to boiling on the stove. Put the chocolate chips and oil in a bowl and set it on top of the pan of water. Stir continuously until the chocolate is all melted.

Now this is where I almost had a problem. I don’t have a lot of fairly narrow but deep containers. You need to put the melted chocolate into something that’s wide enough to fit the cupcake in but has enough depth so that the cupcake doesn’t smash into the bottom. I used a tall take out container (the kind commonly found at Thai restaurants). This was about perfect size but even then the chocolate became too low after about six dips to submerge the cupcake all the way, but a little bit of tilting (of the container) and twirling (of the cupcake) worked just fine.

So, transfer the chocolate to an appropriately sized container; you can let it cool for a minute to make sure it’s not too awfully hot. Remove the cupcakes from the freezer. Pick one up. Hold your breath. Submerge it into the chocolate. Pull it out. Breath. Let the excess chocolate dribble off. Set it down and move onto the next one.

Isn’t that fun?!?! I had extra chocolate left over so I was trying to find anything I could to dip in it. Strawberries. Pretzels. Chocolate biscotti. =) I told my husband if I had known it was this easy I would have started dipping things a long time ago. But maybe it’s best that I didn’t (you can only run so many miles in the morning).

These cupcakes were for a friend’s birthday outing so I didn’t think I was going to be able to get a picture of the cross-section. But as fate would have it I was left with one little orphan cupcake, so I split him in half this morning and grabbed my camera! I wonder if our neighbors think I’m crazy when they see me out on the roof in 40 degree weather taking pictures of cupcakes?

These cupcakes were really good. I mean really good. Everybody at the table thought they were awesome. The gooey strawberry middle reminded me of those chocolate covered cherries you see at Christmas time (which gave me an idea for another cupcake).

If you dare to dip your cupcake, let me know how it goes!!

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The best thing about a birthday is the cake.  It is absolutely, utterly, undeniably and entirely impossible to have a birthday without a cake.  If you do (god forbid) have birthdays with no cakes, you need to do some finger shaking at your, ahem, loved ones.

We celebrated my fiancee’s birthday yesterday.  His real birthday isn’t until Monday, but with work and school we thought it better to do it on a Friday (which was good because it took me a @#&^@%$& long time to frost this puppy).  While most people sit around thinking of normal things like sports, politics and whether or not they turned the coffee pot off, I tend to daydream about baking.  More specifically, I continually try to think of something new to put inside or on top of a cake or cupcake.  My best ideas tend to come to me at odd hours of the night or in the shower.  Sometimes (most times) they turn out better in my head than in reality [insert cupcake bomb here].  This one turned out ok though, thankfully.

We’ll start from the bottom.  Initially I wanted to do cake-cookie-cake-cookie layering system, but I feared that the cookie would be too heavy for the cake and end up crushing the little bugger.  Plus I only have one 8 inch cake pan, so the oven would have been on for an eternity. So I opted to put the cookie on the bottom.  It’s just your typical peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe (egg subbed out with flax and water).  I stuck it in the freezer for a bit in order to be able to handle the dough without it sticking to every inch of my hands.

The chocolate cake is from VCTOTW…. not much more to say about that I guess.

The icing in the middle and on top is actually the same.  Why the difference in color?  Well, sometimes I’m a bit of an idiot.  I stuck the frosting in the microwave to soften it up a bit to [hopefully] make frosting the top easier.  Did you know if you get chocolate chips warm they melt?  Yeah, duh.  So, what we have here are two versions of peanut butter cookie dough icing, one a little more chocolatey than the other.  You just take some cookie dough and whip it with shortening or margarine and make frosting as usual.

The icing on the side is plain ole chocolate buttercream.  I would say this one too is out of VCTOTW, but I think I actually pulled it from memory.  My Dad made chocolate cake a lot growing up.  The icing recipe may just be the only culinary thing I took with me when I left home.  Hmm, moving on.

The cookies on the side are obviously mini versions of the big PB cookie on the bottom.  I stuck them on there with a dab of icing.

Now what really matters is, Gary loved it!  The cake was delicious and it didn’t turn into a brick in your tummy.  I do think I need to go to cake frosting school though, or just stick to cupcakes.

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you just have to veganize them.

In all my random perusal of food blogs and various food sites on this big ole web, I somehow managed to never stumble upon .  Until I saw a coworker looking at it.  Now I’m addicted to it.  The site constantly streams all sorts of food pictures from blogs and websites all over the internet.  It’s a superb way to procrastinate, or find something to cook for dinner.  Or dessert.

One of the many pics I “gawked” at was from The Sweet Spot blog.  I don’t think anything on this blog is even close to being vegan, but the woman knows how to bake, evidently.  What caught my eye was this chocolatey, creamy, peanut buttery goodness all wrapped into one scrumptious looking dessert.  I was in love.  But not with all the dairy that’s in it.  I had been thinking about making an ice cream cake lately so I thought this a lovely opportunity to try it out.  I subbed the “cream” layer with some homemade vegan ice cream from Veganomicon.  For the peanut butter layer I made vegan peanut butter pie.  I used the chocolate cupcake recipe from VCTOTW, and the rest was an easy sub.

The result…..

If I were to do it all over again I’d go with ganache on top instead of butter-cream icing.  I’d also wait a wee bit longer before putting the cake together as my ice cream was a tad too soft and therefore didn’t stay put quite as well as I had hoped.  The flavors go well together though.  I’d give it a 9.2 on the Pretty Damn Tasty scale.

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