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Posts Tagged ‘cupcakes’

So all vegetables and fruits belong to different pigment families. In general there are three groups: chlorophyll (green plants like broccoli), carotenoids (orange and yellow plants like carrots) and flavonoids (red, purple and white plants like beets). When cooking veggies or fruit the acidity or alkalinity of whatever you’re cooking them in affects their ultimate appearance and texture. Acid will make spinach an ugly dull green but leave it firm while an alkaline will keep is bright but make it mushy. Flavonoids are affected differently. Acid leaves reds red but alkalinity turns them blue.

This means that if you put cherries in a cupcake batter and add baking soda (an alkaline) they’re going to turn blue. Furthermore, if you soak the cherries in whiskey and then add some of the soaking liquid to the batter, that blue hue is going to come with it. And since there is only bit of blue and a lot of tan/ brownish color from all the flour and sugar, the cupcake will take on some Dr. Seuss green eggs and ham like quality during baking. Thankfully the majority of the green pigment baked out of the cupcakes but part way through baking it looked like I was making spinach cupcakes.

This might not be true of all cherries. I’m guessing maraschino cherries would behave differently as they’re so freaking processed but I was using pure and unadulterated Bing cherries.

But regardless of rogue cupcakes pigments, I’m a huge fan of whiskey. I used to hate whiskey but during culinary school a certain instructor was very fond of the stuff and had us taste different whiskeys almost every day of the week. After a few months of tasting whiskey at 8am you start to develop a taste for it, to say the least.

Due to my new found love of whiskey, the Manhattan has quickly become my favorite cocktail. And when you order it at a bar (at a good bar, don’t order one at a dive bar) they tend to come with a whiskey soaked cherry sitting in the bottom of your glass. So of course I thought it would be a good idea to turn it into a cupcake.

Whiskey Soaked Cherry Cupcakes

First you have to soak your cherries. A few hours might be sufficient. A day would definitely do. But I soaked them for two days, just to be safe.

Pit your cherries and then quarter them. I believe it took 24 cherries to get 1 cup pitted and quartered. Place the chopped cherries in a small bowl or jar and cover with whiskey. Cover and let them soak.

For the Cupcakes

  • 3/4 C soy milk
  • 1 t apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 C AP flour
  • 3/4 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, about 10 swipes across a microplane
  • 1/2 C organic sugar
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/3 C canola oil (non-gmo)
  • 1/4 C cherry soaking liquid (whiskey)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t almond extract
  • 1 C quartered and soaked cherries

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

Mix the soy milk and vinegar together to curdle and set aside.

Sift all your dry ingredients together and set aside.

Whisk together the sugars and canola oil. Add the soaking liquid and extracts. Fold in about 1/3 of the flour followed by 1/2 of the milk and repeat, finishing with the last 1/3 of the flour.* Drain the cherries, reserving their liquid, and fold them into the batter.

Portion the batter into the cupcake pan – a 1/4 cup spoon yielded 12 cupcakes for me. Bake until they are springy and a toothpick comes out clean. These took longer than usual in my oven, I’m wanting to say over 25 minutes.

For the Buttercream

  • 4 oz vegan stick butter, room temp
  • 4 oz pressed extra firm silken tofu (1/2 of a Mori-Nu block)
  • Powdered Sugar, roughly 3 – 4 cups
  • Cherry soaking liquid
  • Pinch of salt

First press the tofu. Grab a few paper towels or a kitchen towel and wrap it around the tofu. Place it on the counter and put something heavy on top of it to help squeeze out the excess water. You can skip this step but then you won’t be able to add much flavoring liquid and/ or you’ll need more powdered sugar to absorb the excess water in the tofu.

After the tofu has been pressed for a bit, place it and the soft butter in a blender or small food processor bowl and blend them until well combined and “fluffy”. Transfer the mixture to your KitchenAid bowl (or any large bowl). With the paddle attachment (or a spatula), add a tablespoon or two of the cherry soaking liquid and the salt. Mix in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. I used less powdered sugar here than I typically do because I wanted a less sweet/ not so stiff frosting, but the quantities are ultimately up to your fancy.

For Homemade Cupcake Liners

So if you find yourself riffling through your cabinet and you discover that you have about 20 different cute, fun, polka-dotted cupcake liners but not any serious, whiskey worthy, adult-like ones, have no fear. Grab a piece of parchment paper and cut it into squares, I’d say about 4 x 4 inches. Take each piece and press it into a cupcake cavity, use the bottom of a glass to help make the creases stay. Voila! Now you have plain yet sophisticated cupcake liners. Problem solved.

If you’ve ever baked with alcohol, you know that most of it bakes out of the cupcake, so typically you can’t taste much of it when all is said and done. These cherries, however, are lushes and held onto the whiskey quite well. Therefore if you aren’t a whiskey fan, skip right over this puppy and maybe try the mango cupcakes. If you are a whiskey fan, you’ll love these!

* Regarding the mixing method with the cake batter, I generally don’t worry about the flour-milk-flour-milk-flour method with vegan cakes. Usually I’m lazy and throw all my liquid in the bowl, sift in my dry, mix, portion and bake. I thought I’d try to go about the right way and see if any differences were noticed. These cupcakes did turn out to be quite moist and not in the slightest bit tough. However, that could be due to the mixing method or the fact that I used less starches than I typically do. So the moral of the story is, if you’re feeling lazy, just through it all in the bowl and forget about it. 🙂

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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.

Lime Buttercream

  • 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!

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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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I never really tried to photograph food before a couple years ago. When I started cooking and baking I was proud of the fact that I could make stuff that tasted better than rocks or bits of moldy cardboard, so I wanted to show the world what I could do. Here’s the first photo I ever took of my food:

Not exactly breathtaking is it? =)

Food photography is a wee bit harder than I had anticipated. And it’s even harder to accomplish when you have a crappy point and shoot camera. I made a slight upgrade from my 5.0 megapixel Canon PowerShot last December to a 14.1 megapixel Sony Cyber shot with a 10x zoom, but it’s still a point and shoot. One of these days, when I’m all growed up and out of school and have a paying job (fingers crossed) I’ll bite the bullet and spend $500 – $1,000 for a decent camera, but I just can’t spend that kind of dough until I start making dough (bread that is).

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes, recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

The Sony isn’t half bad, but it’s fairly pathetic in bad lighting situations, which occur quite often here in the awesome but frequently overcast city of Portland, OR. I’ve been meaning to make a light box since about last October but for some reason I can’t ever find time to get to the store and buy fabric and a lamp (i.e. I hate driving and haven’t forced myself to get in my car and go procure these items). So I fuss and fiddle with this half-ass cardboard background contraption I threw together and often find myself getting drizzled on outside on the roof of our apartment while trying to absorb enough natural light to get a good photo without photographing a shadow… I’m not the smartest of people sometimes. The photo above was taken using this “background” thing I speak of. While it’s not a bad photo, there’s this bluish-gray thing going on when in reality that backdrop is white. This becomes a fairly moot point, however, if you’re doing black and white photos.

But food doesn’t always look good in black and white, of course. Here are some other photos I’ve taken using the same camera and half-hazard roof and makeshift background combination.

Tiramisu Cupcakes, recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

This photo isn’t bad, but the background has a blue tint and you can see the shadow on the right side of the main cupcake.

I really like this photo as it has good detailing of the frosting and chocolate rolls I made, but it’s blue and shadowy as well (which means FoodGawker will NOT accept it – I’ve given up on submitted stuff to them).

Here, again, you can see that black and white photos make the location of the sun less important.

Cake Balls made from vanilla cake, strawberry cream cheese icing and melted chocolate

This photo is proof that yes, we actually do get sunshine in Portland. You can see that the Sony does a decent job of focusing on some aspects of the items being photograph but tastefully blurs the rest. There is, however, still a shadow and it’s not really very photogenic because I was lazy and didn’t dress it up at all.

Brownie Pizza with cream cheese frosting and fresh strawberries

I thought this picture was pretty damn good but FoodGawker, again, rejected it – probably because of the blue tint. I think that’s my biggest problem, blueness. That and the fact that FoodGawker is too damn picky (they’ve rejected me, a lot).

It’s a lot of work photographing food. Even when a photo looks good there are so many little details that can make it not good, so you have to take like a gazillion pictures of everything. Every time I make something my husband’s like, “Can we eat it yet?” One of these days I’ll actually get my act together and go to the fabric store and a-l-l t-h-e w-a-y to Ikea to buy a cheap lamp to make my light box. But until then, I’ll keep fighting with the Portland sun.

Do you photograph food? What kind of camera do you have? Any special tips you’d like to share?

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I’ve been a little, oh I don’t know, swamped lately – as is totally obvious by the date of my last post (when was that again?…). Culinary school is nothing like Audrey Hepburn portrayed in Sabrina. It’s not all excitable French chef instructors and unbaked souffles. And I still don’t know the correct way to crack ze egg.  It is, however, full of reading, homework assignments, recipe analysis, quizzes and potato chopping, which has kept me less in the kitchen and more at my desk, except for the potato part of course (that would be messy). So instead of letting my poor little blog lay dormant any longer, I’m reaching into the not so distant archives to talk about a friend of mine: the coconut.

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of coconut. I was one of those kids who didn’t like anything growing up; though I also never tried any of the things I didn’t like… Coconut happened to be one of these things, though I did probably end up with some of it in my mouth from time to time, unbeknownst to me of course – the likely culprit being unmarked, heart shaped boxes of chocolate truffle candies.

I wasn’t alone in my non-coconutness though, it seems a lot of people have an aversion to coconut. I was turned the other way however when we were tasting cake for our wedding. We were at the Sweetpea Baking Co. here in Portland and one of the cupcakes Lisa brought out was Toasted Coconut. I immediately told myself I would not like that cupcake, but one bite of it had me hooked. Crunchy coconut flakes on top of creamy buttercream frosting on top of decadent coconutty cake? Freaking delicious!

We did end up getting coconut for one layer of our cake, but we got two other flavors for the other layers since, as I already said, a lot of people don’t like coconut. We sadly didn’t get to eat any of that layer though, so we indulged in a little toasted coconut when I made these cupcakes sometime last month. They’re really quite easy and your kitchen will smell fantastic when you toast the shredded coconut (provided you don’t burn it, of course).

Toasted Coconut Cupcakes (vegan)

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

Cupcake

  • 1 & 1/4 C organic AP flour
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 3/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt

Sift the ingredients above into a small bowl and set aside.

  • 1 C coconut milk, canned (I used light)
  • 1/3 C canola oil (non-GMO preferably)
  • 3/4 C organic sugar (agave can be used to, but use less as it’s sweeter)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t coconut extract

Combine all the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly; you can use a hand blender or Kitchen Stand Mixer of course. Add the dry ingredients (feel free to sift again) and mix until there aren’t many lumps. Pour the batter to the lined muffin pan and bake for 20 – 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer the baked cupcakes to a cooling rack about 5 minutes after removing them from the oven.

Coconut

  • About 1/2 C shredded coconut

Take a small sauce pot and put it on the stove over medium-low heat. Add the coconut and stir. You don’t need to stir it relentlessly, but you do need to hover over it quite closely. Frequently stir and move the coconut around. When it starts to brown it will do so quickly so keep an eye on it and remove, if necessary, those pieces already toasted if the others are taking too long. When in doubt, a little under-toasted coconut is better than charred coconut. Set it aside on a plate and make the frosting.

Frosting

  • 1/2 C vegan stick margarine
  • 1/2 C non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (or more margarine)
  • 1 – 2 t coconut extract, depending on how coconutty you want it
  • 1/4 C coconut milk
  • 3 – 4 C powdered sugar (plus more if needed)

Cream the margarine and shortening together in a large mixing bowl. Add the milk, extract and some of the powdered sugar and start mixing. Add powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency; I think I typically use at least 4 cups.

Now you can get all fancy and whip out the ole pastry bag here, or just plop a big dollop of frosting on top of the cupcakes and smooth it out a bit with a spoon or icing knife. Then grab the plate of coconut and spread it out a bit so it’s not in one big glob. Take the cupcake on its side and roll it in the coconut. Voila!

Even if you aren’t typically a fan of coconut, these cupcakes are quite tasty. They can also be made gluten-free simply by using a GF flour blend (and some agave instead of all sugar). If you’d like to do that and don’t already have a good flour mixture please contact me and I’ll give you some pointers.

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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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A long long time ago, in a far away place called Starbucks, I ordered a snickerdoodle cookie. You can imagine my surprise when I bit into the over-sized morsel and didn’t find any Snickers. “What the hell is a snickerdoodle then?”

I now know that snickerdoodle means cinnamon, not Snickers. As to what the word snickerdoodle has to do with cinnamon I still have no idea, and apparently nobody else can decide either. But things with random, seemingly obscure names are typically fun, and in this case tasty.

My first exploration into this simple sugar and cinnamon combination was prompted by the James Beard awards. The James Beard Foundation recently held the award nominations in the dining room of the Oregon Culinary Institute (where I go to school). For the students this meant a cooking contest. No, I didn’t enter it, but I thought about it. I probably should have but I was a little intimidated being that I still haven’t set foot in an actual culinary classroom. Plus we could only make so many changes and I wanted to make it vegan, which would have required too many changes in total. Anyway, I came across a James Beard recipe for snickerdoodle cake. One word: scrumptious. It wasn’t necessarily photo-worthy however, so you’ll just have to make it yourself to see how it looks.

The snickerdoodle quickly found its way back into my oven just a couple weeks later. As some of you know, we have a cookie jar that has a perpetual problem of running out of cookies [insert husband]. Whenever the cookie situation gets dire I run to my cookie cook book and pick out something that looks good but, most importantly, doesn’t require any trips to the store (I hate last minute dashes to the grocery store). The Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodle was the chosen one. Some might think cayenne and cinnamon shouldn’t necessarily go  together but they honestly worked extremely well together. These cookies had just the right amount of kick, and the texture was awesome too (and I even left most of the oil out).

I made cupcakes for the Bakesale for Japan fundraiser that was happening across the nation last Saturday, April 2nd. I had a bunch of ideas bouncing around in my head but I had been wanting to turn the snickerdoodle into a cupcake for quite some time. With French vanilla buttercream. And caramel in the middle. The French vanilla made it (which smelled just like birthday cake – I had no idea). The caramel, sadly, did not [insert laziness]. In my defense I made 4 batches of cupcakes that day, one twice because I screwed it up, so maybe I wasn’t necessarily lazy, just overly cupcaked.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes (vegan)

Preheat the ole oven to 350. Line muffin pan with liners.

  • 1 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Whisk the vinegar and milk together and set it aside to curdle.

  • 1 & 1/4 cup organic unbleached flour (or a combo of wheat & unbleached)
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 T cinnamon*

Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside.

  • 1/3 cup canola oil (non-gmo)
  • 3/4 cup organic sugar (or a combo of sugar and agave)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Combine the wet ingredients, including the now curdled milk, in a large mixing bowl a and mix until well emulsified. Add the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated, but don’t over-mix. Fill liners about 2/3’s full.

  • 1 tsp organic sugar
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Blend the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl and sprinkle over each soon-to-be cupcake. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let the cupcakes rest for about 5 minutes after they’re done and then transfer to a cooling rack, or put them in the fridge if you feel the need to frost them ASAP.

French Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegan stick margarine (room temperature)
  • 1/2 non-hydrogenated shortening
  • 3 – 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp French Vanilla extract

Cream the margarine and shortening together. It’s important to do this well or you’ll have chunks of pure fat sitting idly in your frosting. Add the milk, extract and 3 cups of the sugar and mix well. Add more sugar if needed to reach the desired consistency – if you’re piping the frosting on you want it to be a bit thick or it won’t hold its form.

Place the frosting in the fridge for 10 minutes or so before piping it onto the cupcakes to ensure it’s set enough to not get all sloppy after all your hard work. Make sure the cupcakes are totally cool before frosting them. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and place part of a cinnamon stick in the middle if you like.

* These were really good but I thought there might be just a tad too much cinnamon in them. Try reducing the cinnamon from 1/2 T to 1 tsp the first go round and see what you think.

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