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Posts Tagged ‘tofu buttercream’

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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