Archive for the ‘Cupcakes’ Category

Cashew Cardammmmmm…

April 21, 2008

Cashew Cardamom Cupcakes

If that was a bit too corny for you, I’m sorry! It’s just what popped into my head. So here’s a quick little post about these cuties. I am testing recipes, and one that I was really drawn to was the Cashew Butter Cardamom cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I’m really loving anything involving warm spices right now so I couldn’t help but try these out.

The verdict: They were good! OK, I’ll admit, not my favorite, but good. Here’s the thing… I pretty much need some sort of fruit, (preferably a strong citrus flavor-lemon please!) or chocolate to make me love a dessert. So as good as these were, I, personally, wasn’t thrilled. I do know some other people, however, who gobbled them up!

I’m not going to post the recipe, since I pretty much lifted it directly out of VCTOW, which you can (and should) buy here if you don’t already have it. The only thing I changed was that I made a cashew-butter cream cheese frosting instead of the one suggested in VCTOW (they called for soy milk powder, which sadly, I did not have).

Stay tuned, I will be testing more recipes soon! If anyone has any suggestions/requests, let me know!!

vegan cupcakes take over my life

April 15, 2008

So… I have charged boldly forth into the world of vegan cupcakes. Yes, vegan cupcakes are quite the trend these days, and because of that I kind of resisted heading in that direction, but you know what? I think I like vegan cupcakes better (shhhhh!) than traditional cupcakes. If made correctly, they are much, much less work, tastier (I don’t particularly love the flavor of butter and I think without it, one can taste the actual flavors in the cupcakes more clearly), and moister. I swear. Don’t get me wrong, I have had a number of bad vegan cupcakes, but I have also had many, if not more, terrible cupcakes made with butter, eggs, and all sorts of other supposedly delicious things.

Here’s where I’m going with this. I’m not going to make a big deal about it because I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but I may have the opportunity to be a dessert provider for a cute little restaurant. They specifically expressed an interest in vegan desserts, so that’s what set me off on this path. Now, whether that actually happens or not, I now have the perfect excuse to test recipes!

The first recipe I tried was a kind of combination of a few recipes from VCTOW, or, for the lay-reader, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I was wooed by the idea of mexican hot chocolate cupcakes, but I also had a request to make the cupcakes sugar free. I also didn’t have corn flour, which is called for in the mex/choc cupcakes, so I smushed a few recipes together, a bit from here, a bit from there and got:

Vegan Agave Sweetened Spiced Hot Chocolate Cupcakes, Philadelphia Style
Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
(makes 12 cupcakes)

For the cupcakes:
2/3 C soy milk
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2/3 C light agave nectar
1/3 C canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 C all-purpose flour
1/3 C cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cayenne
(I also added about ¼ cup of almond meal to the second half of the batter.  You can too, it was good!)

Directions:
1.    Preheat oven to 325°F.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2.    Mix the soy milk and the apple cider vinegar in a large bowl.  Allow this mixture to sit for a minute until it curdles.  Beat in the agave nectar, oil, and vanilla extract.
3.    Measure the dry ingredients into a small bowl and sift them into the wet ingredients.  (If you’re going to add in the almond meal, do it now).
4.    Mix only until smooth.
5.    Pour into the cupcake liners (this should make 12 cupcakes).  Only fill 2/3 of the way.
6.    Bake 20-22 minutes, or until a knife or a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Be careful not to over (or under) bake.
7.    Let the cupcakes cool before you frost them.  Seriously.  Just wait.  I promise, even if you’ve got to eat one right off the cooling rack, it’ll taste a LOT better at room temperature.

For the frosting:
(I just used a simple pourable vegan ganache to frost these babies.)

1.    Melt about half a bar or dark chocolate, two or three tablespoons of soy milk, and a few tablespoons of agave nectar (to taste) over very low heat.
2.    Let the ganache cool a bit, then pour over cooled cupcakes.
3.    I decorated them with slivered almonds because it was cute.

*These are less sweet than your average cupcake.  If you’re open to that, I think they’re pretty good!

Easter (aka i’ve been slacking. annnnnd… i’m back)

March 25, 2008

There’s something I really love about easter. When my brother and I were little, Easter was one of the more fun-filled holidays- less of a big to-do than Christmas or Thanksgiving, more kids at the family get-together, and almost as much (if not more) candy than Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, I can be pretty sentimental at times and will never ever lose my love for Christmas, but Easter was just a different kind of fun. Every year my mom would make an indoor easter egg hunt for my brother and me. The hunt was structured around a series of rhyming clues about egg locations. There was one clue to start, and the next clue was hidden with the eggs. It told us where to go next, and so on. This sounds very cute and all, but what you must know is that family quirks can not be stifled and ours were no exception. I wish I had saved the clues my mom wrote out. There was always at least one or two involving “the throne”, as it was known in our family (I really hope I don’t need to explain that to anyone) and eggs (plastic ones!) were frequently hidden at the bottom of piles of laundry, in people’s shoes, and in the dishwasher. The best part for me was that I am older than my brother and there were at least one or two Easters where I knew how to read and he didn’t. Now, I’m not especially proud of this, but I guess I have to admit it since it is documented on video. On those particular Easters, I found great delight in reading the clues to myself silently, and then running off to find the eggs and leaving my poor brother helpless, stomping his foot and yelling at the foot of the stairs. This may not sound very nice of me, but anyone who has a little brother should understand. The opportunities to stick it to a younger sibling didn’t come around all the time, but when they did, you had to take advantage! That’s just the way it was. And don’t worry, he did his fair share of torturing me too. I’m pretty sure it evened out.

saturday morning frittata and grapefruit

So, as you might guess, the days of the rhyming Easter egg hunt are long gone. I did have a nice, relaxed breakfast with my mom though.  I guess you could say we celebrated by making a frittata (above) and supreming about a million grapefruits to have on the side (my idea of luxury).

These days, much of the time leading up to Easter is spent baking and just spending time with the family, which is just fine with me. Every year the scene plays out in a similar way. Since I am the family’s designated baker, I never fail to spend at least three or four hours pouring through cookbooks looking for the the most decadent, most fantastic, most daring dessert candidates. I usually end up with at least five or six potentials, at which point my mom begins to sigh, worried that I will go way overboard and end up begging her to help me wash bowls at two in the morning (let’s just say it hasn’t not happened once or twice before).  

fudgiest chocolate cake 

To make a long story short, this year I narrowed it down to three recipes within a pretty reasonable amount of time.  I ended up making: an the fudgiest chocolate cake (drenched in ganache), grapefruit cupcakes (sugar-free, for my godfather who is diabetic), and a super top-secret recipe which I will post about at the end of the month!  The chocolate cake is based on this one from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, although I ran out of butter just before getting to the mousse layer and decided to go with ganache instead.  Besides, there was already enough butter at Easter!

The cake was absolutely delicious but so, so, rich.  We couldn’t finish it, which was no problem at all for me, because the leftovers are in my fridge right now acting a lot like the best fudge I’ve ever eaten.  Mmmmm.

Hey, we tried...

Fudgiest Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen
Makes at least 10 servings (one 9 inch round, or one 8×8 in square and 12 mini cupcakes, as I did)

Cake
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour

Ganache
6 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons heavy cream

For the cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter an 8×8 square pan; dust with sugar. Prepare one 12-well mini-muffin tray.  Melt chocolate and butter in heavy large saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm. Whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Mix in vanilla and salt, then flour. Pour batter into pan. Bake until cake just rises in center (tester inserted into center will not come out clean), about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack.  I would recommend keeping this one at room temperature as long as you can, just to keep it a little bit softer.

For the ganache: Melt the chocolate chips and the cream in a double boiler over gently simmering water.  Pour over the cooled cake.  Let drip langourously over the edges… ooh!

 The cupcakes, also borrowed from Smitten Kitchen, were so cute and really good for the kids as well as my godfather.  The recipe is below.

grapefruit cupcakes

Grapefruit Yogurt Cake
Adapated from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa and from Deb at Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (I used splenda and it worked fine)
3 extra-large eggs
3 teaspoons grated grapefruit zest (approximately one large grapefruit)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar  (I used splenda here too and it seemed OK)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.  ( I just made 12 mini-cupcakes and one mini loaf).

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, grapefruit zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the grapefruit-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and grapefruit juice and pour over the cake.

Red Velvet Cupcakes, and one step closer to the perfect chocolate chip cookie…

February 23, 2008

Red Velvet Cupcakes!

This week I had a bunch of orders for Cakes for a Cure. I made three Melt-in-your-mouth Chocolate Cakes (thanks Clotilde!), 8 batches of cookies (chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin), and one order of Red Velvet Cupcakes, which I was pretty excited about! The cupcakes ended up coming out delicious, and so so cute. The cookies, I’m proud to say, are very very close to what I consider to be absolute perfection in chocolate chip cookies. I like a thicker cookie, generously studded with chips, crisp and a little knobbly on the outside, but soft and ooey gooey in the middle. I want that one middle bite that almost tastes like cookie dough. And of course, there must be lingering but delicate hints of butter and vanilla. Ooooh.

So up until now, my main issues have been texture and height. There is a time and a place for a thin crispy cookie; I will admit that I have had a few thin, crispy chocolate cookies that were, admittedly, delicious, but those were exceptions. I like a cookie that I can really sink my teeth into. So, you’ll understand how disappointed I’ve been each time I put a batch of perfect-tasting chocolate chip cookie dough into the oven only to find, nine minutes later, a pan of dry, greasy, melted-looking chocolate chip pancakes. I don’t know why it took me so long to do some research on cookie chemistry, but I am infinitely glad that I finally did.

Cakes for a Cure!

February 13, 2008

Just wanted to put up a quick post about the fundraiser I’m doing, “Cakes for a Cure!” I’ll be baking like crazy and all the proceeds are going to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Here’s the whole story: I’m training for a marathon with Team in Training (although my training is currently on hold because of a hurt ankle…) and Cakes for a Cure! is my chosen fundraiser. So, order a cake, or some cookies, or anything! My website is http://www.whystopathope.com, and there’s much more information there. Also, please feel free to donate to the LLS through my website, if for some crazy reason you aren’t interested in delicious baked goods ;)


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