Day 8: Pear-Rum Cupcakes with Tea-Infused Buttercream Frosting–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style

Pear Cupcakes(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

Today was a total girls’ day with my little grand daughter Henley. We spent the morning baking these awesome little cupcakes and then went shopping for clothes. After years of raising boys, this is a new experience for me and I love it.

I chose Pear-Rum Cupcakes with Tea-Infused Buttercream Frosting. So, as instructed, I prepared the tea bags and cream the evening before while I was making my own tea. Today I started the batter right when little one went down for a nap hoping she would stay down long enough for me to get them in the oven.

I started reading the recipe and really??? Again with the food processor?! I swear if a certain vegan chef and cookbook author was stranded on a deserted tropical island and could only take one kitchen gadget, it would be the food processor! So here we go again. I’m really thankful little Henley is sleeping so she doesn’t hear some of the words that always fly out of my mouth when I use my processor.

I have to admit I analyzed the recipe trying to find another way but I have to give in on this one. No other gadget that I own would be the same and I didn’t want to screw it up. Because we are not a vegan household, I confess I used white flour, white sugar, and whole milk. Aside from that I followed the recipe – winky face. I admit the part where you add baking soda to the vinegar was so fun I thought I was back in grade school building a volcano as a school project. I decided on mini cupcakes because I know myself too well. I never finish a whole cupcake although I will eat all the icing – so really a lot like a three year old.

Henley with FrostingLuckily for me they came out of the oven right before Henley woke up, so she got to help me with the frosting. She especially loved the decorating and the taste testing. That was her favorite part of the day. Shhh! Please don’t tell her mom and dad!!! So here’s the results… I thought the cake part was fresh tasting and not too sweet but I thought the frosting was too sweet so I added a little salt to it. Then I realized that together they are perfect.

My husband is not a big dessert eater but he loved the cake after he scraped off the frosting. My youngest son got so excited seeing cupcakes on the counter when he got home from school. He asked what kind they were and without thinking I said pear. I forgot pears are his least favorite fruit. So he loved the frosting and left the cake…much like how I eat cupcakes! I sent a dozen to work after lunch and my other son texted me “THEY ARE VEGAN!” the minute he saw them. Remember…vegan phobic family. I texted back ” No they aren’t. I used whole milk and white flour.” Still he insisted they tasted “vegan”. Whatever. It’s ok because little Henley was a huge fan and it was our special day.

~Kim Howard Hastings

Kim Hastings

 

 

 

 

[Betsy’s note: white flour is vegan–just not particularly nutritious–and white sugar is, though sometimes animal bone char is used to refine it.]

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“She Wore Red Velvet”–Teacher Sample for AP Art Cupcake Challenge

She Wore Red Velvet--October 2013As promised, here is my teacher sample for the cupcake challenge I presented to my wonderful Advanced and AP Art students last week.

I am reasonably happy with mine–after lots of working back into it–but I can’t WAIT to show you theirs!  On Thursday, they made drawings from vegan cupcakes, both Whole Foods’ (dry cake and grainy frosty) and my homemade Red Velvet ones (the fan favorite!).

Tomorrow, they start their compositions in earnest.  Stay tuned!

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Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes Take Over the World

Red Velvet Cupcake Made from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the WorldThis week, I created a cupcake challenge for my Advanced and AP Art Students.

Entitled, “Hey Cupcake!  What’s Up?,” it started on Thursday with them making beautiful sketches of 3 different kinds of vegan cupcakes: 2 from Whole Foods (an Oreo flavored and a peanut butter flavored), and 1 that I made: Red Velvet from the recipe for “Crimson Velvet” cupcakes in the fabulous cookbook: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa (who needs no last name, like Cher or Madonna…or Prince).

My students pronounced my cupcakes absolutely divine as opposed to Whole Foods’ pricey ones that had flavorless, dry cake and grainy frosting. They looked pretty but mine were delicious AND pretty…don’t you think? 

So, I just want to put in a plug for the book.  I have made and adapted SO many from that book and they never fail!   Thanks Isa (Chandra Moskowitz)!

Hey Cupcake!  What’s Up--Teacher Sample DetailP.S.  I’ll post images of my students’  finished artwork soon!  But, in the meantime, here is a detail of my teacher sample entitled “She Wore Red Velvet.”  Mine is about body image/eating disorder/food obsession. (Topics with which I am only too familiar from my teens/20s…and the residual.) Part of the piece is painted with coffee! I was up working on it after my husband  and I went to dinner until 12:30 this morning. Did I earn an A? (Sorry about the image quality…it was taken this morning at 6:20 with my not-so-great ‘Droid camera phone on the kitchen counter!)

 

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Vegan Fresh Fig Cupcakes with Vegan Lemon-Brandy Buttercream Frosting

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Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

These may possibly be the moistest cupcakes you will ever put in your mouth!

A pint of fresh figs from a local farm market that needed used fairly quickly resulted in these beautiful confections.  The lemon in the buttercream frosting  provides a subtle but bright contrast to the cinnamon-scented fig cupcakes, while the brandy flavoring (use real brandy if you have it–my husband forbids me, jokingly–sort of–to use his)  accents their ripe, earthy fruitiness for the perfect summer wedding of flavors.

Vegan Fresh Fig Cupcakes

1 cup soymilk (unsweetened or plain)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (I have used rice wine vinegar in a pinch and it works just fine)

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (this is what I keep on-hand, but unbleached all purpose is fine)

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons natural sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup walnut oil or canola oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

18 to 20 small-medium fresh figs, stemmed, and pureed in a food processor

Vegan Lemon-Brandy Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)

Garnish: 12 fresh fig halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.  In a small cup or bowl, whisk together soymilk and vinegar to make a vegan “buttermilk.”  When it curdles, whisk again and set the mixture aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the soymilk mixture, oil, and vanilla extract.  Stir just until all ingredients are well combined and no lumps remain.  Stir in the fig puree until completely combined.  Fill muffin cups no more than 3/4 full and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack, and then remove cupcakes from tin.  Place frosting in a pastry bag (mine came from the Dollar Tree!) fitted with a star-type tip, and pipe on top of cooled cupcakes in concentric circles, spiraling high.  Top with a fresh fig half just before serving.

Vegan Lemon-Brandy Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup vegan butter

4 cups powdered sugar, divided

2 tablespoons soymilk (unsweetened or plain)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon brandy flavoring

Zest of 1/2 large lemon

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together shortening and vegan butter.  With mixer on low, beat in half of powdered sugar and half of soymilk.  Repeat.  Beat in vanilla, brandy flavoring, and lemon zest, and then turn mixer to high and whip until creamy-fluffy.

 

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SpryLiving.com Features The Blooming Platter’s Vegan Peaches-and-Cream Cupcakes with Peach Butter Whip Frosting as One of the “Best”!

 

Vegan Cupcakes--Spry Living--2013Spry magazine is America’s largest health magazine, reaching 9 million readers via 600 newspaper partners across the US including the New York Daily News, Denver Post and LA Times.
As I was told when they contacted me, “Think Parade or USA Weekend with a health and wellness focus.”   The focus is positive, inspirational messages covering nutrition, fitness and beauty.
A while back, they contacted me about including my Vegan Peaches-and-cream Cupcakes with Peach Butter Whip Frosting  in “Spry Serves Up,” a feature of “best vegan cupcakes” on their companion website SpryLiving.com. It is”an extension of the print publication as well as a highly trafficked stand-alone health and wellness hub offering fresh daily content, an enormous healthy recipe database, health and wellness resources, inspiring stories and more. We currently have 7 million unique visitors (and growing) per month.”
I’m honored to be included in their list of  “bests” and thrilled to be able to share the link with you where you will find not only my photo and recipe, but about 10 other vegan irresistables.  I have my eye on the Champagne Cupcakes in particular.  I have seen those made on Cupcake Wars and wondered if they really taste like Champagne, which I adore.  And I pledge to find out…soon!
Thanks to writer Haley Marshall and to Spry magazine and SpryLiving.com for including The Blooming Platter in their line-up!
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Go Dairy Free Re-Features My Vegan Savory Black Bean Cupcakes with Whipped Sweet Potato Frosting Just in Time for Halloween

If you’ve not visited Go Dairy Free in a while, I recommend you click on the link and head on over, as I think you’ll love the new format.  New look.  Same great information, ideas, recipes, and resources that is continually expanded.

In a recent email, GDF creator, Alisa, wrote “I’m slowly updating old recipes with our new format, so I just refeatured one of your recipes from last year!”

The recipe is for my Savory Black Bean Cupcakes with Whipped Sweet Potato Frosting.  Sound odd?  Well, they are pretty unique, I have to say.  Sort of like a bread, protein and starchy vegetable in one.  In a word: delish, if I do say so.  And so very pretty.

Please enjoy them with my wishes for a very Happy Halloween!

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Go Dairy Free Just Published My Vegan Lemon Verbena Cupcakes with Orange-Almond Butter Cream Frosting!

Find the back-story and simple recipe for these cupcakes  HERE

And if  you don’t have lemon verbena growing in your garden, run, don’t walk, to the nearest garden center or farmer’s market.  It has become one of my favorite herbs: pretty, versatile, and easy to grow!

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Vegan Kahlua-Spiked Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes with Coconut-Espresso Buttercream Frosting

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen miniature cupcakes

Where did May go?  I feel that I’ve been out of touch for so long, and that was not my intention!

I had the flu for the first two weeks of the month, and it was all I could do to get myself to school and home.  And, I guess, by the middle of the month, we were deep into testing, final assignments, end of year celebrations and, come the first of June, the creation of exams and oh-so-much-more in preparation for graduation which is only a week from tomorrow!  The last days of school are absolutely breathless!

Speaking of breathless, these fabulously decadent cupcakes will take your breath away!

They were inspired by the irrepressible Kisha Marie, Starbucks barista and beaded jewelry designer extraordinaire.  I love starting my day with an exchange of greetings, ideas, and news with Kisha.  Her exuberance is infectious.  And, I swear, she has my Green Tea Soy  No Syrup Frappuccino started before I even arrive!

Every so often, my local Starbucks where she works offers free tastes from a big carafe.  A recent Kisha Marie concoction gave rise to my newest favorite cupcake: a blend of iced Via concentrate, coconut syrup, and soymilk.  Mmmm…  She always gets the balance of flavors,  consistency, and color exactly right.

Though there is no chocolate in her signature beverage, I thought the chocolate cupcakes would be a perfect foil for the coffee and coconut in the frosting.  Yes, indeed! And the Kahlua?  Well, who needs to justify coffee liqueur?  I just have to remember not to spike them when I share with my students!

But I did share them with all my pals at Starbucks.  The cupcakes received a latte praise (sorry, I couldn’t resist), though Kisha recommended that I use Via instead of my standard espresso powder.  I’m sure she’s right about that.  Next time!

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup natural sugar

1/3 cup finely ground almonds, plain or toasted for deeper flavor (use a food processor to achieve the consistency of an almond meal)

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt (table salt is fine, but I love sea salt even in baked goods)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (or canola oil)

1 cup chocolate almond milk (chocolate soymilk may be substituted)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

5 tablespoons Kahlua or other coffee flavored liqueur for brushing tops

Coconut-Espresso Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)

Optional garnish: 30 chocolate-covered coffee beans, sliced almonds, or a pinch of plain or toasted coconut

Line 30 mini-muffin cups with mini-muffin papers.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together all dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients except Kahlua.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture.  Stir both together until the batter is smooth, though a few small lumps may remain.  Using a small scoop, divide batter evenly among the lined muffin cups.  Bake for 20 minutes or just until a toothpick inserted in the center of one cupcake comes out clean.  Check at 18 minutes to avoid over-baking.  Remove muffin tins to wire racks to cool.  When cool enough to handle, remove cupcakes from the tins onto the racks in order to prevent them from continuing to cook.  Prick each cupcake a few times with a toothpick and brush the tops with up to 1/2 teaspoon Kahlua each.  Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe in swirls on top of each cupcake.  Or simply spread the frosting on each cupcake with a dinner knife, spoon or offset spatula.  Garnish as desired and serve immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Coconut Espresso Buttercream Frosting:

6 tablespoons vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)

6 tablespoons vegetable shortening

3 cups powdered sugar

4 teaspoons espresso powder dissolved in 4 teaspoons unsweetened or plain soymilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons coconut extract (extract is preferred over coconut flavor, though the flavor will do if you can’t find extract)

Cream together butter and shortening until smooth.  Beat in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, alternating with the espresso and soymilk mixture, until smooth and creamy.  Start electric mixer on low so as not to coat yourself in sugar.  Beat in vanilla and coconut extracts until completely incorporated.

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Vegan Banana Mini-Cupcakes with Chocolate-Banana Mousse Frosting–Thank You Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero!

These beauties were  baked from a recipe in Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero’s Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  And they are out-of-this-world, or so my AP Studio students, the lucky recipients, thought!

I simply baked the batter from their Banana Split Cupcakes recipe (p. 81) in decorative paper-lined mini-muffin tins without the addition of the pineapple preserves or chopped dark chocolate.   Then I frosted them with their recipe for Chocolate Banana Mousse (p. 157) and topped them with a half macadamia nut–they’re too expensive to use whole!

I omitted the  soymilk from the frosting recipe, as I wanted it quite thick, and only used 10, instead of 12, ounces of chocolate (10 ounces is what came in my bag), and it was perfect.  The recipe is almost identical to my go-to mousse from another source that uses a liqueur in place of the soymilk, so either way would work great.   And both are equally as delicious whether enjoyed as frosting, a mousse, or a pie filling!

The frosting recipe is essentially a package of extra-firm silken tofu processed until smooth with melted chocolate, a couple of more tablespoons of the sweetener of your choice, a little bit of vanilla, and a banana, chilled for about an hour before piping.

I recommend buying this cookbook–a staple in my kitchen (right along with The Blooming Platter that is!)–so that you can enjoy this and lots of other recipes for both traditional and contemporary cupcakes.  Think “Cupcake Wars,” vegan style.

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