Thursday, February 1

Vegan with a Vengeance Chocolate Cupcakes

Curious. That's what I was when I saw a recipe for Vegan Cupcakes. I'm not a vegetarian or a vegan, and I was curious about what goes into a cupcake without milk, butter and oil.

My shopping spree took me to the most Hippy store I know, Sprouts. I love going to there, shopping while sipping on free coffee samples and listening to "At the car wash."

I'll tell you, this experiment made me more conscience about what I'm cooking with.  My final verdict is that I'm glad I learned something new, but no lifestyle changes for me. I am going to try to make a soy latte with some of the new ingredients sitting my kitchen.

On a side note, I did have this vegan cupcake with a big glass of milk. I know, it defeats the purpose, but come on, can you really have a cupcake without milk?



Devil's Food Vegan Cupcakes

Adapted from "Vegan With a Vengeance," by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Marlowe, 2005)

Time: 1 hour 45 minutes


Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 tablespoons black cocoa powder (see note) or more Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain soy milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, such as Earthbalance
1/3 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
21/2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the chocolate icing:
1/3 cup plain soy milk
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or confectioners’ sugar

2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons plain soy milk.
1. For the cupcakes: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-muffin pan with paper liners, and spray lightly with nonstick spray. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a mixer, combine the soy milk, oil, syrup, sugar, vinegar and vanilla. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add half the dry ingredients and mix to blend. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix for 1 minute.
2. Use a standard ice cream scoop to fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
3. For the filling: In a mixer, beat margarine and shortening until combined. Add 21/2 cups confectioners’ sugar and beat until very fluffy, about 10 minutes. Taste for sweetness and add remaining 1/2 cup sugar if desired. Add vanilla and beat for 1 minute more.
4. For the chocolate icing: In a small skillet, bring soy milk to a simmer. Reduce heat to very low and stir in the chocolate and maple syrup, stirring until just melted. Turn off heat.
5. For the royal icing: Using an electric mixer or by hand, sift sugar into a bowl and add 1 tablespoon soy milk. Mix, adding up to 1 more tablespoon soy milk until consistency is like stiff toothpaste.
6. To assemble: Prepare two pastry bags, one fitted with a large plain tip, and one with a small writing tip. Fill large-tipped bag with filling, and the small-tipped bag with royal icing. (Instead of pastry bags, thick resealable plastic bags may be used. For filling, cut off one corner of bag so the opening measures a scant 1/2 inch across. For icing, opening should be just large enough to pipe a thin line.)
7. Using your pinkie, poke a hole in center of each cupcake top about an inch deep. Push tip of pastry bag with filling into each hole, firmly squeezing in filling and slowly drawing tip up and out. When all cakes have been filled, wipe off any excess that sticks out from holes; tops of cupcakes should be flat.
8. Place cupcakes on a baking sheet or tray that fits in refrigerator. Rewarm pan of chocolate icing over low heat if necessary, stirring constantly. Dip top of each cupcake into icing, swirling to coat completely. When all cupcakes are dipped, refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes to set. When set, use royal icing to make squiggles across center of each cupcake. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve, up to 1 day.
Yield: 12 cupcakes.

Sunday, January 28

Broomsticks and Aprons and lots in between...Catching up on this week

Dishes. That's why I haven't really been in the kitchen this week. I don't want to do dishes. Silly isn't it. I've been to the grocery store, clipped recipes, but still, we ate out every meal this last week. I wonder if it was the weather? Forecast for this week- Vegan Cupcakes I found in a NY Times article link from AfricanKelli.

Bridal Showers. Oh yeah, there was one of those in the mix too. I don't do "showers" really well. I don't like guessing how big is the mom-to-bes-belly or play Married Mad-Lips, but this one was short, to the point and fun. Ana had a great idea for place holders. She made aprons with our names on them and them tied to the backs of our chairs.


Farmer's Markets. I love getting up early on Saturday mornings and heading out to Farmer's Markets.  The Farmer's Market group in the Phoenix area has really worked on putting up a friendly Web site. I usually go to the RoadRunner Market, you can count on at least a dozen vendors and a nice selection of fresh produce and pre-made items.  This weekend I ventured out to the Mesa Market. There was only one produce vendor and maybe two arts and craft booths. It was nice enough, but after five minutes, I was finished browsing.

One good thing about the experience, was that I got to explore downtown Mesa. There's a lot of sculpture and boutique shops. This sculpture is called the Drunk Horse.



Art. Getting caught up in the art scene, it's not a bad place to be. I went to the Phoenix Art Museum. My friend Ann is finishing her Docent training there and she wanted to practice her tour. She did an amazing job and I learned a lot. I don't know how to really look at art. I'm one of those spend 10 seconds per painting, determine if I could have done it better and move on. So, any chance to have someone talk to you about a piece, is a treat. She needs to work on being nicer. She kept telling me, "Don't touch that!"

We ran over to Old Town and went to see the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. There was a fun exhibit with lots of toy figures. If you go there, you MUST eat breakfast or lunch at The Orange Table.

Last night, Hubby and I went to see Body World 3 at the Arizona Science Center. We learned a lot. Here's a hint, we went at 7:45 PM, which was perfect. We ate an early dinner at Circa 1900, went to the exhibit and afterwards, went back to Circa for dessert. My dinner experience was similar to the review in Feasting in Phoenix. I had to capture a shot of the dancers in front of the Herberger Theater. Something tells me this wasn't part of the original vision, but if you can't have fun, what's the point.