Wednesday, March 10, 2010

vegan pumpkin chocolate cupcakes with cinnamon icing

My baking rampage continues....And I also wanted to let everyone know that my former culinary school classmate and friend Eileen Botti and I will be selling our vegan cakes and cupcakes starting in the next couple of months. We're still figuring out the logistics of it all, but we hope to get started real soon. In the meantime, I will be posting more photos of vegan sweet treats for everyone to start drooling over. 

carob date cake

Here's another version of the carob cake recipe. This one had chopped dates and a vanilla bean cake soak as well. It came out a super dark morbidly black color. I think it's a bit halloween-esque. If only I had had orange sprinkles..

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

vegan carob cupcake with coconut and hawaiian sea salt

I'm continuing on my poor girl's culinary journey of trying out new dishes with random ingredients that I've had sitting in my cupboard in need of attention. It really forces you to be more creative in this hard economic time. ( I'm in the process of making my own mustard and mayonnaise-so easy and cheap-which I'll write more about later) It's also so therapeutic creating a tangible item and clearing space in the kitchen.

I adapted this recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Instead of using cocoa powder, I used carob. Carob tends to give baked goods more of an earthy flavor that can be a bit on the dry side. Therefore, I  made a vanilla bean cake soak that adds moisture to the cupcake and gives it an awesome vanilla/sugary kick without being too over-the-top-frosting sweet. Using an actual vanilla bean makes all the difference. They're a bit pricey, but way worth it when you wanna make something special. Adding the sea salt plays well with the sweetness. (I had some leftover from when I went to Maui, but any coarse sea salt will do) Who doesn't love sweet and salty combined?! Think of a more refined chocolate-covered pretzel!

Carob Cupcakes: 

1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon vinegar ( I used apple cider, don't use balsamic!)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup carob flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Or use ceramic ramekins and simply oil with a bit of canola oil. Whisk soy milk and vinegar and let sit in a small bowl for about 10 minutes to curdle and get a bit thick. Meanwhile, sift flour, carob, baking soda and powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add thickened soymilk and sugar, canola oil and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly until all large lumps are gone and spoon into paper muffin liners until 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick is inserted in center and comes out clean, or about 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack for a bit. 

Vanilla Soak: 
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 vanilla bean

Put 1/2 cup water, the sugar, and the oil in a small pot. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use a small sharp knife to scrape the seeds into the pot. Add the pod as well. Cook at a slow bubble, whisking mixture frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature, then remove and discard the pod. 

Pour the soak over the individual cupcakes and let sit for an hour. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

sweet potato and coconut soup

Sweet potatoes are insanely high on the nutrition scale. They have high levels of beta carotene, vitamin C, B6 and tons of fiber. I made this soup a couple of weeks ago when I was visiting my mom in Pennsylvania. It's a creamy and nourishing one, with a simple blend of sweet potato and coconut milk. The secret ingredient is lemongrass, which imparts a lovely lemony flavor that really ties the sweet potato and coconut together nicely. Lemongrass' essential oil is actually a natural form of an anti-cancer proponent that causes apoptosis, which is the process of killing cancer cells. I'm sure you need to be eating a hell of a lot of lemongrass to really make it potent, but it's nice to know that it's helpful in the fight against cancer. 

Two sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes)
One can of coconut milk
Two stalks of lemongrass (bruised and cut into chunks)
olive oil
One onion (diced)
Two cloves of garlic (minced)
Four cups of veggie stock
chopped mint (optional)
coconut flakes (optional)

Heat a stock pot on medium flame. Add olive oil, diced onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute a minute more. Add the diced sweet potatoes, lemongrass, veggie stock and coconut milk. Simmer on low heat for about twenty minutes. Check to see if sweet potato can be easily pierced with a fork. If so, you're done! Ladle into soup bowls and top with chopped fresh mint and a sprinklin of coconut flakes.