Archive for Cupcakes

White Russian Cupcakes


It feels like it has been forever since I have made cupcakes. My lofty dreams of being a vegan pastry chef, creating tons and tons of awesome cupcakes and pastries, seems pretty unattainable given the amount of time I had left over at the end of the day to bake (and my paranoia of getting fat!), so I am happy I baked these just in time to have sitting on the kitchen table for the boyfriend to eat after returning home from visiting graduate school in DC. After finding this recipe at Cute and Delicious, I knew I had to make it. Not only that, but make them, and then consume them while watching The Big Lebowski.

The best part about these is that they actually taste like White Russians. Not only the Kahlua and vodka infused frosting, but the cupcake batter itself. The double batter recipe made for a charming looking cupcake once you bit into it, noticing the darker and lighter layers. They rose nice and high as well.

The frosting was DELICIOUS, my only regret is that I did not have Earth Balance in the refrigerator despite thinking I did, so I was stuck with using margarine, which made the frosting runny and less visually appetizing. But hey, they look kind of messy, and let’s face it, The Dude was not exactly a neat, well put together guy. He would appreciate these cupcakes, and I would totally make them again.

Cheating…

They look delicious for being cheater cupcakes

I cheated with these. They came from a box. A box of Duncan Hines vanilla cake mix to be exact (surprisingly vegan!). And they were every bit of delicious as they would have been had I made them by scratch. I substituted cornstarch and water for the egg it called for, and instead of oil used applesauce, simply to make the cupcakes more healthy. As it turned out, it also added a wonderful hint of apple-ly taste to the cupcakes as well. They were beyond delicious, and incredibly light and fluffy.

The frosting – also not homemade sadly. I used Duncan Hines chocolate frosting (I love you DH), because a simple vanilla cake and chocolate frosting go so perfectly together. I actually ended up bringing these to party and everyone loved them! They got tons of compliments, which was great. If I ever needed to cheat at cupcakes again, I would totally turn to these.

Back to school… with cupcakes!

Back to school!

Every year for the first day of school my mom would have a whole batch of warm, home-made chocolate chip cookies waiting for me when I got off the bus. Being tired and usually exceedingly crabby, cookies made the day a little bit better for me AND everyone else around. Since I knew my mom was not going to be making cookies for my brother and sister (they’re twins), I knew they deserved to have the same treat and decided to make them the Lemon Gem cupcakes from Vegan with a Vengeance. Granted, I didn’t make cookies, but who wouldn’t be cheered up by a dozen bright and glowing cupcakes?!

When the batter smells good, you know the cupcakes will rock!

As said before, the cupcakes I made were from the ever-amazing Vegan with a Vengeance. I don’t know how any vegan cannot love Isa or Terry. I will admit, making these was just a little self-serving. I had been eye-balling the recipe for a while, had all the ingredients laying around, and I love citrus-y cupcakes so much. I won’t re-post the recipe because it’s not my place to do so, but I do have a lot of pictures!

First of all, when making the batter the first thing you notice is that it smells amazing. How could it not though, with lemon zest and juice? It was such a pretty color as well!

Enough to make you smile

They looked like little round suns when I pulled them out of the oven! They were fragrant enough that my brother, sister, and dad all individually descended from their rooms (no small feat!), into the kitchen, to comment on how they were making the house smell great. As the nights were just starting to get cooler, having a warm, comforting and lemony-scented house is a thing to be cherished. Just like the recipe said, they really do not rise a ton, so filling the tins pretty full is necessary. However, given that the recommended frosting is more like an icing and slightly runny, I would have filled them even less had I known. Something about these cupcakes make them appealing without rising a ton anyhow.

All dressed

I made the lemon frosting, which as said was more like an glaze/icing than a frosting. I should have known though, given the picture of these located in the center of the book. The glaze was still great and was packed with lemon flavor, perfect for the cupcake, and would even be great on a regular vanilla cupcake as well. It was simple and perfect for these cupcakes. I think it would even be fantastic drizzled over a bundt (perhaps the pina colada ones from My Sweet Vegan??) or pound cake.

Great on their own even!

Then, to put the finishing touches on the cupcakes, I look lemon peels and candied them to place on top, following this recipe that I found on epicurious:

  • 1 organic lemon, washed well
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • First, I cut pieces of the peel away from the lemon in long strips, trying to cut as close to the peel as possible, to avoid the pith. After this, I added the peels with 2 cups of water to a saucepan, and brought it to a boil. You then drain this, add another 1 cups of water, and repeat. You do this once more after this. This functions to remove any of the bitterness from the peel, soften it, and allow it to later absorb the sugar. Then, you add your 2 cups of sugar to the pan along with another cup of water, whisking until the sugar is fully dissolved. Adding the peels, you bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, allowing the peels to simmer until they are translucent and soft. This will take around 15-20 minutes. You then drain the peels and let them cool, coating them with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar.

    I will admit, I was munching on these before they even made it onto the cupcakes, they were so tasty. Despite being slightly time consuming, they were definitely worth it and made the cupcakes look that more fancy.

    I loved these cupcakes, and so did my sister in particular. They were extremely full in flavor, and besides the glaze, they were not TOO sugary. It is something different from your traditional chocolate or vanilla cupcake with chocolate or vanilla frosting, and I think they are far more cheery and elegant – a cupcake I would bring to cocktail party. They were perfectly moist and were not overly lemon-y. I had one to round out my breakfast, and they were even awesome in the morning alongside coffee. I would make them again in a heartbeat, even the candied lemon peels as well. If I was looking for a thicker frosting, that could easily be done as well while still making it lemony, or simply vanilla as the cupcakes themselves have quite a flavor. I would turn to this recipe again, and am even interested in trying it with different frosting combinations!

    Zilly Cakes!

    I didn’t think there was anywhere I could go within walking distance of my apartment to get a vegan cupcake whenever the urge hit. Then, I was informed that Zilly Cakes, just a few blocks away (located at 1008 Elmwood Avenue), had a different vegan cupcake every month.  Zilly Cakes is perhaps best known for its cupcake portrait of Obama, and has also been featured in many wedding magazines for their gorgeous cakes. This is great for my sweet tooth, but not too much for my gut.  My first cupcake from there was this:

    Technically, I bought and ate two. But it is a banana cupcake (this would have been good on it’s own even) with peanut butter frosting, and peanut butter cap’n crunch cereal on top, as I chose that from one of their multiple toppings. The cupcake was delicious – it was so moist and had a great banana flavor, and the peanut butter frosting packed so much flavor as well, being rich without being overly sugary. The Cap’n Crunch cereal on top added to the texture by giving just a little bit of a crunch, and of course contributed more peanut butter goodness.

    Since then, I have gone there multiple times, once having the boyfriend making a run during the US-Ghana world cup game to grab us some while I held our seats at a near-by coffee shop. It was a chocolate cupcake with cookies and creme frosting, which sadly I do not have a picture of, but trust me, it was also great and beautiful as well.

    I have since learned that Dolci, which is less than a block away, also has vegan baked goods. All you simply have to do is ask which ones are vegan! I have bought numerous mini-cupcakes and cookies from them, including specially requested buffalo cut-out sugar cookies with icing, which were adorable and SO GOOD. The non-vegans thought it was too good to be vegan.

    And of course…

    Red Velvet Cupcakes. Is it me or do they just seem to be every where lately? Popular little things, they are. It seems like you can’t watch an episode of Cupcake Wars (or any other cupcake show, for that matter) without someone turning to them. It makes sense though – they taste amazing and they are pretty easy on the eyes (you always eat cupcakes with your eyes first!). They are a classic, and I used to make them all the time in my non-vegan days, so of course I wanted the challenge of making them vegan and still have them taste just as good. I was further motivated by the boyfriend telling me how he wasn’t sure if he ever had a red velvet cupcake or not.  That, and Tofutti, was all the motivation I needed (as if I need more motivation to bake)!

    After sorting through recipes, I found one that sounded close to the non-vegan version but also sounded like it would make a moist cupcake that wasn’t overly sugary. Of course, I changed a few things, as I always seem to do that when baking.

    This is the recipe, adapted from http://www.food.com/recipe/red-velvet-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese-frosting-vegan-412578:

    Cake: (to make just over a dozen cupcakes)

    • 1 cup soy milk
    • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 tsp ground almonds
    • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/3 cup canola oil
    • 2 tbsp red food coloring
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract

    Frosting:

    • 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (I used Earth Balance), at room temperature
    • 1/4 cup Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, at room temperature
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract

    I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, and then started by adding the vinegar to the soy milk to let it curdle while mixing other ingredients. Then, I added the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and powder, and salt. Coming back to the soy milk, I then added the food coloring, oil, vanilla extract and ground almonds. I mixed wet and dry together just until there were no lumps left in the batter. I then filled the cupcake tins and let them bake for about 20 minutes (my oven seems to take a couple minutes longer to bake things than normal though).

    Gorgeously red!

    While the cupcakes were cooking I made the frosting by first creaming together the Earth Balance and cream cheese, and then the sugar and vanilla. The key here is to have the cream cheese and margarine soft but not too warm, just enough to the ingredients will mix but not start to get runny. This is also why it’s important to make sure the cupcakes have cooled ALL THE WAY before frosting them. As you can see, I was a little hasty (and without my frosting kit) in frosting them, so the cream cheese melted a little on the cupcakes. Although tempting to throw them in the refrigerator, that would only dry the cupcakes themselves out.

    The finished product!

    I promise you they taste just as good as their non-vegan versions! I wanted to chain eat them all day long, and so did the boyfriend. I would cut one in half and try to convince myself to save the other for later, but it never worked. There was leftover frosting though… if only I had some pastry shells laying around or something. Sadly, I was forced to just feed it to myself right out of the bowl….

    In summary, they are gorgeous and I can’t imagine anyone not loving them.

    Also, I know there is a lot of debate going on right now about the use of Earth Balance since it contains palm oil. Earth Balance has claimed that their palm oil comes from renewable sources and is not a detriment to the environment. When baking, nothing seems to work quite as well as Earth Balance, so I will continue using it!