Category Archives: new product

Come on in to the New Cupcake Shop!

So I keep telling you guys about how we’re changing the Bake it Pretty shop into a cupcake bakery, but so far you don’t have any proof.  For all you know, I could be making the whole thing up as a clever ruse to explain away the fact that I have been blogging with an unforgivable lack of frequency.  Well, speculate no further!  Here, at long last, are some pictures of the brand new bakery.

New Cupcake ShopThat’s me behind the counter.

New Cupcake Shop
That’s a shot of the interior of the shop, to give you some perspective.

New Cupcake Shop
Our first day’s offerings.  The “Southern Culture”, “Salty Dog”, and the “Chocolate Cupcakes with Toasted Coconut” came from my bakery.  We had some very happy vegan customers who wandered into the cupcake shop assuming there wouldn’t be anything they could eat!

New Cupcake Shop

On the right is a close-up of the Southern Culture cupcakes.  The pink lemonade frosting was a big hit!

New Cupcake Shop

These were called “Inner Beauty,” and they were a chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream filling, and topped with a double chocolate ganache.

New Cupcake Shop This is a closeup of the “Salty Dog” cupcakes (you can find the recipe for them here) .  In the background, you can see the Chocolate Cupcakes with Toasted Coconut.  They were in black and white polka dot wrappers that were so cute.

New Cupcake Shop

Just look at that full, happy bake case!  We have learned a lot about running a bakery (already!), and I’m sure we’ll learn a whole lot more.  But we’re having such fun, and I can’t wait to share more with you guys.  Oh, and if you’re in the Asheville area, be sure to stop into Bake it Pretty to get some vegan cupcakes!

Love,

Ian

Oh yeah, P.S.  If you follow the Bake it Pretty Blog, you may recognize a lot of these pictures from over there.  Thanks to Amanda for letting me use them!

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Filed under comfort food, cupcakes, life stuff, new product

Product Review: Vegan Nacho Chips

As you guys may or may not know, Jason loves Doritos.  Like, loves-loves.  Like, when he went vegan, he mourned the loss of Doritos in his life. Seriously.

Tias Salsa Picante

As you guys also may or may not know, last year Jason and I took a three-month long road trip across the country.  When you are living in a van, you end up eating a lot of road food.  I mean, we had a little camp-stove in the van and we ate really good food most of the time.  But there were definitely a lot of chips consumed as well.

And one day, while reading the labels of every kind of chip in the grocery store, praying for a new variety of vegan junk food, Jason found VEGAN DORITOS!  It turns out that the Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Doritos are actually vegan.  How can this be?  Because they don’t have any actual ingredients.  According to the Doritos website, some of the selling points of these chips are that they contain 0g trans fat, are lactose free, and are “pig (porcine) free.”  Um, ew.

From FritoLay.com

So needless to say, we bought those chips and ate them all.  And yes, I said “we.”  While I am certainly not going to the grocery store buying Doritos, if I happen to be stuck in a van with someone eating them and making loud yummy-sounds, I’m going to join in the flavor explosion.

Blah blah blah, whatever.  All of this exposition is to set the stage for what we found in the health food store a couple of weeks ago.  Kettle Chips has come out with a line of nacho chips that are made with all-natural ingredients.  And one flavor, Salsa Picante, is VEGAN!  Are you kidding me?  So of course, we bought a bag.  And what did we think?  Well, we’d tell you except our tongues are numb.

Tias Salsa Picante

I’m kind of kidding, but they really are like Doritos as far as how intense they are.  If you like the burn of Doritos on your tongue and the film of weird spices on your fingertips, you are going to love Tias.  They make a lot of non-vegan flavors, but the only ones that are vegan are Salsa Picante.  We would love to see them increase their vegan offerings in the future, although it’s probably better that they haven’t.  We’ve proven ourselves unable to snack in a responsible manner, so they are sort of saving us from ourselves.

Tias Salsa Picante

Now it’s time for a breakdown:

Here’s the ingredients for Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos: Whole Corn, Vegetable Oil (Contains One or More of the Following: Corn, Sunflower, and/or Soybean Oil), Salt, Sugar, Monosodium Glutamate, Fructose, Sodium Diacetate, Soy Sauce Solids (Soybean, Wheat, Salt), Onion Powder, Corn Maltodextrin, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Garlic Powder, Torula Yeast, Malic Acid, Extractives of Paprika, Spices, Caramel Color, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Dextrose, and Natural Flavor.

And here’s the ingredients for Salsa Picante Tias: Organic yellow corn, vegetable oil (safflower and/or sunflower oil), maltodextrin, tomato powder, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, sugar, paprika, yeast extract, jalapeno powder, green bell pepper powder, dextrose, vinegar, dried parsley, paprika oleoresin (color), spice extractive, spice.

Duh, right?  Like, wouldn’t you rather eat Dried Parsley than Disodium Guanylate?  So go buy some Tias, and thank us later.  Or curse us.  Or just invite us over.

Tias Salsa Picante

Luhph (my thungth sthill numb),

Ian

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Bunny Lollipops for Spring

Spring is in the air in a big way here in the North Carolina mountains.  The days are getting longer, there are now more warm days than cold ones, and everyone just seems to be in a good mood.  It’s awesome.

So, to celebrate Spring, Jason has been wanting to make something cute and bunny-shaped.  So he decided that he wanted to try his hand at hard candy.  We found some adorable little bunny lolly pop molds, and this is what he came up with:

Bunny Lollipops with Real Fruit Juice

Now, since we try to use as many natural ingredients as we can, and since all the candy recipes we found called for a lot of artificial colors and flavors, we weren’t sure what to do.  But Amanda, my boss, suggested trying fruit juice in a hard candy recipe to replace the water, flavoring, and color.  So we tweaked some old-school recipes , and we were really pleased with the results.

If you want to make these Bunny Lollipops with Real Fruit Juice at home,  you’re going to need:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup (organic, if you can find it)
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons pure fruit juice (we used a blend of cranberry and blackberry)
1/8 teaspoon citric acid (we used Tart and Sour Flavor Enhancer, from LorAnn)

Bunny Lollipops with Real Fruit Juice

So what you do is:

1.  Wipe two lollipop molds with a clean soft dishcloth to remove any dust.  Lightly coat the insides of the molds with nonstick cooking spray and insert sticks.

Bunny Lollipop Molds

2.  Stir together sugar, corn syrup, and juice in a medium-size saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling the pan once or twice.  Cook to 300ºF (hard-crack stage) and immediately remove from heat.

3.  Allow the bubbling to subside, then check the temperature and cool to 260ºF.  Now add the citric acid and swirl the pot to incorporate.

4.  Spoon mixture into molds, filling all the way to the top.

Bunny Lollipops with Real Fruit Juice

5.  Allow lollipops to harden at room temperature for about 30 minutes before unmolding.  Transfer to wax paper and cool completely.   Yield: 8-12 suckers, depending on your mold.

Bunny Lollipops with Real Fruit Juice

It’s as easy as that!  We definitely expected this to be a project we regretted starting at 9:00 pm, but by 10:15 we had awesome, adorable, fruit-flavored lollipops!

Oh, and this recipe is really customizable.  If you want a different flavor, you can make them with any kind of clear juice you want.  And if you want a sour lollipop, just up the citric acid to 1/4 teaspoon per batch.

Doesn’t someone in your life deserve these?  Make them and sit back basking in the adoration of your loved ones today!

Love,

Ian

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Gluten Free Cupcakes and More!

Hey, everybody!  It’s a short post today.  We just added some gorgeous gluten-free cupcakes on our Etsy site; check them out!  Gluten-free baking presents some challenges, but we spent a lot of last year perfecting our gluten-free recipes–and we’re really proud of them!  We’ll be posting a big, beautiful blog post about gluten-free yumminess very soon—stay tuned!

gluten free vegan cupcakes

Today we’re baking the three finalists’ ideas from our Violet Candy Contest!  We’ll post photos of the three finalists (with their recipe ideas) tomorrow, so you can vote on your favorite.  We’ve had a lot of fun choosing the three best ideas, but the winner is up to you!

Ya’ll come back now, ya hear?

Hugs and cupcakes and rainbows,
Jason

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Violet Candy Contest Deadline!

Hey everybody!

Just wanted to remind you that today is the final day to enter the Violet Candy Contest.  Please go check it out, and submit your ideas!  The cutoff is midnight tonight, and we will be picking our finalists tomorrow afternoon.  We are going to make each of the finalists’ recipes, and we will post pictures of them for you to vote on as soon as we can.  So stay tuned, and go submit some excellent ideas!

Love,

Ian

Violet Candies

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Baby Shower Cupcakes

So, as I said in the last post, we were recently hired by my mother to supply baked goods for my sister’s baby shower.  We decided to make the cupcakes in the style of baby bluebirds in nests.  We got the idea from Martha Stewart’s cupcake book, although we modified it greatly.  We not only had to veganize the recipes for the cake and the frosting, we also chose to make the cake almond flavored, the initial layer of buttercream a rich dark chocolate, and the bluebirds out of sweet vanilla buttercream and almond-flavored royal icing.  So, first things first.  We made the cake:

Starting the Cupcake Process

So we started with our usual vanilla cake recipe.  But, instead of adding the regular amount of vanilla, we substituted 1/2 tsp. vanilla and two tsp. almond extract.  The almond we use is very subtle, all-natural extract.  If you are going to use an  artificial almond extract, you could get away with one tsp. almond per dozen cupcakes.

Next, we mixed up a batch of classic chocolate buttercream frosting,  and roughly iced the tops of the cupcakes using an offset spatula.  Then, before the icing set, we heaped lots of toasted sweetened coconut onto each cupcake.  We normally prefer to bake with unsweetened coconut, but the look of these nests requires long shreds of brown coconut.  Here’s Jason applying the coconut.

Adding Coconut to Cupcakes

So, the “nests” were now built.  We decided to fill them with not just baby birds, but also some little marzipan eggs.  Using a chocolate mold in the shape of little eggs, I shaped blue-dyed marzipan into little eggs.  I then speckled each egg with a little more gel color (we used Americolor Sky Blue), to make them look like robins’ eggs.  Since the marzipan has a yellow tint, the eggs ended up coming out a little turquoise.  It wasn’t what we were planning, but they still looked cute.

Marzipan Egg in Coconut Best

I don’t know if you’ve ever worked with marzipan, but it’s tricky.  You see people use it on television or whatever, and they just pick it up, knead it, and shape it into whatever they want.  It’s supposed to be like edible Play-Doh.  Well, if your marzipan is slightly old (as was ours, unbeknownst to us), it gets all dry and crumbly and doesn’t want to work at all.  So, after some Googling, I found out that, if I added a little hot water to the marzipan, I could soften it up.  It took a while, but it ended up working.  So then I had to dye it.  Lets just say that my hands looked like this for days.

Stained Fingers

So, next we had the birds.  I knew that this was going to be a little more challenging/time-consuming.  But oh man, I had no idea how right I’d end up being.  The first step was to make little yellow beaks out of royal icing.  So, we mixed up a batch of royal icing with almond extract in place of water, and I used a small leaf tip to pipe literally hundreds of little yellow beaks onto parchment.  I am no wizard with a pastry bag anyway, and basically anything harder than using a jumbo tip to decorate cupcakes is beyond me.  So it took me a long time to get the hang of piping with a leaf tip.  The good thing about making hundreds of anything, however, is that you get better and better the longer you practice.  I intentionally made the icing a little on the runny side, so that I wouldn’t have perfect leaf shapes with a vein and everything, but instead have something vaguely teardrop-shaped.

Royal Icing Beaks

This was the beginning of my piping attempts.  I promise you they got (ever so slightly) better by the end.  Anyway, the next step in the (now seemingly endless) process of making these cupcakes was to pipe the birds.  Basically, I just made three little round blobs of blue icing in the center of each cupcake to make heads. Then, I inserted two beak-pieces sticking straight up out of each bird head.  The last step was to draw two little eyes on each bird with black gel color and a toothpick.  Here is the final result.

Baby Bluebird Cupcakes

This was a very educational process, and we were pretty happy with the end results.  There was a lot of stress involved, and I think in the future it would probably be wise to not get too ambitious when baking for a job.  We certainly would have had more fun doing something that was, while impressive, still within our comfort zone.  But, we are learning every day as we start this business.

Oh, and I didn’t mention the cookies!  I’ll save it for another post.  Someday, when I am really feeling full of myself, I’ll post about the cookies just to knock me back down a peg or two.  In a word, the cookies were a disaster.  Who knew it took so long for painted-on gel color to dry on royal icing.  Well, not us.  We got some results that I’m sure I’ll be able to laugh about one day.  Today is not that day.

Feeling humble and slightly wiser,

Ian

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Vegan Brownies

Just about everyone loves—or at least likes—brownies.  They may not be your favorite dessert of all time; and they usually don’t win any beauty contests.  But if you say, “I made brownies,” most people will say, “Yes, please.”

Despite this universal love/like of brownies, there is great debate about the texture of the perfect brownie.  Some prefer the gooey, fudgy texture of the box-mix brownie we all grew up with (think church potluck or family Christmas party).  Others view a box-mix brownie as an abomination and will only eat a from-scratch, cakey brownie.  Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle.  I’m not a fan of box mixes (they’re rarely vegan, anyway); but I can’t deny the pleasure of biting into a gooey mess of chocolate crumbs.  Mmmmm.

Vegan Brownies

In our house, brownies often go into the oven late at night, when we really want a sweet treat but don’t feel like running to the store for ingredients.  We always have the ingredients on hand; and we rarely wait for them to cool completely (contrary to every bit of advice from Betty Crocker).

Below is one of the best vegan brownie recipes we’ve used.  You can make them fudgier (by baking for a few minutes less) or firmer and “cakier” (bake the full 32 minutes).  Without further ado, here is the recipe:

6 ounces MoriNu silken tofu
1/2 cup soy milk
1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup white baking chips

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

Puree the tofu, soy milk, and oil in your food processor or blender.  Pour into a large bowl and add the sugar.  Mix well, then stir in the vanilla.

Sift in your dry ingredients (even if you sift nothing else, be sure to sift your cocoa!):  flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder, salt.  Mix until smooth (we use a rubber spatula).  Fold in your chips.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth it out with your handy spatula.

Bake about 32 minutes (or a bit less, depending on your ideal brownie texture).  Cool for as long as you can stand.

best vegan brownies

Ta-da!  They’re so delicious, our friend Jeremy threatened to smack his mama.  Yes, that good.  (Don’t worry, Jeremy, your mom doesn’t read vegan food blogs.)

Do you have a vegan brownie recipe that you love?  Or a specific variation/treatment for brownies that makes you drool?  Let us know!

Love,

Jason

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