Category Archives: recipes

Make Your Own Vegan Dog Treats

Dog Treats for our Spoiled DogBack in May, we adopted the most amazing dog in the world.  His name is Louis, and we’re pretty sure he’s half Chihuahua half Pekingese.  And all adorable.  And most importantly for this blog, he is 100% vegan.

And today, we’re making vegan dog treats!  Our dog cannot get enough of these things.  And, because we spoil him rotten, we cannot get enough of giving them to him.  Oh well, at least we’re all happy.

Dog Treats for our Spoiled Dog

If you want to make Vegan Dog Treats, too, you’re gonna need:

1/2 cup soy flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup dried parsley
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

So now you’re going to:

1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Lightly grease two cookie sheets.
2.  In a large bowl, whisk together soy flour, cornmeal, dried parsley, and 1 cup of all-purpose flour.
3.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the stock and canola oil.  Mix until combined.
4.  Add peanut butter and additional 3/4 cup flour and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.  If the dough becomes too stiff to stir, use your hands to knead it until everything is thoroughly combined.
5.  Turn the dough out onto a clean counter, and use a rolling pin to roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.
6.  Use mini cookie cutters to cut out individual cookies and place them on the prepared cookie sheets.

Dog Treats for our Spoiled Dog
Dog Treats for our Spoiled Dog7.  Bake the cookies for 20-25 minutes, or until very well done.  Be careful not to burn them, but they can certainly get a little dark.
8.  Air dry on wire racks for at least 8 hours before serving.

OK, so let’s talk about these things.  First, you want to be sure to take the cookie size into account when baking.  If your dog is a bull mastiff, it’s totally fine to make really big cookies for him or her.  Just increase the baking time to 30 minutes or so.

Also, storage can be a little tricky.  In the summer in the South, it gets humid.  So humid, in fact, that these cookies don’t harden at room temp like they’re supposed to.  The first batch of these we made molded in their jar in less than a week.  The second ones, we baked a second time (a la biscotti), and had slightly better results.  This time around, however, we aren’t taking any chances.  After the 8 hour cooling period, we store these cookies in a tight-sealing jar in the freezer.

Dog Treats for our Spoiled DogThis seems to have done the trick, and our wacky dog seems to like the frozen treats even more than room-temperature ones.  So that’s what we’d recommend.  Just look at that happy, spoiled dog.

Dog Treats for our Spoiled DogAnd here, because I’m just sure that you want to see as much of Louis as I do, is a video I made of him eating these treats.  This was my first foray into film making/editing, and I know it’s not the best quality, but I think you get the picture.

Vegan Dog Treats for our Spoiled Chihuahua from Ian Grout on Vimeo.

OK, so I know that saying that my dog is vegan is a kind of hot-button announcement to make, and if you have any questions about how you can have a happy, healthy vegan dog, you’re welcome to email me at SugarbombBakery@Yahoo.com.  Please don’t, however, leave negative comments on this blog post.  I’d love to facilitate discussion, but I really don’t want to start an ideological battle.  So let’s all be nice, OK?  Thank you.

And, lest I take myself too seriously, here’s Louis one more time.

Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

So for the shop this week, I more of a variety of cupcakes than I ever have before.  I thought I had so many tricks up my sleeve, but I totally exhausted my repertoire after about four days.  Not that I can’t have duplicates, but I’m really challenging myself to see how many different varieties I can come up with.

So this recipe is actually one that I made once before with OK results.  I decided to tackle it again, and see if I could get it right this time.  So if you want to make these Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache, you’re gonna need:

1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

So you want to:
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line your muffin tin with silver foil liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Sift in the cocoa.  Seriously, you guys, sift it.  I wouldn’t say that if it wasn’t important.  Now whisk this mixture together for about thirty seconds, to make sure it’s evenly mixed.
3. Pour the almond milk into a glass measuring cup and add the vinegar to it. Let this mixture sit a few minutes, until the almond milk looks slightly curdled.
4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar until very well combined. Add the extracts. Now beat in the curdled almond milk.
5. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and beat with a whisk until the batter looks very smooth. Don’t worry about over-mixing; it’s better to beat it until there are no lumps left.
6. Fill your baking cups two-thirds of the way full with batter (usually about a scant quarter cup of batter per cupcake).
7. Bake at 350ºF for twenty minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the biggest cupcake comes out mostly clean. A few moist crumbs on the toothpick are absolutely fine.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

OK, so the Raspberry Buttercream Recipe we used is based on one from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s book, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Here goes:

1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon soy milk
3 tablespoons raspberry syrup, divided (the kind they use in coffee shops)
Drop of red food coloring (optional)

So now you:
1. Beat together the shortening and margarine with a stand mixer or hand mixer until it is all fluffy.
2. Sift in your confectioner’s sugar (and yes, you have to sift it. I know, it sucks, but you don’t want lumpy frosting, do you? No, you do not).
3. Beat the sugar and fats until, miraculously, the combine to form small, pebble-sized crumbs. This takes a few minutes — maybe five on the outside. Don’t be afraid to run your mixer that long, it loves it.
4. Once combined, drizzle in the soy milk, along with two tablespoons of syrup and, and beat for several minutes. If, in about three minutes, your frosting looks really stiff, add the third tablespoon of syrup. Beat for another minute or two, until it’s all nice and fluffy.
5. Taste your frosting. It should be smooth and creamy, with a fairly strong raspberry flavor. If it is not like that, add more raspberry syrup, about half a teaspoon at a time until it is awesome.  Now add a tiny, tiny bit of food coloring, if you want.  Totally up to you.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

Then, with the handle of a wooden spoon, poke a hole into the top of each cooled cupcake.  Now you’re ready to fill them.  The easiest way to do this is with a piping bag fitted with a small round pastry tip.  Pipe frosting in until it is even with the top of your cake.  Smooth the top, if necessary, with a spatula.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

So let’s make our Chocolate Ganache!  You need:

8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated shortening

So you’re going to:
1.  In a medium-sized saucepan, bring about a cup of water to a simmer.
2.  Place a heat-proof bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure it doesn’t touch the water.
3.  Add the chocolate and shortening to the bowl, and stir occasionally until it’s totally melted.
4.  Dip your cupcakes one at a time in the melted chocolate mixture, shaking off the excess.
5.  Place your dipped cupcakes in the freezer until the chocolate is set.
6.  Repeat this process, dipping each cupcake a second time.
7.  If desired, melt white chocolate chips using the same technique as above.  Add the melted white chocolate to a piping bag, and drizzle over the tops of all the cupcakes.  Place the cupcakes back in the freezer until the chocolate is totally set.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

These are super-delicious, and the people who bought them were really pleased.  I have also learned that the frosting recipes that I usually make are pretty heat-sensitive.  So, while I was perfecting a frosting recipe that could sit in a lighted display case all day without melting, these were a life-saver.  Because the melty frosting is inside the cake, and the ganache on top stays really firm, these are a great cupcake to bring to, say, a picnic where they will be in the heat all day.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

So go make these and be happy!

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Tempeh Sausage in Puff Pastry

Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs

You guys, I haven’t abandoned you.  Seriously.  I have been working like a madman the last couple of weeks trying to get Bake it Pretty set up all bakery-style and hire somebody to work with.  So, suffice it to say that I’ve been busy.  On that note, I haven’t made anything new and blog-worthy in a while.  Luckily, I have a very small stash of stuff that I have made previously that I can blog about.  So today we’re going to talk about one of my old standbys.

Two years ago, I had a big brunch party for my birthday.  It was awesome.  Lots of friends came, and lots of people brought really amazing vegan food.  Moreover, several of my very very non-vegan friends had the opportunity to try really excellent vegan food for the first time.

So I made scrambled tofu, cinnamon rolls, roasted potatoes, and tempeh sausage pastry puffs.  The recipe for the latter came from the amazing book Vegan Brunch by the amazing author Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  You may have realized by now that I am a huge devotee of Isa.  Her cookbooks are remarkably readable, and her recipes are often spectacular.  I highly recommend her books in general, and I very highly recommend this book in particular.  For whatever reason, it seems not to have gotten as much praise as her other more popular books.  But there are some incredible recipes in here, and it’s absolutely worth buying.

Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs

Anyway, on my brunch day, I made these pastry puffs.  And they are as easy to make as they are delicious and impressive.  If you wanna make Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs, you’re gonna need:

8 ounces tempeh, crumbled
1 package vegan puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator overnight
1 cup vegetable broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced as finely as you can
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt

Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs

So you’re going to:
1.  Combine vegetable broth, soy sauce, and lemon juice in a small bowl.  Add the tempeh and marinate for one hour (or longer if you want).  Drain, reserving the marinade.
2.  With a mortar and pestle, grind your fennel seeds until there are no whole ones left.  This takes a while, and some elbow grease.  But stick with it.  Once the fennel is all ground, add the remaining spices and grind a few more times to make sure everything’s all fragrant.
Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs
3.  Preheat your oven to 400°F.  Preheat a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat.  Add the red bell pepper and onion, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and spices, and saute another 3 minutes.
4.  Add the drained tempeh to the pan, and cook for about 15 minutes.  If the mixture starts to stick, add a splash of marinade at a time to unstick everything.  Keep a close eye on it to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn.
5.  Now we’re going to prepare the pastry.  If you haven’t worked with puff pastry before, don’t worry:  It’s totally easy.  So what you do is unfold one pastry sheet, and cut it into nine pieces.  Arrange them on a greased cookie sheet about an inch apart. Thoroughly spray the tops of each pastry square with nonstick cooking spray.  Repeat with the other pastry sheet.
6.  Now place a heaping tablespoon of the tempeh mixture in the center of each square.

Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs

7.  Bake at 400°F for 18 to 20 minutes, until the pastry is super puffy and golden brown on top.  Yum.

Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs

The offensive meat has been censored from this picture

So we made these for Easter, along with our Cinnamon Rolls.  Mmmmm . . . so much bread.  We actually made these because my mom, having had them at my birthday party a couple of years ago, now requests them whenever we’re all having brunch.  Even my super-omni, sausage loving stepdad is crazy for our crazy fermented soy sausage pastries.  And that’s impressive.

Easter Brunch with Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs

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Vegan Pizza with Homemade Crust!

Vegan Pizza with Homemade Crust

Ding dang, you guys.  I have been so busy at work.   You remember, a couple of weeks ago, when I told you that I was going to be selling cupcakes at work soon?  Well, that soon is Friday.  But before that can happen, we basically have to transform the retail shop into a bakery, and hire someone to work in it.  So, we’ve got our hands full.

Luckily, I had the foresight on Monday (my day off) to realize that, since I was going to be crazy busy this week, I needed to take care of myself while I could.  So I spent the day doing as little work-related stuff as possible.  And I did something I rarely do:  I made pizza.

Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza.  A little too much actually, and that’s the problem.  Jason and I can polish off a pizza between the two of us in about twenty minutes.  So in our house, pizza is a sometimes-treat.  And while it’s not hard to make, it is a little time-intensive.  We often don’t have the time to start dinner a couple of hours before we eat.  But it was the perfect project for a day off.

Oh, and just so you know, I’m going to tell you how to  make this dough in an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  If you don’t have these things, just knead with your hands instead.  No big thing.

The pizza dough recipe I use (always) is from Vegan with a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  I always start exactly like her recipe does, but I get all crazy about half way through, and really do it my own way.  The following recipe is for how I do things.

Vegan Pizza with Homemade Crust

To make this Pizza Dough, you’re gonna need:

1 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 (1/4-ounce) package dry yeast (not rapid-rise!)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the rising bowl
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Now, you’re going to:
1.  Proof your yeast: Measure your water into a glass measuring cup, and stir in the sugar.  Now add the whole packet of yeast on top of the water/sugar mixture, and stir lightly until the yeast is just wet.  Place the measuring cup in a warm place for about ten minutes (see the notes at the bottom).  When you come back to check it, if it’s all covered with crazy, foamy, yeasty-smelling goop, it’s . . . ALIVE!  Which is a good thing.
2.  Place your flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixture, and stir to combine.  Pour in the proofed yeast mixture and olive oil.  Use a wooden spoon to stir everything together.  It will pretty quickly become unstirrably thick.  Now it’s time to knead.
3.  Fit your mixer with a dough hook, and follow your manufacturer’s instructions as to how to use it.  You probably d0n’t want to turn your mixer up higher than the lowest setting.  Anyway, beat the dough for between six and eight minutes, stopping to scrape the excess flour into the mix often in the first couple of minutes.  You will know your dough is ready when it feels cohesive, stretchy, and just slightly sticky to the touch.  If, after a couple of minutes, it is feeling really wet, you can add a tablespoon or so of extra flour.  If it’s too dry, you can add a little water, maybe a teaspoon or so.
4.  So when your dough is finished kneading, take it out of the bowl and throw it from one hand to the other about ten times.  It should now be in a ball (that’s Jason’s trick.  Isn’t it awesome?).  Place that ball in a well-oiled bowl (not the one from your mixer) and cover it loosely with a damp dish towel.  Place it in a warm spot, and let it rise until doubled, an hour or so.
5.  Here’s everyone’s favorite part:  With your fist, punch your dough firmly once to deflate it.  Now turn the dough out onto a clean surface and stretch and knead it with your hands for a minute or two.  This won’t be serious work, you’re just getting it back to the texture it was before it rose.  Once you’ve achieved that, place it back in the bowl, covered, back in a warm place.
6.  At this point, the dough is totally forgiving.  I would recommend letting it sit at least an hour, but you could probably use it sooner, if you had to.  The best flavor, in my opinion, comes from letting it sit for three or four hours.
7.  When you’re ready to use it, Preheat your oven to 500°F.  Place a pizza stone in the oven right when you turn it on.
8.  Now, cut the dough in half, and take one half and stretch it and flatten it until it’s vaguely disc-shaped.  Then, start to stretch it.  An easy way to do this is to hold the disc with both hands and let the dough hang down until it seems like it’s about to rip.  Then move your hands a little to the left, and let the dough hang again.  Keep at it until the whole deal is roughly the size/shape you want it.
8.  Now, lay your dough out on a sheet of parchment paper on top of a large, flat cutting board. Further position it into the shape you want.  Now, spray the edge all around with non-stick cooking spray.  Then, build your pizza however you see fit.  See below for our suggestions.   When it’s all ready, open the oven and slide the parchment off the cutting board right onto the pizza stone.  Bake your pizza at 500°F for  10-15 minutes, until the crust is thick and golden brown.  Yum.


Vegan Pizza with Homemade Crust

OK, so let’s talk about all of this.  First, I use parchment instead of cornmeal for a couple of reasons.  Mainly it’s because I don’t really like the texture of cornmeal on the bottom of a pizza crust.  Also, no matter how much cornmeal I have ever used, I can never get the unbaked pizza to slide off the cutting board.  And parchment is really handy when removing the pizza from the oven.  You just grab a corner and go.

Another thing is, I have heard that it is somehow possible to make homemade pizza dough totally round and beautiful and not all rustic-looking.  I don’t believe it for a second.  I have made this recipe a lot, and it is not possible for me to get an evenly round crust.  I like that though.  Especially on the browned parchment, I feel like it looks like the peasant food it is.  Like, all Martha or whatever.

Vegan Pizza with Homemade Crust

Oh, and one last thing.  Our house is cold unless it’s hot.  That is, it is hardly ever warm or cool, so it’s hard for us to find a warm place for yeast to proof and dough to rise.  So here’s what I suggest.  Turn your oven on to 350°F and immediately set a timer for two minutes.  As soon as your timer goes off, turn off the oven.  Then put your yeast mixture or your kneaded dough in the oven and let it rest for your rising time.

So we made two different pizzas.  The first one was direct from Vegan with a Vengeance, and it’s called the Isa Pizza.  We’ve made this one a lot, and we love it.  It has pizza sauce, tofu ricotta, pesto, kalamata olives, and mushrooms.  Dang that pizza is good.

Vegan Pizza with Homemade Crust

The second one we made we called the Omnivore’s Dilemma, since it’s covered in a bunch of fake meat and cheese.  It has pizza sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, spinach, mushrooms, thick-sliced garlic, tofu ricotta, Gardein chicken, Daiya mozzarella.  Oh my god, you guys.  This pizza was all melty, garlicky, meaty, and awesome.

Vegan Pizza with Homemade Crust

So, if you have a few hours, I would highly recommend making some homemade pizza.  And if you want leftovers, don’t invite us!

Jason Hearts Pizza

Love,

Ian

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The World’s Best Vegan Cinnamon Rolls!

This is the longest post ever.  Sorry.  Oh, and it’s about Easter.

Ugh.

Easter.

We had to make something for Easter brunch at my mom’s house.  What she expected us to make (as always) was something totally simple, like scrambled tofu.  What we delivered (as always) was something way more elaborate.  Someday I will let Jason sleep in on a holiday.  But not anytime soon.  So we decided to make cinnamon rolls.

The World's Best Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls are actually Jason’s recipe, which he found online a long, long time ago.  And, since back then we didn’t have a blog where we posted recipes all the time, he didn’t write down the source of this recipe.  I normally wouldn’t just share somebody’s recipe without giving them credit, but this time I have to.  Because these cinnamon rolls are SO GOOD!

They are very much in the style of the overly sweet, desert-y type cinnamon rolls that mall chain-stores sell.  If you don’t like cinnamon rolls to be super-sweet and covered in icing . . . well, you should.  So here’s Jason’s recipe:

The World’s Best Vegan Cinnamon Rolls!

You’re gonna need:

2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (one packet)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup soy milk, warm but not hot
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
6 tablespoons warm water
2/3 cup margarine, melted and divided
4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

For the Cream Cheese Frosting, you’re gonna need:

6 ounces of vegan cream cheese (we used Follow Your Heart brand)
1/2 cup melted margarine
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

So what you do is:

1.  Mix the yeast, sugar, and warm soy milk in a large mixing bowl and let it stand in a warm place until it gets all foamy and proofed.  This can take up to ten minutes.  If, after that time, your mixture doesn’t have a layer of foam on top, discard it and try again.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk the ground flax seed with the warm water for a couple of minutes until it is really thick and goopy.  That’s right.  Goopy.
3.  Now add 1/3 of a cup melted margarine, along with the flour and salt to the flax seed mixture.  Pour in the yeast mixture, and stir to combine.  It will very quickly get too thick to stir.  At this point, turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface.
4.  Knead it for 5-10 minutes.  Jason really likes to knead, so he did it for 10 whole minutes.  What we’re looking for is a dough that is firm and smooth, without being sticky at all.  If your dough isn’t like this, keep kneading until it is.
5.  Form your dough into a ball, and place in a well-oiled bowl covered by a damp dishtowel.  Put that whole thing in a warm place (like an oven you’ve pre-heated for 2 minutes and then turned off), and let it stay there for an hour.  It should double in size.  Also, when you press the dough lightly with one finger, it should leave a lasting indentation.
The World's Best Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
6.  While your dough is rising, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Melt the remaining 1/3 cup margarine.
7.  Now that your dough is done rising, turn it out on a floured surface and let it sit, covered, for ten more minutes.  Then, roll it out into a rectangle that it is between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch thick.
The World's Best Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
8.  Coat the whole surface with melted margarine, and then evenly coat it with the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.
The World's Best Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

The World's Best Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

9.  Roll it into a big log, and cut it into 12 equal-sized rolls. Place the rolls on a greased cookie sheet, and cover and let rise again.  This time they should double in size in about 30 minutes (but they can sit in the fridge overnight, if you want).
The World's Best Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
10.  Preheat your oven to 400°F.  Bake your delicious cinnamon rolls until golden brown, between 10 – 15 minutes.
The World's Best Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
11.  When your cinnamon rolls are finished baking, make your icing.  Beat together all the frosting ingredients together until totally combined and smooth.  Spread the frosting on warm cinnamon rolls just before serving.

The World's Best Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

So these were amazing.  And Easter was actually great.  My mom The Easter bunny got us an Easter basket full of vegetable-themed stuff (like cabbage-shaped salt and pepper shakers and a carrot-shaped vegetable peeler) and vegan truffles!  It was awesome.  I hope you guys had a good holiday, if you chose to.  And I hope that you make these cinnamon rolls soon.

Oh, and here’s some things you should know about this recipe.

First, don’t be afraid to start over if your yeast doesn’t proof.  It sucks to waste that much milk and sugar, but it sucks way worse to have flat, dense cinnamon rolls.  Our first batch of yeast was dead, so see?  It happens to everyone!

Also, we tried Follow Your Heart brand cream cheese this time (instead of our usual Tofutti), and we liked it way better!  The texture is nice, the flavor on its own is much less “tofu-y,” and it has way better ingredients.  If you care about that stuff (like we do).

Lastly, don’t be afraid of all the fat and sugar in these.  They are not health food, they are special occasion, wow your omni family food.  They are a lot of work and they take a lot of time.  If you’re going to do all of that work, don’t skimp on the fat.  Isn’t it better to eat one amazing cinnamon roll than four really lacking ones?  It is.  Take it from one who knows.

Love,

Ian

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Lavender Cupcakes with Fluffy Lemon Buttercream

You guys, I am so sick.  I’ve been trying to get in the kitchen for two days now trying to bake something to blog about.  And, well, I just keep ending up on the couch watching old Glee episodes.  (Oh, so we just got Netflix and we’re streaming all of these TV shows we never saw since we don’t have cable or whatever.  And everyone kept saying that I would love Glee, and I was all like “yeah, whatever”.  But it turns out that, um, duh.  It’s a show about queer (and queer-ish) kids who break into song to impress their totally hot teacher.  OF COURSE I love it.  But that’s neither here nor there.)

Violet Cupcakes with Fluffy Lemon Buttercream

So anyway, I really want to be baking for you guys, but I am just exhausted.  But I really need to post something, so I thought I’d share one of the recipes from the the Violet Candy Contest from a month or so ago.  The winning entry was from Michael, and he wrote, “First, I would make a fresh lavender cupcake. For the top, I’d make a lemon buttercream frosting. To decorate them, I’d crush some of the violet candies together with some fresh lavender to make a shiny/sparkly Violet/Lavender dust to sprinkle on top of the buttercream and top each with one of the violet candies. Mmmm, my mouth is watering.”

So we came up with this:

Violet Cupcakes with Fluffy Lemon Buttercream

And here’s how we did it.  If you want to make Lavender Cupcakes with Fluffy Lemon Buttercream, you’re gonna need:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

So then, you:
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line your muffin tin with the cutest, springiest liners you can find.  We got ours here.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk this mixture together for about thirty seconds, to make sure it’s evenly mixed.
3.  Place the dried lavender in a clean coffee grinder, and pulse once or twice until the lavender is in much smaller pieces, but has not turned to powder.  This takes a lot less time than you may imagine, so be careful.  Alternatively, you can just place the flowers on a cutting board and chop them carefully with a very sharp knife.  Either way, add the chopped lavender to the dry mixture and whisk to combine.
4. Pour the almond milk into a glass measuring cup and add the vinegar to it. Let this mixture sit a few minutes, until the almond milk looks slightly curdled.
5. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar until very well combined. Add the extracts. Now beat in the curdled almond milk.
6. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and beat with a whisk until the batter looks very smooth. Don’t worry about over-mixing; it’s better to beat it until there are no lumps left.
7. Fill your baking cups two-thirds of the way full with batter (usually about a scant quarter cup of batter per cupcake).
8. Bake at 350ºF for twenty minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the biggest cupcake comes out mostly clean. A few moist crumbs on the toothpick are absolutely fine.

Now, let your cupcakes cool completely. Once they are totally cool (like you), start making your frosting. Don’t start it before your cakes have finished cooling, because the frosting doesn’t want to sit around waiting for the cupcakes.

Violet Cupcakes with Fluffy Lemon Buttercream

Now let’s make some Fluffy Lemon Buttercream!  You’re gonna need:

1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup margarine
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
4-5 tablespoons soy milk
1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Drop of yellow food coloring (optional)

So now you:
1. Beat together the shortening and margarine with a stand mixer or hand mixer until it is just combined and all the same color.
2. Sift in your confectioner’s sugar (and yes, you have to sift it. I know, it sucks, but you don’t want lumpy frosting, do you? No, you do not).
3. Beat the sugar and fats until, miraculously, the combine to form small, pebble-sized crumbs. Keep beating, and the crumbs will start to disappear and the mixture will sort of homogenize.  That’s what we’re going for.  It takes a few minutes — maybe seven on the outside. Don’t be afraid to run your mixer that long, it loves it.
4. Once combined, drizzle in four tablespoons of milk and all the extracts, and beat for about a minute.  Now scrape down the sides and assess.  Does this frosting look really thick?  If so, add another tablespoon of milk.  Be careful not to make it too thin, though.  Anyway, beat the whole thing for another 2-5 minutes, until it’s all nice and fluffy.
5. Taste your frosting. It should be slightly firm, but very creamy, with a strong lemon flavor. If it is not like that, add more lemon extract, about quarter teaspoon at a time until it is awesome.  Now add a tiny, tiny bit of food coloring, if you want.  Totally up to you.

Violet Candies
So what we did next was make the Violet/Lavender Glitter, and if you want to do this, you’re gonna need:

1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
Scant 1/4 cup violet hard candies

So you’re gonna:
1.  Combine both ingredients in a clean, dry (!) coffee grinder or food grinder.
2.  Pulse just once or twice to start to crumble the candies.  Be very careful at this point, as the line between crushed candies and dust is really fine one.  You can always pulse a few more times, if you need to.
3.  Now transfer the mixture to a fine mesh sieve over a small bowl, and shake really, really well.  You want to remove as much dust as you possibly can.  Trust me on this, you guys.  Dust, even candy dust, is not appealing on cupcakes.
4.  Sprinkle the mixture really sparingly over the top of your frosted cupcakes before the icing has totally set.
5.  If desired, you can top each cupcake with a single violet candy.  Awwww.

Violet Cupcakes with Fluffy Lemon Buttercream

Oh, and you know what these would be good for?  Mother’s Day.  I mean, doesn’t your mom like flowers and sugar?  You know she does.  And she especially loves anything you made.  She told me that.  So go bake for your mom.  Or, if you’re a mom, make someone bake for you.  You deserve it!  Or that could just be the cold medicine talking.

Love,

Ian

One more thing:  Michael lives locally, and we dropped off his cupcakes to him a couple of weeks ago.  The next day, he posted this on our Facebook page:  “THANK YOU FOR THE DELICIOUS CUPCAKES! They were fantastic. LOVED the lemon buttercream. I also LOVED the size of them. Just perfect!”

Well, you’re absolutely welcome, Michael.  We’re so glad you liked them!

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Filed under comfort food, contest, cupcakes, feedback, recipes

Chocolate Mousse Fail

OK you guys.  I haven’t posted in a couple of days.  And do you want to know why?  It’s because I have been getting put in my place by some stupid chocolate mousse.

Here’s what happened:  I had read online about a chocolate mousse recipe created by the molecular gastronomy pioneer Hervé This.  It contains only two ingredients: chocolate and water.  And the whole thing is that, while conventional cooking wisdom tells us not to mix chocolate an water (or the chocolate will seize up, making it grainy and gross), this mousse is supposed to be smooth, chocolaty and delicious.

So the first recipe I tried said to combine equal amounts of chocolate and boiling water in a bowl.

Failed Chocolate Mousse

Failed Chocolate Mousse

Failed Chocolate Mousse

Then whisk until the chocolate was totally melted.

Failed Chocolate MousseThen, put that whole thing in an ice bath, and whisk like crazy.

Failed Chocolate MousseI didn’t get any pictures of me whisking, but trust me, it was crazy.  And it’s supposed to thicken and turn into mousse.  And after a couple of minutes, it even started to get thicker.  So I start congratulating myself on my awesomeness.  And then it stops thickening.  Crap.  So I’m thinking maybe the ice bath isn’t cold enough any more.  So I re-melt the chocolate, get more ice in the ice bath this time and try again.  Same thing happens.  So I get a little crazed.  I think maybe I’m not whisking fast enough.

Hey, you know what whisks really well?  The stand mixer.

Failed Chocolate Mousse

Oh, crap I’m making a mess.  Oh well, at least it’s not all over my clothes, dishes, cabinets, floors, and body.  Oh, wait . . .

Failed Chocolate MousseDang.

So, I poured the whole mess in a cup, put it in the fridge, and hoped for the best.  Here’s what I got the next day:

Failed Chocolate MousseWell, this is decidedly not mousse.  So I tried again.  This time I started with a more precise recipe (which I got here).  So I measure out my 200 milliliters of water and my 225 grams of chocolate, and I melt them together in a saucepan.

Failed Chocolate MousseThen I put the mixture in a bowl over an ice bath and whisk like crazy.

This is getting ridiculous!So after about two minutes, the whole thing is thickening, and I am so excited that at last my hard work is paying off!  And then, surprise!  It stops thickening.  Dang.  So I pour it into a glass, put it in the freezer, and hope for the best.

Failed Chocolate MousseI have a feeling that this isn’t going to end well, either.  So at the end of this whole process, I have a ruined shirt, a filthy kitchen, chocolate in my eyebrows, and no mousse.  Sigh.

But I’m not giving up!  I am going to figure out this stupid mousse if it kills me.  And if you’ve ever made it and had it come out, please let me know the secret!

Not looking forward to the cleanup,

Ian

 

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Filed under chocolate, life stuff, recipes