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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

For the longest time, I thought that I hated both cupcakes and cake. It was not until about 5 years ago that I discovered that what I really hate is boxed cake, packaged frosting, and the cupcakes sold at your local supermarket deli. In fact, it turns out, I LOVE real cake and cupcakes!

My absolute favorite cupcakes in the universe are the cupcakes sold at Trophy Cupcakes. They are seriously to-die-for! Seattle has more than its fair share of cupcakeries, and as a self-proclaimed cupcake connoisseur, I have tried nearly all of them and am here to tell you, Trophy's are the best of the best. That's why, my cake base in this recipe is based off of one of Trophy's chocolate cupcakes!

The cupcakes are unbelievably moist and chocolatey, but not overly rich. The frosting is creamy and buttery, yet still light thanks to the whipped egg whites. In fact, the buttercream is more than a little addictive and I think you'll find that the fact that the frosting recipe makes more than you need won't be at all an issue :).

I garnished my cupcakes with pink sparkling sugar and candied rose petals.

Chocolate Cupcakes
base recipe from here
makes 2 dozen cupcakes

  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp cocoa powder (no Dutch-processed)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and add in the boiling water and stir to combine.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 of the way up. Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cupcakes to cool 10 minutes in the tin before removing and allowing to cool completely.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
recipe slightly adapted from here

  • 1 1/3 cups caster sugar
  • 7 large egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 lbs (5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. In the (heatproof) bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, salt, and egg whites. Set over a pot of simmering water (making a double boiler) and whisk constantly for about 5-10 minutes until the mixture reaches 160 degrees.
  2. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and beat (on medium-high) the heated mixture for 10 minutes until mixture is lukewarm and stiff, glossy peaks form.
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment and, with the mixer set to medium speed, mix in the vanilla bean and extract. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Coconut Double-Chocolate Cookies (Vegan)

Cookies, specifically chocolate chip cookies, are my first, true baking love. They are the first treats I ever learned to bake myself, and they hold a special place near and dear to my heart. 

These particular cookies are by no means a traditional chocolate chip cookie (that recipe can be found HERE), but man are they addictively tasty! These cookies come together really quickly, and their chewy texture and rich flavor will leave you and your taste-testers questioning how on Earth these are vegan (seriously). 

The coconut oil adds a coconut flavor that is subtle enough not to overpower the cookie, but deepens the overall taste of it in an intriguing manner. Make sure you have a glass on milk on hand (be it cow, soy, almond, etc.), because these babies are ULTRA chocolatey, in the best possible way.

Coconut Double-Chocolate Cookies (Vegan)
recipe from here

  • 1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil, not in liquid form
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet (vegan) chocolate, chips or chopped
  • 3 tbsp ground flax
  • 6 tbsp warm water
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and coconut oil and beat well.
  4. Combine the water and flax and set aside to gel.
  5. Put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave in 30-second-intervals until melted; allow to cool for a minute.
  6. Add the gelled flax and melted chocolate to the coconut oil/sugar and beat until incorporated.
  7. Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Stir in the chocolate.
  8. Scoop 1-2 tablespoon-sized mounts onto your prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a bit before transferring to a wire baking rack to cool further.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Maple, Vanilla Bean, Flax-Almond Butter

Growing up, I was one of very few children who despised peanut butter (what the heck, right?). When I hit middle school, I went from hating the stuff, to being full-blown obsessed. And I seriously mean obsessed. To the point that my best friend, Alana, and I would have competitions to see who could build the largest peanut butter and jelly sandwich, using as little jelly as possible, and as much peanut butter as possible. I'll say that things got a bit out of hand with quadruple deckers and the such with just a minute smear of jam and probably about 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Good thing we were growing kids or I could have easily weighed 800lbs!

Years later, I discovered that peanut butter wasn't the only nut butter out there, and almond butter was introduced to my life. Since then I have tried all of the nut butters that I can find, and have recently been trying my hand at making my own!

You won't believe how easy making your own nut butters is (and, most of the time, cheaper), and it allows for worlds more customization! This almond butter comes from Ashley at Edible Perspective, and my oh my, of the dozens of nut butters I have tried, I think this one holds top spot. It is positively AMAZING! It's ultra creamy, slightly sweet, and satisfyingly salty.
It is hard to get away from eating it by the finger-full, but if you can manage, it makes KILLER PB&Js (technically AB&Js) :). I cannot recommend this recipe any higher; really guys, try this one ASAP!

Maple, Vanilla Bean, Flax-Almond Butter
recipe adapted from here

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1/3 cup whole flax seeds
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup, divided
  • 1/2 whole vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 1tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a sheet pan with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss together the almonds, flax, and 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Spread out on the sheet tray and bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15.
  3. Pour the baked nuts into your food processor and process for around 10 minutes, until nice and creamy, scraping the sides about a dozen times.
  4. Add in the salt, vanilla bean, vanilla extract, and remaining maple syrup. Process for about 5 minutes longer, drizzling in the oil at the end.
  5. Store in an airtight jar.
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