Monday, January 11, 2010

Cupcake War: Vegan Edition


Aaaand I’m back to blogging, with a somewhat triumphant return! Before I get any further into my recent baking exploits, I have to apologize to those of you who have visited rite of cake over the past few (many) months and have been greeted with a stagnating apology post from a million years ago. It was never my intention to let RoC fester for so long and I’m sorry that this blog and any of its readers have been treated like abandoned children while I was caught up in real life drama that I wish never happened. Suffice to say, last semester was stressful beyond all belief both in the complete lack of sleep and plenty of issues that were very hurtful and still confusing to this day, so forgive me in not wanting to spread the personal parts any more than I have to. In short, I’m sorry and I have plenty of recipes lined up and ready to go – thank you for your support (especially Jill, who is such a sweetheart, yay!).

And on to the fun part, the part that I’ve been missing all of these months! The story behind the “Cupcake War” actually ties into my job as a Resident Adviser, in which I’m responsible for 50 freshman girls and creating programs/activities for a dormitory of 400+ girls. This is one of those activities – a sort of coke/pepsi challenge, cupcake style.


Basically I made a batch of 100 mini vegan chocolate cupcakes and 100 regular (Martha Stewart) chocolate cupcakes (both with the standard already vegan Wilton buttercream frosting) and challenged people see if a) they could tell the difference and b) which cupcake they liked best. They had to vote on which cupcake was better without knowing which was the vegan cupcake and then once they decided I would tell them which was which and tally their vote on a giant poster. This was accompanied by informational posters about the pros/cons of veganism and all that jazz to provide an educational activity (aka doing my job).

Fun stuff, right? What was interesting was that most people actually preferred the vegan cupcakes to the regular cupcakes and many people said that they liked both cupcakes evenly. It was a neat experiment and all the girls who participated loved it, so expect some more variations on the Cupcake War and enjoy the recipe below. I’ve only posted the frosting recipe and the vegan cupcake recipe, if you’re interested in some non-vegan cupcakes then go to Martha’s recipe here. Ps sorry about no process pictures, I was baking at night and completely forgot about my camera... Oh well.

Basic (Vegan) Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Makes: 12 cupcakes, or a lot of mini ones

From: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

INGREDIENTS

-1 cup soy milk (I suggest chocolate soy milk)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (I used regular vinegar with success)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract (I went with more vanilla)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular (I used dark chocolate, though I think I would have preferred regular cocoa powder so that the cupcakes were a little less dense)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.
3. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and other extract, if using, to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy.
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK, it will look weird. I was worried, but really you don’t have to be, these are delightful).
5. Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way. Bake 18 to 20 minutes (closer to 10 minutes if making mini-cupcakes), until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting (but feel free to eat them warm without frosting because they’re super tasty then too). It’s not enough to convince me to become vegan (I love dairy and sushi far too much), but it’s always good to have a cupcake to appease almost any crowd.

Buttercream Icing

Source: Wilton
Ingredients:
•1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
•1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or (vegan) margarine softened
•1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
•4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
•2 tablespoons (soy) milk
Makes: About 3 cups of icing.

instructions
(Medium Consistency)
In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

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4 comments:

Jill @ Jillicious Discoveries January 25, 2010 at 8:30 PM  

I just about fell off my chair when I just checked your blog and found a new post!! And then, I couldn't believe that it was from two weeks ago and I missed it!!

I too, have been missing from the blog world it seems this month and I'm taking some time today to catch up on the many, many posts I haven't read.

Anyhow, that is my long way of saying WELCOME BACK and that you were missed!! :)

Wow, an RA in a dorm of 50 girls--that is a lot of work and what a great idea with the cupcake challenge. I have to say, I don't think I've ever had a vegan cupcake and yours look dang good! :)

Andrew Ilardi January 26, 2010 at 12:30 PM  

Dude, Well done! That's awesome you did this.

My mom ate babycakes once and almost fell on the floor. Every omnivore I know always asks me to bring back cupcakes from babycakes when I go.

Power to the VEGAN CUPCAKE!

VeganLisa January 26, 2010 at 12:44 PM  

Fantastic!

I was pretty excited to see your challenge. I think Martha needs to have Terry and Isa on her show!

brie January 29, 2010 at 10:23 PM  

lisa - aww thank you everyone! martha could definitely work with these, they were seriously so tasty!

andrew - i've heard about babycakes but i've never tried any - the cookbook looked lovely

jill - trust me the fact that i updated is almost as surprising to me as it was to you, haha. i'm actually thinking of test driving betty crocker's new gluten free mixes in the next cupcake challenge :) maybe if i'm feeling very productive i'll do it from scratch, but all the gluten flour can be on the expensive side...

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