Archive for June, 2009



Cake Balls

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I had left-over marbled cake pieces and white cream cheese frosting from constructing my Camera Cake, and at that time I didn’t know what to do with them…I ended up freezing the cake and refrigerating the frosting, and a week or so later, I figured out the perfect solution for too much cake: Make Cake Balls! I had heard of them before, and thought they were a little silly, but when I read about them on The Pioneer Woman blog, I became enthralled; I decided they would actually be good…So I whipped up a batch using my left-over cake and frosting.

Basically you just put pieces of cake in your food processor and mix until it’s uniformly crumby, and then mix in frosting till it’s smooth and roll-able. You roll it into balls with your hands, and place the balls on parchment or wax paper. Freeze these balls for at least 2 hours till they’re good and hardened. Then you want to dip them in melted dark chocolate and drizzled some more chocolate on top for aesthetic purposes, and refrigerated the balls overnight to make sure they had a thick crisp outer shell. They were not just “good” but amazing! They looked like truffles, but had a great surprise…With a hard and crunchy exterior, and moist sweet cakey inside that nearly melted in your mouth, these balls were out of this world! I loved them. It was really hard to stop myself from eating hundreds of them, but I exercised as much restraint and willpower as I could muster.

The directions are very easy to follow and totally up for interpretation (I made mine vegan so I couldn’t use the chocolate bark, but used semi-sweet dark chocolate instead). This was a fabulous way to use up extra cake, but could also be made from scratch with a regular cake recipe by baking a whole cake first before crumbling it up. Any flavor cake and frosting will work, and you could coat the outsides of the balls with different kinds of chocolate (dark, white, colored-white chocolate, etc.), for whatever effect you are going for.

And, I cannot emphasize enough how much I think you should make them! Now!

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Mocha Raspberry Muffins

I was trying to produce some power-through-the-end-of-the-school-year treats (for me, but especially for the tutors at Julie’s work), and in this case, that definitely meant adding a large dose of caffeine to my baking! I put black tea in cupcakes, and the next night upped the anty and threw some coffee into my chocolate muffins to make a mocha muffin! Mmm…

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The recipe is adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking but I took out the spices and added some mix-ins of my own. These muffins were absolutely delicious; the cake was fluffy and had a very tender and moist crumb, and they were chock full of tasty additions like instant espresso powder, raspberries, and mini-chocolate chips for a bit of crunchy texture. In the picture above, you can see the little chocolate chips and the pink from the raspberries!

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
6 Tblsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (check the label to make sure it is non-dairy)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer + 4 Tblsp. warm water
2 tsp. instant espresso powder mixed with 1 tsp. hot water, till it dissolves
1 cup almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1/2 cup non-dairy butter, melted (I always like original Earth Balance)
1/2 cup non-dairy semi-sweet mini-chocolate chips
1 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin with non-dairy butter or canola oil spray.
Sift together the flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Blend the Egg Replacer with the warm water till light and creamy.
In a medium bowl, mix together the Egg Replacer and water mixture, almond milk, melted butter, dissolved espresso powder, and sugar. Add this combination to the dry mixture and stir until they are just combined. Gently stir in the chocolate chips and raspberries.
Spoon the mixture into the muffin pan cups (I like to use a large ice cream scoop to do this). The cups should be about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Earl Grey Lemon Chrysanthemum Cupcakes

IMG_8901This was another recipe I made for my new paid gig! It was really fun to come up with this recipe, I had a lot of inspiration from my friend Tara who made very involved Cup O’ Tea Cupcakes (Earl Grey cupcake with Lavender Buttercream (it also had homemade fresh coconut, lemon-rind, and blueberry ice cream, and white chocolate topping, as well as crystallized lavender blossoms. She’s amazing!)), and so I wanted to make my own Earl Grey cupcakes. Here’s my take on the Cup O’ Tea Cupcake!

I made an Earl Grey cupcake, adapting my favorite basic cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World…Simply, I steeped Earl Grey tea bags in my almond milk before using in the recipe, and threw in some ground tea leaves as well as lemon and orange rind into the batter (then you get pretty dark dots of black tea and yellow and orange zest sparkles in the cupcake!). Since lemon and tea go together so well, I decided on a Lemon Buttercream frosting, and piped that on the top in a pretty design. From above, the frosting resembled chrysanthemum flowers, so that’s how the cupcakes got their name…I also added a chocolate topper, which was melted chocolate that I drizzled onto parchment paper and refridgerated until it was hardened, then I broke up the drizzles into pretty shapes and placed them on top of the frosting for an elegant (but easy!) look.

Here’s my recipe:

Cupcake Batter Ingredients:
1 cup almond milk
5 Earl Grey tea bags
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Pour almond milk into a small saucepan. Heat on the stove until nearly boiling, then place 4 of the tea bags in the milk, and remove pot from heat. Cover and let tea steep for 10 minutes. When fully steeped, whisk in the vinegar, and set aside for a few minutes to get good and curdled.
Beat together the almond milk mixture, oil, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Open the remaining tea bag, and in a spice grinder, grind the tea leaves till they resemble a fine powder. Add 1 1/4 teaspoons of this Earl Grey powder to your dry mix. In two batches, add the dry mix to the wet, and mix until no large lumps remain. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, till a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cupcakes sit in the pan for 5 minutes to settle before transferring to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Buttercream Ingredients:
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/8-1/4 cup almond milk

For the frosting, cream together the shortening and margarine until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes. Add the lemon juice, and zest, and continue creaming. Slowly add the almond milk until the frosting reaches your desired consistency, and beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy. Spread or pipe onto the tops of your cupcakes in whatever design you choose.

Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Bars

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I got Hannah Kaminsky’s book My Sweet Vegan for my birthday a few weeks ago, and I’ve been drooling over the delicious-looking treats pictured inside it ever since. I finally got a chance to make something, and the Butterscotch Blondies really tugged at my heart-strings so I made them first. I decided to add chocolate chips, because, honestly, it’s hard for me to bake without chocolate! Also, this was for my first “real” paid baking job! My dear friend Julie’s boss hired me to bake a set of desserts for his staff, so in the next couple of days I’ll be baking up a storm and posting pictures for you to see all the goodies!

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These bars were very good, and the butterscotch taste was right on. However, the texture was nowhere near what Hannah’s photograph looked like; while the tops were nice and moist, the inside crumb of mine came out fluffy and more cake-like, while her’s looked fudgey and had much more of a brownie consistency (but made out of blondie-material). I was a little disappointed, but I’m hoping that next time I can just leave out a bit of the baking powder and get the same results she did. In any case, they tasted great, so I’m sure I’ll be making them again!

Marbled Camera Cake

I am a volunteer mentor with an awesome organization called First Exposures, where we pair mentoring youth with photography (we teach both traditional black & white and color darkroom work, as well as digital photography skills). We meet once a week throughout the school year, and it is really fun! Last week was our very last class of the semester, and we had a potluck to celebrate the end of the year. I brought a dessert, of course, and was very inspired to make a camera-shaped cake. I got a little over-ambitious, and honestly I spent much too long on this cake to be a sane person. But, I did make it, and it looked great! I couldn’t decide between chocolate and vanilla cake, so I combined the two and made a marble cake! Here are some photos of the finished cake, followed by some pictures of the construction. It is based on the Pentax K1000 manual camera, which is the camera that all our darkroom students use.

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I made one layer cake and one 8-inch round cake, and then measured an actual Pentax K1000 camera and then cut the cakes to proportionate size (notice the measuring tape on the top right of my cutting board…). Yes, I admit to being neurotic sometimes.

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Cookie Dough Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for Sari’s birthday last week. I came up with a million ideas of things to make, but finally settled on Cookie Dough Cupcakes. I had discussed the idea with some friends awhile ago, and then came across a recipe very similar to the one I was planning to make over at Love and Olive Oil. So, with Lindsay’s recipe in mind as well as my own favorite cookie dough and cupcake recipes, I got to work.

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I used my own favorite chocolate chip cookie dough recipe, which is great to eat in both raw and baked forms! The recipe is originally from Vegan Planet. I froze teaspoon-sized balls of dough for about 4 hours before baking the cupcakes. I then made my cupcake batter (Golden Vanilla cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, with a ton of cinnamon added), filled my liners up halfway with batter, and plopped one frozen ball of dough into the middle of each cupcake. When I baked them, the cookie dough balls baked slower than the cupcakes because they were frozen, so in the end they were good undercooked cookie-ball surprises inside each cupcake. I topped each cupcake with a cookie dough buttercream frosting, and an extra sprinkling of mini-chocolate chips.

Cookie Dough Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix together sugar, syrup, and oil. Add applesauce and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, soda, and salt. Add dry to wet; mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. If you want to bake these (for the best chocolate chip cookies ever!), then form the dough into 1-inch balls (or whatever size you prefer) and bake on greased sheets at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. (I bake them for 6-10, depending on size, because I like them underbaked). If you want to use them inside cupcakes, form the dough into teaspoon-sized balls and freeze for at least 2 hours. Save about 1 cup of cookie dough to use in the frosting.

Cupcake Batter Ingredients:
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon (or to taste)
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Whisk the almond milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes to get good and curdled. Beat together the soy milk mixture, oil, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and mix until no large lumps remain. Fill cupcake liners halfway full, and drop a frozen ball of cookie dough into each cupcake. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Ingredients:
3/4 cup Earth Balance, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons almond milk
3/4 cup cookie dough, room temperature

Cream Earth Balance with electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar, half a cup at a time, until well-incorporated. Add almond milk and mix until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add cookie dough, approximately 3/4 cup of it, and mix until combined. Taste, and add more cookie dough if you like. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes, and sprinkle with more mini chocolate chips.

Here you can see the dough-y balls inside the cupcake:

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I also tried few variations of this cupcake, because I was getting together with a friend who doesn’t like chocolate and wanted to bring her a fun dessert. I used the same cinnamon-vanilla cupcake batter, but didn’t add cookie dough. I topped it with some leftover Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting and they got rave reviews!

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The other variation I made was that instead of adding a cookie dough ball to the center of the cupcake, I flattened out some cookie dough and placed it on the top of the unbaked cupcake batter, and let the cookie and cupcake bake together. It formed a nice large cookie-top to the cupcake, which looked cute. The cookie dough didn’t have the same raw/dough-y effect that the balls had, but was a nice addition and fun topping for a cupcake.

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Hazelnut Sponge Cake

I’m finally catching up on my posts about the rest of last week’s many birthday baking and dessert-eating activities! This was one of my favorites, a cake baked specially for my birthday by my mom. It was three light layers of cake – the bottom and top layers were hazelnut and the middle was a vanilla sponge cake. The hazelnut cake was made with an adapted version of my almond cupcake recipe (simply subsituting ground hazelnuts for the almond meal), and the vanilla sponge cake was from Hannah Kaminsky’s lovely cookbook, My Sweet Vegan. In between the layers was a vegan nutella frosting with chopped strawberries, and on the top and sides was slathered a silky smooth vegan chocolate cream cheese icing with more sliced strawberries for decoration. It was truly delicious and a perfect birthday treat!

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Check out the red color that the crushed hazelnuts took on during baking!

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Time To Vote!!!

ice cream cupcakes 2009 180Remember when I made a Piña Colada Ice Cream Cupcake last month? Well, I entered it into an ice cream cupcake contest, and now it’s time to vote on winners!

There are so many exciting and inspiring entries, it’s overwhelming! You can really choose whichever you want to vote on, but I recommend voting on my cupcake or my dear friend Tara’s Cup O’ Tea cupcake, which I had the pleasure of tasting, and even though it had travelled halfway around the world (literally) before I got it, it was mindblowingly delicious!

The voting polls close this Sunday, June 7th, so CLICK HERE NOW and pretty please vote for me!

Here is my original picture submitted: img_25012


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Photos, Original Recipes & Text ©cookiesandcandids 2008-2010 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. If you repost any material from this blog, please give credit by including a link back to me. Thank you!