Archive for August, 2009

Cherry Tomato Cupcake Poppers

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It seems like everyone’s tomato plants are bursting with red ripe tomatoes of all sizes. I’ve been making lots of fresh tomato salads and sauces, and eating them plain right off the vine. What a glorious hot summer treat!

Last year, I made Tomato Cupcakes for a tomato party that I hosted at my apartment. This year, my friends Rachel, Dia, and Kelly hosted their own tomato party, but this time with a little twist; their garden was overflowing with cherry tomatoes, so it was really a Cherry Tomato Party! I’ve been super busy and didn’t feel like I had time to experiment with creating a completely new tomato-based dessert recipe, so I just adapted my Tomato Cupcake recipe from last year. Because of the cherry tomato theme, I baked these in mini cupcake tins, so they were small and cute like the tiny tomatoes that we were celebrating. I also made them gluten-free for one of the hosts.

I based my recipe on the Chocolate Gluten Freedom Cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, but I adapted the recipe to add tomato into it so it would be similar to the tomato-chocolate cake recipe from one of my favorite children’s books Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco. In this story, a young girl visits her grandmother’s farm and is frightened by the loud thunder that she hears at the beginning of an oncoming midwest thunderstorm. She hides under the bed in fear, until her grandmother coaxes her out by the promise of baking a delicious chocolate cake. She sends the child around the farm to collect all the ingredients, and she has to count the seconds between thunder and lightning to make sure she’ll get home before the storm really hits. They bake the cake and get to eat it just as the rain starts pouring down outside their cozy farmhouse. It is a very sweet story with a sweet ending – the recipe is included in the back of the book! The secret ingredient in this cake is the tomato puree that they put into it, and I used to make this cake when I was growing up all the time (along with the Lightnight Cake from Joy of Cooking). Last year, I simply veganized it, but this year wanted to make it gluten-free as well.

Unlike many gluten-free desserts, these came out light and fluffy and you couldn’t even tell they were gluten-free. I think this had a lot to do with the tapioca flour, which I’ll be using more since I liked the outcome so much! The cakes were decidedly chocolatey and you couldn’t really taste the tomato in the batter – next time I might work on this a little bit, to see if I can get the flavor to come out a little more. The tomato paste in the frosting has a stronger taste, but it’s sweet and combines with the cream cheese nicely (bagels with cream cheese and tomatoes on top are delicious, why not in frosting form?). The idea of tomato paste in the frosting seems to put everyone off from them before they taste it, but after the first bite they are addicted – I think everyone ate at least two of these little cupcake poppers!

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Tomato Cupcake Ingredients:
2 large ripe red tomatoes
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Tomato Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
3 oz. Tofutti cream cheese
1 Tblsp. Earth Balance margarine
3 Tblsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Cherry Tomatoes on Foodista

Preheat oven to 350*F and line muffin tray with cupcake liners, or grease the pan well.
Blend your tomatoes in a blender or food processor. You only need 1 cup of this tomato puree, so you can measure that out and set aside.
In a measuring cup, combine almond milk and vinegar. Set aside to curdle for a few minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of tomato puree, canola oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix with an electric mixer on medium speed to make sure the sugar is thoroughly combined. Add the almond milk/vinegar mixture and stir in.
In a medium bowl, combine all the flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift this dry mix into your wet mix. Mix on medium-high for about 2 minutes. It’s important to mix really well and you don’t have to worry about over-mixing because there is no gluten.
Fill cupcake tins a little over three-quarters full. These won’t rise as much as traditional cupcakes so you can fill them a little more than usual.
If you use a regular muffin tin, then bake for 20-23 minutes. If you used a mini muffin pan, bake for 10-13 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted through the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and margarine together with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy and smooth. Add the tomato paste and continue beating. You can add more or less tomato paste, depending on your flavor preference. Add the confectioner’s sugar into the bowl a quarter cup at a time, beating well in between each addition. When smooth, you can spread the frosting onto the tops of your cupcakes. I topped mine with some cherry tomato stems.

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Gluten Free Agave-Sweetened Peanut Butter Cookies

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A lot of people in my life have been trying to cut down on the amount of processed sugars, wheat, and/or gluten in their diets. I’m always excited and interested in baking experiments, and want everyone to be able to have a treat, so I decided to bake some cookies that my friends could eat. I knew that one of them specifically loves peanut butter cookies, and another loves peanut butter in any form, so I decided that more peanut butter baking was the way to go. Usually when I bake gluten-free desserts, I use a mix of rice flour and almond meal, but having neither on hand, I had to get creative. I made a mix of gluten-free flours that was very nutty, and was a little worried that the cookies would turn out too heavy and dense. I used coconut flour and quinoa flour (both protein packed!) and threw in some tapioca flour to lighten it up. In the end, I decided that the coconut flour really complimented the PB very well, so I’m glad I went with that. The cookies were not too heavy and they were chewy just the way a regular peanut butter cookie should be.

While coming up with the recipe, I realized that I’ve never actually baked using agave as my primary sweetener. I planned to use it this time, but when looking through my cupboards I happened to have some dried dates in the house, and had seen some recipes using date paste as a sweetener, so I decided to mix the two in this recipe. I think they gave the cookies a really nice natural flavor, yet they didn’t make them taste too “healthy”.

The cookies had a great reception (and they were even appreciated by friends who eat regular sugar- and wheat gluten-laden desserts! Some even said they couldn’t taste the difference).

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Ingredients:
*This recipe makes 2 dozen cookies

Wet Mix:
1/2 cup plain unsweetened applesauce
2 Tblsp. coconut oil, melted
1 cup unsweetened, natural, peanut butter (try to use a kind where the oil doesn’t separate out)
3/4 cup dried pitted dates
1/2 cup medium agave
1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder + 2 Tblsp. warm water, blended till frothy
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain unsweetened almond milk

Dry Mix:
1 1/3 cup coconut flour
1 cup tapioca flour
3/4 cup quinoa flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/3 tsp. salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your cookie pan with a silpat baking sheet.
Place about 3/4 cup dates in a bowl of boiling water, and set aside for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Set aside.
Pour out the hot water from the bowl of dates, and place dates in a blender along with about 1/3 cup of new water. Blend on high until it forms a paste (add a little more water if needed).
In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Pour into the dry mix and stir with a large wooden spoon. You may have to work the dough with your hands in order to fully combine all ingredients.
Shape the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place the balls on your prepared pan 1-2 inches apart (these cookies will not spread).
Slightly flatten the dough with a fork in a cross-hatch pattern.
Bake 11-13 minutes. Let cookies sit on pan for 5 minutes to set, and then remove with a spatula and cool on wire racks.

Sweet Summer Sorbets

We’re in the counting-down-stage for the last days (hours even!) of summer. I start school tomorrow to get my teaching credential and Masters in Education. I’m eagerly looking forward to starting classes; I’ve been so interested in teaching, working with children and youth, and reading about pedagogy for so long, and I’m finally going to have a community to discuss and challenge all my ideas with. I have so many reasons to be excited about this school year beginning. But there’s a part of me that is still savoring these last days of freedom, outdoors time, and sun on my skin. I’ve been consciously enjoying all the free time that I have right now, since I’ll be working on overload for the next year (or forever, since teaching is not an easy job!). To celebrate all the summer fruits and flavors that I can get a hold of, and to appreciate summer just a little bit more, I made some refreshing sorbets. There are still beautiful pungent strawberries at the Farmer’s Markets here in California, and peaches and other stone fruits are ripe, juicy, and incredibly sweet, so into the blender and then the ice cream maker they went!

Both of these sorbets had just the right consistency; icy yet smooth, creamy, and sparklingly flavorful. They tasted just like the fruits that were in them, and I can’t think of a better summer snack – in fact, I dare say that these sorbets taste like summer!

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Strawberry Lime Sorbet

Ingredients:
2 lbs. fresh strawberries, hulled
3/4 cup fresh mango, cubed
5 Tblsp. fresh lime juice
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar

Combine all ingredients in your food processor and pulse until smooth. Add more or less sugar and lime till you reach your desired taste.
Place in an ice cream maker and churn as per the directions.
Your ice cream may be very soft when done, and you can certainly eat it that way, but you could also place it in your freezer and it will firm up overnight. If you choose to do this, transfer the sorbet to a freezer-safe container and press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface. Cover and freeze the sorbet until firm, about 3-4 hours.
*This recipe makes about 3 cups.

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Interesting fact: Did you know that peaches and nectarines, along with almonds, are part of the rose family? Thanks, Wikipedia!

Ginger Peach Sorbet

Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds ripe peaches and nectarines (I used 4 peaches and 2 nectarines)
1 cup superfine granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
2 Tblsp. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
1 Tblsp. Amaretto liqueur

Pit, peel, and coarsely chop the peaches and nectarines.
Place fruit, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined.
With the machine running, pour water, lemon juice, and Amaretto through the feeding tube and process for 1 minute or until the sugar is dissolved.
Refrigerate this mixture until well chilled, about 1 hour.
Pour the chilled fruit mix into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer the sorbet to a freezer-safe container and press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface. Cover and freeze the sorbet until firm, about 3-4 hours.
*This recipe makes about 3 cups.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Now, I know you all know about my peanut butter obsession. I put it on nearly everything. But one thing I hadn’t combined it with before was brownies. Of course I’ve combined it with chocolate (in cake, cupcakes, and in ice cream), but not in chewy fudgy brownie form. Truly Appalling.

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I immediately set out to remedy this awful fact. I looked at endless recipes online and in my large vegan cookbook collection, tried to come up with my own favorite brownie recipe, and worried over how I would add the peanut butter – it could be fully incorporated into the brownie batter for a double-whammy rich gooey brownie, it could be a completely separate layer on top (cake-like? a heavy frosting?), or I could swirl it in to partly incorporate it. After many nights staying up way too late obsessively researching vegan brownies, I realized I had the perfect Peanut Butter Swirl Brownie recipe right in front of me the whole time. Lois Dieterly’s Sinfully Vegan is a never-fail cookbook that has many types of brownies in it, and low-and-behold, she has a Peanut Butter Twist Brownie recipe! They are easy and the prep work goes quickly. I was especially impressed that this recipe doesn’t call for any oil! Dieterly has subbed applesauce into the batter, and the brownies still retain an incredibly rich and chewy texture. I know they have peanut butter on top and plenty of sugar in every layer, so they are not void of fat, but the applesauce made me feel like they were a little healthier…And they certainly satisfied my chocolate-peanut butter fix. The peanut butter mixture gets swirled into the brownie batter so it is somewhat incorporated, but still leaves a lovely sweet peanut butter layer on top after baking, so you can taste all the parts on their own.

I changed the recipe very slightly because I didn’t want to use tofu. I’ve printed my adapted recipe below.

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Brownie Batter Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups granulated sweetener
3/4 cup applesauce (preferably organic)
2 Tblsp. water
2 tsp. ground flax seeds
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 cups unbleached white flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Topping:
1/2 cup all natural smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup unbleached white flour

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat an 8×8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Stir together granulated sweetener, applesauce, and 2 Tablespoons water in a medium size bowl. In a small cup, mix ground flax seeds with 1/2 cup water. Add to applesauce mixture and stir to combine. Add vanilla to this mixture.
In another small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add applesauce mixture to flour mixture. Stir just to combine and pour into prepared pan. Place peanut butter, maple syrup, and flour into a blender or food processor.
Process until smooth. Drop by spoonfuls onto brownie batter. Using a knife, swirl the peanut butter into the brownie batter (be careful not to mix completely).
Bake for 40-45 minutes for chewy brownies.
Allow to cool before serving.

Rustic Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches

I saw an amazing looking ice cream sandwich on the cover of this month’s Gourmet Magazine. The ice cream looks decadent and creamy, with a fruity blackberry sauce swirled into it; I was inspired. I wanted to create something different, but something that would still carry over into that creamy and sweet, yet mouth-puckering at the same time flavor combination. And with the added crunch of the cookie slabs on either side of the sandwich, I thought I would be in heaven! So many textures and tastes in each bite. Mmm!

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First, I created a lovely lemon ice cream. It was not too sour, and I used almond milk as it’s cream base so it had a nice creamy texture. My dad and stepmom recently went on vacation to Alaska, and they brought me back a lovely gift of Raspberry Rhubarb Syrup. The jar says it is great on pancakes but I decided that it would be even greater as an addition to this lemon ice cream. I swirled it in after I took the ice cream out of the ice cream maker, gently stirring so that it didn’t get completely combined, and you could still taste all the elements individually. Divine.

Although this ice cream certainly didn’t need to get any more complex, and was perfect on it’s own, I baked the same cookies as I had seen in Gourmet Magazine. I made a few adaptations in order to make them vegan, and was very happy with the result. They were pleasantly sweet, yet not overpoweringly so – they were a little like a butter cookie, and allowed you to taste the complex ice cream easily. I baked the cookies a bit longer than the recipe called for, so my cookies came out crispier, but it was such a nice crunchy outside to enjoy with the lemon ice cream softly sandwiched between.
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Lemon Raspberry-Rhubarb Swirl Ice Cream Ingredients:
3 cups plain unsweetened almond milk, divided
2 Tblsp. arrowroot powder
1 cup sugar
1 Tblsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tblsp. lemon zest
1/2 cup Raspberry-Rhubarb Syrup (or other fruity syrup – you can even thin out a fruit jam or jelly by heating it over the stove and adding small amounts of water slowly and stirring well until you get a thin sauce-like consistency)

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup almond milk with arrowroot powder, and set aside.
Mix the remaining 2 3/4 cups of almond milk with the sugar in a saucepan and cook over low heat. Once this mixture begins to boil, remove from burner, and then immediately add the arrowroot cream – You want to make sure that the almond milk-sugar combination is not still boiling before adding the arrowroot, or this will make the arrowroot’s properties ineffective. It should cause the liquid to thicken noticeably.
At this point, add the vanilla extract.
Refridgerate mixture until chilled, approximately 2-3 hours, and then add your lemon juice and lemon zest. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. After being churned in your ice cream maker, pour the ice cream into a airtight container. At this point, place spoonfuls of the Raspberry-Rhubarb Sauce (or whatever type of fruity sauce you choose) on top of your lemon ice cream, and stir it gently in. You don’t want to fully combine it, just swirl it in. Close your container tightly, and place it in the freezer for a few hours until hardened. Eat it plain or make the Cookie Slabs (recipe below) and make into sandwiches!

Cookie Slab Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup Earth Balance margarine
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tblsp. ground flax seed, mixed well in a small bowl with 3 Tblsp. water, to form a jelly-like consistency
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12×17 inch cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl. In another bowl, beat together Earth Balance and brown sugar, until pale and fluffy. Beat in the flax mixture, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients in two batches, mixing until just combined.
Spread batter on your prepared pan, and into a thin, even layer with an offset spatula.

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Bake until golden brown but still tender, 10-12 minutes. Cool completely on the pan, for about 30 minutes. The cookie will continue baking on the pan while cooling, so it will get slightly harder than when you took it out of the oven.
When completely cool, transfer cookies to a cutting board, and use a sharp knife to cut your cookie into even-sized pieces. I got 16 pieces out of mine.

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Place a 1/2 cup-sized scoop of ice cream onto half of your cookie pieces, and top with the remaining cookies. Squish slightly to flatten ice cream scoops, but be careful not to snap your cookies in half! Wrap individually with saran wrap, and place in freezer to harden.

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Cherry Chocolate Amaretto Crunch Ice Cream

It’s been hot here in Bay Area these past few weeks. Let’s be honest, I’ve experienced some terribly hot temperatures on the East Coast and in the Southern United States, and I’ve certainly heard about the hot temperatures that grace many other countries. But I’m a born and raised Bay Area Native, and my blood is definitely accustomed to our coastal cool foggy mornings and blue-sky-but-still-need-a-light-sweatshirt afternoons. Don’t get me wrong; I love to wear my summer dresses and I’m much happier with flip-flops on my feet than a pair of close-toed shoes. But I don’t happen to live in a year-round hot climate, like many non-Californians often think we do (once, when I was in high school and was traveling, I was asked if I “surf to school”…I chose to ignore that, because aside from any logistical nightmares about carrying your homework on your surfboard through white-capped waves, and how to change clothes from your wetsuit to something cute and fashionable to impress all your high school cliques, I’ve never been on a surfboard in my life).

Warmish temperatures is what my summer is made up of. But, we also get a few weeks of hot sun in August, and there is usually a few weeks of intense heat in September just after school starts, taunting students out of the classroom and onto the playground, or older youth to cut class and go sit in the nearby park or drive out to the beach. However, while this is what I’m used to, I’m reveling in our rare summer heat right now, and making as much ice cream as possible while the heat lasts. Because that is the most sane way to cope with it, and it’s a little painful to think about turning the oven on during the afternoon or evening.

My friend Sasha told me that one of her favorite ice cream flavors is chocolate cherry, and I was having dinner at her house, so I decided to make that for her and her housemates! I used the basic chocolate ice cream recipe from The Vegan Scoop as my base, but I added chopped fresh cherries at the end. This was the second ice cream I’ve made with a purely soymilk base, and I was disappointed with the cream’s thinness before freezing. I probably will not be making any more soy ice creams, but in the future I’ll be adapting recipes from this book to use other non-dairy alternatives. I added a few ingredients to thicken it up (extra dark chocolate melted in!) and Amaretto Liqueur and almond extract to give more body and a flavor kick. I also threw in some chocolate chips at the end with the cherries so there was a nice crunch in every bite. I forgot that adding alcohol would make the ice cream freeze a lot slower, and didn’t account for that time difference when prepping the ice cream; We ended up eating slightly melty ice cream, but it tasted delicious even if the texture wasn’t perfect. I re-froze the left overs and when I checked the next morning, the ice cream had a much harder texture…So if you choose to use this recipe, I would make sure to leave it in the freezer overnight before eating.

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Ice Cream Base Ingredients:
1 cup soymilk, divided
2 Tblsp. arrowroot powder
2 cups soy creamer
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup semisweet dark chocolate chips
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix Ins:
1 1/2 cups fresh pitted and chopped cherries
1 cup vegan chocolate chips or chunks
2 Tblsp. Amaretto Liqueur
1/2 tsp. almond extract

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In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup soymilk with arrowroot powder and set aside.
Mix soy creamer, remaining 3/4 cup soymilk, sugar, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips in a saucepan. Stirring frequently over low heat, melt chocolate chips, then bring to a boil. Once mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and immediately add arrowroot cream. This will cause the liquid to thicken noticeably.
Add vanilla extract.
Refrigerate mixture until chilled, approximately 2 to 3 hours (or stick in the freezer for 30 minutes to speed up the process…You want it cold, not frozen, so make sure to monitor your mixture if you choose to do this). When thoroughly chilled, mix in your Amaretto and almond extract. Then, freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
In the last few minutes of churning in your ice cream maker, add your chopped cherries and remaining cup of chocolate chips. Freeze overnight, or until hardened, in an airtight container.

Rich Chocolate Almond Cupcakes

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I meant to post this recipe a few days ago, right after my visit with VegNews. Unfortunately, I got a 24-hour flu-type illness and was wiped out for a few days, and I couldn’t look at my computer screen for very long or even think about food (can you believe it? I couldn’t think about baking? Clearly, something was very wrong with me!). But never fear, I’m back on the health-track, and able to post this amazing dark chocolate recipe for you now. Sorry for the delay!

So, to get on with it, on Thursday, I had lunch with the VegNews staff, and I made them White Chocolate Champagne Cupcakes and these Rich Chocolate Almond Cupcakes. I know bringing two kinds of decadent and fancy flavored desserts was a little excessive, but I get so much pleasure from the process of baking and creating art through food, and I enjoy watching others get pleasure out of eating my creations, that really it was quite self-serving to bring them both sets of cupcakes. And I ate quite a lot of them myself throughout the process. On Friday I was jittery the whole day from so much sugar, and of course I decided to make ice cream to take to a friend’s house for dinner, so with all that added sweetness I was downright hyper and even shaky – and I realized that I’m going to have to figure out a way to limit my own dessert consumption from now on (or maybe my body decided for me, by getting sick on Saturday night??). But, I sure do love baking. And imagining beautiful cupcakes!

This one was quite a feat for the taste buds. It has a moist and fluffy Chocolate Almond Cake base, flecked with almond meal that gives the airy cake just a little bit of extra texture, then covered with a thin layer of Almond Marzipan, and finally topped with a heavy swirl of Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. And, I couldn’t resist plopping a Dark Chocolate Decoration into the top of each swirl, for extra flair. So simply put, I present to you perhaps the most rich and decadent cupcake I have made yet. I hope you find a real chocolate lover, and that they enjoy this recipe to the max!

Note: This makes a double recipe (24 regular sized cupcakes)

Ingredients:
2 cups almond milk
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup almond meal
4 Tblsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 tsp. almond extract
16 oz. Almond Marzipan, rolled evenly 1//8 inch thick, and cut into 24 circles the size of a cupcake-top (I used the rim of a wine glass)

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Rich Chocolate Almond Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2-3/4 cup cocoa powder, to taste
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup almond milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line 2 muffin pans with cupcake liners.
Whisk the almond milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside a few minutes to get good and curdled.
Beat together the almond milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, almond meal, cocoa, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix only until no large lumps remain.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full, and bake for 20-24 minutes till done (you can stick a toothpick in the center and it should come out clean). Leave in muffin tins for 3-5 minutes after taking out of the oven, so the cakes can set, and then take out of the tins and place on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting. If you are planning to top the cupcakes with Marzipan, you would place the marzipan layer on top of each cupcake just after you take the cake out of the baking pan – you want to do it while the cakes are still slightly warm so that the marzipan can melt slightly onto it and stick.marzipan before&afterFor the frosting, cream together the shortening and margarine until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and cocoa powder, alternating with almond milk, and beat for about 3 more minutes. Add the extracts and beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy. This is a very thick and heavy frosting; If you want it to be a bit lighter, try adding a bit more almond milk, in 1/2 teaspoon increments. Pipe or spread on top of the marzipan layer (or plain cupcakes). Top with a Dark Chocolate Decoration (recipe below).Dark Chocolate DecorationsTo make the Dark Chocolate Decorations, finely chop a bar of your favorite chocolate. Place these pieces into the top section of a double boiler, and heat on the stove over a high flame. When the water is boiling, turn the burner off. Stir chocolate gently until it is completely melted and smooth. Have a piece of parchment or waxed paper prepared, sitting on top of a flat cookie sheet. Using a spoon, drizzle your melted chocolate over the paper in different directions, making sure to criss-cross your lines so that the chocolate will stick together*. It is okay to have different sized lines or globs even, and drips are fine too. This is not time to be a perfectionist! When you’ve exhausted your chocolate supply, stick your pan into the fridge for a few hours until chocolate is completely hardened. Take it out, peel away from the paper, and break into smaller pieces that you can decorate cupcakes or cakes with. These can be stored in your refrigerator in a tightly covered container for a few weeks, or re-melted down to create other shapes or serve other baking needs.

*If you are really brave, and up for a challenge, you can spoon your melted chocolate into a plastic ziploc bag and cut a tiny hole out of one of the bottom corners. Use this to pipe designs or patterns onto your paper so you end up with the exact shapes you want. This can be very elegant.


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