Archive for August 7th, 2009

White Chocolate Champagne Cupcakes

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I made these cupcakes for my visit to the VegNews headquarters, and wanted to bring them something that I knew would work – that meant that I wanted it to be something I had made before, and something that was exciting and fun. I had a couple bars of vegan white chocolate that I brought back from my recent trip to Holland, and thought that I could introduce that into this recipe that I made before to make it a little more unusual. The white chocolate and champagne flavors worked very well together and this was definitely a winning combination that I’m going to have to replicate in the future.

This is a very celebratory cupcake flavor, and is delightfully light and fluffy, as well as being rich and intoxicating at the same time! The champagne gives the frosting a nice airy texture, which plays well with the idea of “bubbles” in the drink. I do believe that if you ate enough of the frosting, you could get a nice buzz going, but with the amount that you consume in a cupcake or two, I think it’s a non-issue. It would be easy to play around with this recipe and make a pink champagne cupcake (add some strawberries to the ganache filling? Use pink champagne in the frosting and get a nice pink tint?) and I made them once before with a dark chocolate ganache in the center of the cakes, which made them very elegant looking. I recommend this recipe for any type of celebratory event, or even if you just want to play around with new flavors. It’s very yummy, and I believe you’ll make lots of new friends if you give them these sweet cakes!

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Ingredients:
1 Tblsp. almond milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tblsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup canola oil (or any lightly flavored vegetable oil)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 Tblps. champagne (you can use any type of champagne, even pink champagne! I find that a heavier, drier champagne like Brute will convey it’s flavor better through baking, so that is what I used)

White Chocolate Ganache:
3 oz. bar of vegan white chocolate, chopped finely
1/4 cup almond milk

Champagne Frosting Ingredients:
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated vegan shortening
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
6 Tblsp. champagne, any type
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tblsp. cornstarch

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a muffin pan 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, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Add the champagne and lightly to try to retain some of the fizzy bubbles. Sift in the flour, 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. While you are waiting for them to cool, you can prepare your Ganache and Frosting (recipes below). When cupcakes are completely cool, cut a cone out of the center of each cake, and remove tops. This is where you will spoon in your White Chocolate Ganache, or if you choose not to make the ganache then you can also use this method and pipe extra Champagne Frosting into the center of the cupcake, replace the cake top, and pipe more frosting on top. Both methods are beautiful and extremely tasty.

To make the White Chocolate Ganache, simply put your chopped white chocolate and almond milk into the top section of a double boiler and heat over the stove. When the water in the bottom is boiling, turn the temperature down and stir chocolate rapidly until it is completely melted and the ganache has a smooth consistency. Remove from heat and let cool (but not harden) before spooning into cupcakes. Put about 1 tsp. of ganache into each cupcake, and replace cupcake tops – some ganache may squeeze out, and this adds a pretty effect (if too much comes out, you can wipe it off with a clean finger or paper towel; it’s white so any smudges won’t show up!).

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For the Champagne Frosting, cream together the shortening and margarine until well combined and fluffy. Add in the sugar, alternating with champagne, and beat for about 30 seconds. Add the flour and cornstarch, and beat for another 30 seconds, or until fluffy. Pipe onto the tops of your already-filled cupcakes.

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Lunch with VegNews!

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Yesterday I got to do something out of the ordinary and very fun! A friend has a connection at VegNews, and he arranged for me to have lunch with them at their headquarters. In preparation for this adventure, I thought and thought about what kinds of cupcakes to bring them. To be honored with a lunch at VegNews called for something really special, and something I knew would come out well. After much deliberation, I decided to make both White Chocolate Champagne Cupcakes and Rich Chocolate Almond Cupcakes. It felt very celebratory. I will post the recipes and some more pictures of these sinfully delicious cupcakes soon.VegNews staff even wrote about my cupcakes on one of their blogs!

*Edit: I have now posted the recipe for the Champagne Cupcakes here, and the Rich Chocolate Almond Cupcake recipe here. Enjoy!*

On our way to San Francisco, Julie did a miraculous job keeping the cupcakes safe while I drove over the Bay Bridge. Those little cakes braved lots of roadbumps and traffic, but safe on Julie’s lap in the car they were fine by the time we got to our destination. Julie’s thighs were frozen from our need to blast the air conditioning during the whole ride to keep the chocolate on top of the cupcakes from melting, but I suppose there’s always some collateral damage, right?

Everyone we met at VegNews was very sweet and incredibly inviting into their workspace. It was very interesting to see where all the magic happens; although honestly I have to say the best part of seeing their headquarters was seeing that they have a fully-stocked kitchen in the back where they cook lunch for each other every day! They had spices galore and a full fridge and to see that much care taken of their staff was great. I think it’s so important that for a group of people whose jobs center around food and food-oriented living all the time, that cooking also plays a big role for them daily. The yellow curry that Charlotte cooked for us was really delicious and fresh-tasting, and the conversation around the table was lively and fun. It seems like it would be a really nice place to work, and it is definitely a welcoming and fun place to visit! I hope I can join them for lunch again, and judging from the reception of my cupcakes, I think I’d be welcomed back!

We were also joined for lunch there by Laura Beck, who had made an amazing Caramalized Banana Ice Cream, which was so creamy and rich that I was soon over my head in a sugar-induced coma. She is very experienced in making ice cream, and we bonded over this. In this case, she used MimicCreme as her ice cream base, which I’ve been very excited about because it is made from almonds and cashews and is totally soy-free! I need to go buy myself some to make ice cream with! Thanks for the tip, Laura!


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