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Super Bowl Ready

As of two weeks ago, I had never watched a football game. Not ever. Last year, another teacher asked me during our recess duty what I had done for the Super Bowl. I replied something like, “The Super Bowl was this past weekend? I had no idea.” To which he jokingly said, “Hey, have you ever heard of this thing called football? It’s a sport. People play it. There are fans.” These jokes continued for most of the school year…Of course I knew what football was…but had I ever watched a game? No. Did I care? Not really.

This year, I have two Super Bowl parties to attend (did you get that? Two!). And, two weeks ago, I even watched about 40 minutes of the 49ers vs. the Giants game. Apparently that’s called the NFC Championship Game. I even know which teams are playing this year…

Which is a huge step from not knowing that the Super Bowl even happened. Mostly I’m excited about the Super Bowl parties because the first one is all of my best friends hanging out (in one room, while some of their partners watch the game with all types of seriousness), and the second will feature team-themed food (New York themed food and New England/Boston themed food…and they are going all out. New York: New York cheesecake squares, Jewish deli corned beef Reubens, Kosher pickles and cole slaw, Brooklyn Lager. New England: New England clam chowder, Maine lobster-filled lobster rolls, Cape Cod potato chips, South Boston Irish car bombs, Sam Adams Boston Lager). Who doesn’t like a themed food party?

Being the only vegetarian attending, I was asked to bring something I could eat, which of course resulted in me brainstorming for hours. And what I came up with was…

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes.

Theme? Check. Easy to eat with your fingers while watching the game or holding a beer in the other hand? Check. Delicious? Check.

I guess I’ll be eating cupcakes, cheesecake squares, and drinking beer. And maybe watching the game a little. Sounds like a good Sunday to me!

Yellow Cupcake Batter Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened 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
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, and salt, and mix until no large lumps remain.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Transfer to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before filling and/or frosting.

Custard Filling Ingredients:
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Make The Filling: Combine the 1/2 cup cream with 1/4 cup of the milk and cook over medium heat until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Immediately add 1/4 cup of the sugar and the salt. Stir until dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch and whisk to remove lumps. Whisk in the 2 eggs. Add the hot cream mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Return to the mixture to the saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens and is smooth (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:
3 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
2 Tblsp. butter
1/4 cup cream (or 1% milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Make The Chocolate Ganache: In double boiler, stir the chocolate pieces and 2 tablespoons butter until they are completely melted. Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, add the 1/4 cup cream in a thin steady stream. Mix vigorously until smooth. Stir in the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

To Assemble the cupcakes: Cut a cone shape out of the top of each cupcake. Cut the tips off the ends of the cones (this is when you get to sample the cupcake). Put a dollop of custard in the hole, and then put the top of the cone shape back on the top of the cupcake, hiding the custard filling. Spread chocolate ganache evenly over the cupcake. Eat. Enjoy. Have a second one!

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Martha Stewart’s Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

As a vegan, I loved taking “fail-proof” recipes and adapting them to be vegan and proving that they were still sinfully delicious and could have a good texture when vegan. Right now though, I am loving baking with butter and eggs for one main reason: I get to try to all of these same recipes (and others that I have been oggling for years) exactly as they were meant to be made! I really do think that my vegan versions were wonderful and tasty, but it’s interesting to again taste flavors that I haven’t had in a long time and find out what the recipes were supposed to taste like. Of course I had to start out with a basic Martha Stewart recipe to see what the standard out there has been for a buttery, soft, and chewy chocolate chip cookie. And, dang! These cookies hit the spot. They were easy and quick to whip up and everyone who has tried them has asked for another. And another. And another…

Martha suggests using room temperature butter, but I have heard that if you melt the butter (and then cool it to room temperature), you will get a chewier cookie. I don’t know if that’s true because I didn’t do a controlled experiment in this case but I did try melting the butter, and I liked the results. Otherwise this is Martha’s recipe exactly, and makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and then cooled
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. coarse salt
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter in a saucepan and let cool while you whisk together the flour and baking soda in a bowl. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add salt, vanilla, and eggs; mix until well blended, about 1 minute. Mix in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges turn golden but centers are still soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week.

Chocolate-Stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes with Candy Cane Icing

Ever since I began baking cupcakes, I’ve been drooling over this blog. But I was vegan for so long that I never got to try any of the recipes as they were intended. I was searching for the perfect mint chocolate cupcake recipe for Christmas Eve dinner, and realized I could look at Cupcake Bakeshop. I found her dark chocolate cupcakes with mint chocolate ganache and mint icing, decided right away that they would be the perfect cupcake for tonight. I was right. With a few substitutions and additions, here is my version:

I’m not going to post the recipe (you’ll have to look here for the gorgeous process pictures and full recipe) but I’ll give you the deets about my own changes:

Cupcakes: recipe the same, except I substituted Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour Mix instead of wheat flour.

Ganache: recipe the same, except I didn’t include the mint leaves at all.

Icing: recipe the same, except I used Earth Balance margarine and added 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (aka: Brownie Bites)

We found this recipe about a week ago here, and have made 3 batches since. They are too good to stop sharing with friends, or to stop eating them ourselves. They’ve been taken to numerous events, and everyone gobbles them up immediately, asking for more. One friend said he came to our housewarming party just because he heard we would have these cookies here (I think/hope he came to warm our house, too). These cookies are gluten-free, but not vegan. They have whipped egg whites which makes a crunchy outer layer around a gooey middle (like a dense flourless cake filling). Make these cookies with caution: they are fudgy, crispy, and unstoppably delicious.

Ginger Whiskey Cupcakes with Marzipan Turkey Toppers

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

This year, I am thankful for so many things. Some of those things include that I got to celebrate Thanksgiving twice this year! Both times were with wonderful friends and family (well, all of them are like family now). For my second Thanksgiving, there are lots of traditions. One includes cooking with and drinking lots of Maker’s Mark whiskey, and so when I was brainstorming cupcake flavors of course I had to include Maker’s. And when I was thinking of cocktails that include whiskey, we realized that a bomb combination would be to make Ginger Whiskeys! Yum.

And it was Thanksgiving. I don’t eat turkey obviously but I can eat marzipan turkeys! So we had a craft-night and made this army of cuties:

Fluffy Ginger Cake Ingredients:

This recipe makes eighteen cupcakes, or one 9-inch cake

1 Tblsp. apple cider vinegar
1 ½ cups plain unsweetened almond milk
2 1/8 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 1/8 cups sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tblsp. freshly grated/zested ginger

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a cupcake tin with papers. Set aside.

Stir the almond milk and apple cider vinegar together well and set aside (the mixture will curdle). Grate or zest your ginger while you wait for the curdling.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another mixing bowl whisk together the almond milk mixture, canola oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and beat until smooth using a hand-held mixer, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the ginger at the very end, and mix to incorporate.

Fill your cake pan with the batter. Bake for 23-26 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then when luke-warm, remove cakes from the pan and place on a wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

Maker’s Mark Caramel Glaze Ingredients:

1/3 cup Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup half & half
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 In a small saucepan, melt the brown sugar and butter over a medium low heat. Stir vigorously to create a smooth texture. Pour the half & half into the brown sugar blend, using a whisk to incorporate. Whisk in the powdered sugar. Continue stirring until sugar has completely dissolved. Add the Maker’s Mark whiskey and vanilla extract. Remove from heat and let cool. Make small holes in the tops of the cooled cupcakes with a fork and pour the glaze over the cakes – let the glaze seep in, and re-pour if you want extra. Refrigerate to set.

Ginger Zing Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tblsp. freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 Tblsp. freshly zested lemon rind

Beat the butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer. When you have a smooth, fluffy consistency, add the vanilla extract and confectioner’s sugar half a cup at a time. Mix until fully combined. Add more sugar if you want a thicker frosting, but be aware that it can get quite sweet quickly! Make it a little thicker than you want it, and then add the ginger and lemon zest – it will thin out the frosting just a little bit. Spread frosting over the glazed cupcakes. Eat and enjoy!

New Category/Confession

Hi Loyal Readers and Bakers!

I have a confession to make…Because of various health concerns and life changes, after four years I am not vegan anymore! I still continue to bake mostly vegan desserts but I have been experimenting with dairy products and I’d like to share some of those recipes with you. I’ll take pictures and share the recipes for all the vegan and non-vegan delicious treats that I concoct, still on this blog. I’ve created a new category “vegan” which you can check if you want to exclusively look for vegan recipes.

I hope you enjoy my future posts, both vegan and not!

If you want to convert non-vegan recipes to make them vegan, here’s a helpful cheat-sheet:

cream cheese can always be replaced with Tofutti Cream Cheese (plain/original flavor)

butter can be replaced with Earth Balance margarine

eggs can be replaced with: 1/3 cup applesauce, EnerG Egg Replacer, half of a mashed banana, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch blended with 2 tablespoons of warm water, 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of warm water, or a variety of other binding agents depending on what consistency you want your baked good to have (or what properties you need your egg replacer to have (binding, rising, etc.)).

Lemon, Chocolate, Champagne, Oh My!

Bria and Dave’s wedding was fantastic and fun – the perfect mix of serious, thoughtful, goofy and joyous. I was honored to bake them their wedding cake and cupcakes! In three flavors, no less! I’m sorry I don’t have the recipes right now as links but you can look them up in my blog archives.

There were three flavors of cupcakes:

1. Chocolate Raspberry (chocolate-raspberry cake with a homemade raspberry filling and chocolate cream cheese frosting)

2. Lemon Almond (gluten-free almond cake with a homemade vegan lemon curd filling and a lemon cream cheese frosting)

3. Champagne (vanilla champagne cake with a white choclate filling and fluffy champagne frosting)

We made at least 200 cupcakes (some didn’t quite make it to the wedding…oops). And they were seriously enjoyed! Just take a look at the happy couple:


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