Sugar Cookies

I am sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. If you follow me on twitter, you know that I was in a car accident. I am fine, just a concussion and whiplash, but sadly my car was totaled. What pisses me off the most was I was not doing anything bad—not speeding, playing with my phone, or goofing around at all. The car just started spinning out of control and I crashed. That aside, it could have been a lot worse so I am glad that I only have minor injuries. But, crashing your car the weekend before finals does not leave a lot of time to cook yummy food, so please forgive my absence.

Baking with a neck brace, so sexy. Thanks to my
 wonderful friend Joely for the apron, I smiled for the
 first time all week when I opened my package.
I wanna help mama.

Anyways, it’s only a few days before Christmas so it’s cookie time! I love decorating cookies with my family, I’ve done it since I was a little girl and plan on doing it every christmas to come. I decided to decorate cookies anyways this year even though I am by myself, it would not be christmas without them! Plus I was not totally alone, Penny tried to jump on the table 3 times while I was decorating them.

I planned on making cookies from scratch, but after spending 4 days in muscle relaxer coma on the couch,  I did not feel like doing all that work. So, I decided to go with a package mix. Like I said before, proceeded foods should be eaten in moderation and very rarely. A few cookies for the holidays is fine. I am keeping a couple for myself and taking the rest to work for everyone to share.

I used the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix. I substituted vegan shortening for the butter and soy milk for the egg. Although it does not say to do so on the package, I refrigerated the dough over night like normal sugar cookie dough. This really makes rolling out and cutting the dough easier. However, I needed a lot of flour to prevent the dough from sticking. This is a common complaint I found on the reviews for this mix. The cookies tasted good in the end, but the dough puff up more than I would have liked. Overall, if you want cheap and easy sugar cookies, this mix is just fine. But it’s nothing special, homemade from scratch are better.

I made a double batch so I used two packages. Half this recipe for a single batch.

Sorry I did not take pictures of the whole process, I made the dough last night when I got off work and was I too tired.

Sugar Cookies
2 packages of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
2 stick of vegan shortening (I used Earth Balance), softened
1/2 cup soy milk

In a large bowl,  mix together all the ingredients until. Make sure all the shortening is worked in and there are no lumps.

Spray some plastic wrap with cooking spray. Form the dough into a ball and cover with the plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

On a clean, well floured surface, divided the chill dough into quarters. Work with one quarter at a time and put the rest back in the fridge.

Roll the dough to desired thickness and cut out your cookies with festive cookies cutters.

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes. The edges will be slightly golden and the inside still white.

Let them cool on the baking sheet for a minute then remove and let them cool completely.

Then decorate them as desired. I used sparkle gel icing and basic Christmas sprinkles.

Every year I make a Shaun White sugar cookie because he is my favorite snowboarder.

Shaun White cookie!

I also made a bloody car crash victim person, because that’s just the kind of girl I am 🙂

Car crash cookie. There was no blood in my
 accident but that is not as fun to decorate.

I am feeling better so I should be back to my normal blogging soon. Look out for my Thai feast Christmas Eve dinner….

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Foodbuzz selected me for another free coupon giveaway! This time I got two coupons from Duncan Hines and one from Comstock-Wilderness.  I have been wanting to make a pumpkin spice cake for awhile so I was very happy to get the coupons. I used the coupons to get a box of Duncan Hines Spice Cake, a can of  Buttercream Frosting, and a can of Comstock Apple Pie Filling. Surprisingly, they are all vegan! But, they are processed food, which should always be eaten in moderation. Like Cookie Monster says, sweets should be a sometimes food. Processed foods should never be the main staple of your diet. That being said, there are things you can do to box mixes to make them healthier. Just preparing them vegan alone cuts out all the cholesterol. Rather than oil, I used apple sauce. And for more nutrition, I added pumpkin puree.  For the frosting, I blended the Apple Pie Filling so it was a bit smoother, then added it to the frosting.

These cupcakes combine classic holiday flavors into a small little treat. Could even make a wonderful Thanksgiving dessert.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
1 box of Duncan Hines Spice Cake
1 cup apple sauce
3/4 cup rice milk (soy is fine too)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 can of Duncan Hines Buttercream Frosting
1 can of Comstock Apple Pie Filling

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a cupcake tin with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add the cake mix, apple sauce, and rice milk. Mix together well.

Add the pumpkin puree and baking soda, then beat together for 2 minutes.

Fill the cupcake tin 3/4 of the way full and bake for for 18-21 minutes.

The cupcakes are ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Once ready, let them cool in the tin for a bit, then remove and let them cool completely before frosting.

While those cool, puree the apple pie filling until smooth.

In a small bowl, mix together the puree and the butter cream frosting. If it’s too runny, add some powdered sugar to tighten it up. Refrigerate until the cupcakes are ready to be frost.

Finally, frost the cupcakes anyway you like. I really suck at decorating. If I was in Oregon, I would have begged my mom to decorate them for me. But, I did garnish with a little nutmeg and raw sugar for fun. 

The applesauce and pumpkin puree make the cupcakes so moist, definitely what I have been craving. Thank you Foodbuzz, Duncan Hines and Comstock-Wilderness! I am bringing this cupcakes to a friend’s house, I hope she and her roommates like them.

Baked Apples

I was very sad yesterday when my mom texted me to tell me Steve Jobs, one of the cofounders of Apple Inc., passed away from pancreatic cancer. I looked at the text on my iPhone, a device his company developed that revolutionized mass communications, and my heart sank. Coming from a big techie family, his life and accomplishments were well-known in my home growing up. Whether you’re a Mac or PC person, you cannot deny that he helped change the world. You might not be able to read this very post right now if it wasn’t for his vision (and because I am typing this on a Macbook). I like what my brother posted as his Facebook status, “Steve, I was hoping you would stick around for “One More thing…” ”  

In honor of Steve, I decided to make baked apples. Many factors can trigger cancer, and diet is one of them. This is one of the main reasons I became a vegan. There are so many unknowns in this world and I want to give myself the best fighting chance of living a long, healthy life and proper nutrition is a good way to do so. Keeping that in mind, I made my apples a little bit differently. I did not use any butter. If you use nice ripe apples, their own natural juices will be enough to help it brown. I also did not use white or brown sugar. Most white sugars are processed using animal bones to remove the color so they are not vegan anyways. Not to mention it lacks any nutrients. Brown sugar is just white sugar with regular molasses added, so it isn’t any better. What I did use is black strap molasses. Yes, it is a processed sugar byproduct, but it does have some important minerals like iron, manganese, copper, calcium and vitamin B6. If you are going to eat sugar, it might as well have something beneficial in it. But, just like any processed food, it should be eaten in moderation. You cannot control the future, but you can control your actions now in order to have a better future. Steve is proof that all the money in the world cannot buy you health. Do all you can to prevent cancer. 




Baked Apples

4 Granny Smith apples

1/2  cup rasins

1/2  cup dry oatmeal 
1/4 cup black strap molasses 
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger 











Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Core the apples, but make sure you leave the bottom intact. If you have an apple corer, I really suggest using it. It can be done with a pairing knife but it’s a little tricky. 

In a small bowl, combine together the remaining ingredients. 






Fill the apples with the mixture. I stuffed mine pretty well. 






Place the filled apples in a baking pan. Fill the pan with about 1/4 of an inch water. 
Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes. The apples should be tender, and the filling golden and caramelized. Let them cool a bit before eating. You can also cover the pan with foil before baking if you don’t want your filling that crunchy. 
Thank You Mr. Jobs. You changed the world and taught a whole generation to “think different.”








Rhubarb Bars

I was looking through the new recipes on VegWeb and came across one called Rhubarb Bar for the Herbivore. There was a bunch of rhubarb in my mom’s garden that needed to be picked, so I thought I would give this recipe a try. I used whole wheat pastry flour and less butter in the crust to make it more nutritious. I also did not need as much sugar as the recipe calls for, and I thought my rhubarb was pretty sour to begin with. Just preference I guess.

Rhubarb Bars
Crust:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tbs powdered sugar
2 tbs vegan butter
2-3 tbs of water

Filling:
2 cups rhubarb, chopped
1 cup raw sugar
2tbs Enger-G egg replacer
4 tbs water
1/4 cup flour

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a small square pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, add the flour and butter. Then squish together by hand. Add the water as needed until the dough is crumbly.

Press the dough down into the bottom of the pan firmly.

Bake for 15 minutes. It should still be pale but a little firmer.

While that bakes, peel and chop the rhubarb into bite size pieces. Check out my Strawberry Rhubarb Pie post on how to prep rhubarb.

In a large bowl, add the rhubarb and all remaining ingredients. Mix together well. Taste for sweetness, you may need more sugar depending on preference and the sourness of your rhubarb.

Once the crust is baked, pour the filling in while the crust is still hot.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the filling is bubbling.

Let it cool before cutting and serving. I topped it with a little powdered sugar for fun.

If you have never had rhubarb before, I would not suggest this recipe. But if you like a little tartness, give this a try. It’s a nice change from a big heavy dessert.

*PS, my dad pretty much devoured this tonight. When he really likes something, he will eat the whole thing. So if you are a rhubarb fan, this is the dish for you.

Parents’ 27th Anniversary Dinner, Part 1: Strawberry Rhubarb and Marion Berry Pie

On August 4, 1984, my two wonderful parents began their lives together as husband and wife. They met back in high school and have been happily married for 27 years now. They are the two most amazing people I know and I am so thankful for the wonderful childhood they gave my brother and I. So they definitely deserve a nice dinner. They drooled over the food in the recent episode of No Reservations in Naples and requested I make traditional pizza margarita and an antipasto platter. My parents are not vegan and since it is their day, some of the recipes are not vegan. The things I am going to eat are vegan though. Since I am making quite a few dishes, I decided to break up the recipes into two posts. This first one is the dessert since I made the pies this morning.

Chuckie and Amelia like rhubarb apparently.

My dad requested his favorite thing in the whole world, strawberry rhubarb pie. The filling is vegan, but I suck at pie crusts so I used a Pillsbury one, which is not vegan. And some how I still managed to screw up a pre-made crust. The rim stuck to the foil in the oven for some reason. Not sure how that happened. My mom said it still tastes good, just doesn’t look so pretty. Still pretty good for my first attempt. I picked the rhubarb fresh from my mom’s garden, and my kitties decided to help me. The recipe is based on the one from How to Cook Everything.

For myself, I made a marion berry pie. Marion berries are a caneberry hybrid developed by Oregon State University in the 1940s. They are pretty much just an Oregon version of a blackberry and they are fantastic. They grow wildly all over Oregon now too. They will stain your hands a lovely purple color so be careful. If you can’t get marion berries, you can use blackberries but any Oregonian will tell you they aren’t the same. I also used a pre-made gram cracker crust for this pie too.




Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
2 pre-made pie crust doughs
2 and 1/2 cups rhubarb, peeled and diced
3 cups strawberries, siced
1 cup sugar, more or less depending on sourness of rhubarb
3 tbs cornstarch
Milk
Sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Wash and slice the strawberries. Add to a large bowl.

Wash and peel the rhubarb. The easiest way to peel is just to pull off the outer tough strings by hand. Just keep pulling off little pieces until you can’t easily grab strings anymore. Dice into small pieces. Add to the large bowl.

Add the sugar and cornstarch, mix together well. Taste for sweetness. If the rhubarb is really sour like mine was, you may need more sugar.

For the crust, unroll the pie crust and fit into the pie pan. Press the dough down well and press the the edges down firmly to seal the crust.

Pour the filling into the pan and smooth so it’s evenly spread.

Cover with the other pie crust.  Seal the edges down once again.

For  some decoration and help the seal, press a fork around the edges.

Cut 4 slits in the center.

Brush the top with some milk and sprinkle on some sugar.

Cover the edges with foil so they don’t burn. 

Bake in the oven at 450 for 10 minutes, then drop down the temperature to 350 and make for 40-50 minutes. Removed the foil the last 10 minutes. It’s done when the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden.

Not sure why the crust came out all weird…

Vegan Marion Berry Pie
1 vegan pre-made gram cracker pie crust
1 pint Marion Berries
4 tbs sugar
1/2 tps ground cloves
1/4 tps fresh grated ginger
1 tbs corn starch
Vegan whip cream

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the berries and add the to a large bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients, except the crust obviously, and mix together well. Taste for sweetness but ripe marion berries should not be sour.

Pour the filling into the crust and smooth so it’s evenly spread.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the filling is no longer jiggly.

Top with vegan whip cream, and garnish with some more berries or mint.

Almond whip spread and mint from my mom’s garden.

I have been craving a marion berry pie for awhile now, should be delicious! And I know my dad will be happy when he sees his pie too. More posts to come, but here is another pic of my cats “helping” me in the garden.

So cute, even if they do come in all dirty. 

Columbia River Gorge Trip: Brownies, Full Sail Brewery and Tofurky

Picture from here

Summer classes ended so I went home to Oregon for a little bit before fall semester starts. My friend Amanda invited me to come visit her in The Dalles (well, more like demanded since we haven’t seen each other in a year). Then my UHH friend Michael was in Hood River doing an internship for one of our geology professors, and said I should come see him too. So, I borrowed my dad’s car and headed down the beautiful Colombia River Gorge.

If you have never been, it’s defiantly worth a trip. The landscape is truly breathtaking.  As you drive east from Portland you transition from lush forests to a high desert, while passing alongside waterfalls, mountain peaks, high cliffs, and the lovely Columbia River itself. 

I stayed one night in Hood River with my professor and his family, which was very nice of them, so I decided to bring them a treat as a thank you. I made my favorite brownies, Chocolate Brownie Mix from Pamela’s Products. They can be made vegan or non-vegan, just follow the directions on the package. Here is how I make them:






Pamela’s Product Brownies
4 tbs water
1/2 cup vegan margarine 
1/4 hemp milk

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a baking pan with cooking spray. 

In a small bowl, mix together the egg replacer and the 4 tbs of water. 

In a large bowl, add the brownie mix, egg replacer and all remaining ingredients. Mix together just until combined. 

Pour into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes. They are done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Even my non-vegan brother and dad wanted some. My brother happily ate the one that wouldn’t fit on plate I took to Hood River.

When I got into town Michael and Dr. Anderson were still out in the field so I explored downtown for a bit. It didn’t take too long before I ended up at Full Sail Brewery. Their beer is vegan (click here to learn about what makes beer vegan or not) and the food at the brewpub is good too.

What I like about them, and most Oregon breweries, is that they use local, quality ingredients. I had the hummus plate–just didn’t eat the feta— and a pint of the LTD 03. The beer was very hoppy, but very good. Take the tour while you are there too, you get a free glass afterwards. 

And, right next door to Full Sail is one of the best vegan things ever: the Tofurky Factory! I didn’t go in but when I go stay at peoples houses I usually bring my own food to make it easier on my hosts so I brought some Tofuky Italian Sausages with me. I don’t know how they do it, but Tofurky products actually taste and have the texture of meat. I cannot express how much I love this company and its products. The sausages are juicy and get nice grill marks on them too.

After Hood River, I stayed a few days in The Dalles with Amanda and her family. Although not vegan, I brought them Mauna Loa Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts from Hawaii. Amanda said her sister already devoured most of them. And, Amanda’s dog Lilly is so freaking cute I just felt the need to put her on here.

Haupia, Coconut Pudding

Picture from here

Sometimes I browse the bakery section at normal grocery stores to see how horrible those innocent looking treats really are to remind myself why I am vegan. I know that sounds weird, but I wish everyone would do this just once. Take the time to actually read the ingredients in those doughnuts or cakes, and you will probably never want to eat them again. But one day I came across something I had never seen before. It was a small little white square covered with shredded coconut. It had only a few simple ingredients, was fairly low in fat and calories, and was made at a local bakery. And it was vegan. I bought the little white square and surprised when I bit into it. It was squishy like gelatin, but sweet and coconutty. I am not a fan of gummy or jelly things, but I love coconut so I was torn on whether I liked the treat or not. And to be honest, I am still torn. Yet, this is the second time I have made this dessert at home.

Haupia is a technically coconut pudding made from starch and coconut milk, but has the texture of gelatin. Gelatin is not vegan (ever heard the saying “take the horse to the glue factory”?) so I was kind of skeptical that the haupia square at the store was labeled properly. But my skepticism was set aside when my homemade version was just as gelatinous.

I can’t find much information on the history of haupia besides it became popular after World War II and was originally made with arrowroot starch. It is easy to make but requires your full attention while cooking. This recipe is based on two fairly similar recipes, one from a luau recipe website and one from Food.com. Both recipes call for cornstarch, which I don’t use that often so I usually don’t keep in the cupboard.  I was about to cave and buy some when I realized that Enger-G Egg Replacer, which I usually have on hand because it is so versatile, is made from starch. So I gave it a shot and it worked just fine.

A side note about canned coconut milk I mentioned in my Yellow Curry post: light coconut milk is a waste of money.  It is just watered down normal coconut milk and usually costs more. Save the money and just add water yourself if you want cut down on calories.

Haupia
1 and 1/2 cans coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Enger-G Egg Replacer or cornstarch
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

 

In a small sauce pan, heat the coconut milk, water, and sugar over medium heat while continuously whisking.

When it is about to boil, gradually add the egg replacer or starch and continue to whisk.

When it starts to thicken slightly, add the vanilla, salt, and shredded coconut flakes and continue to whisk.

Remove from the heat when it is smooth but as thick as pudding.

Pour into desired dish and chill for at least two hours so it can fully set up. Here is a little advice on what shape of dish to use. The first time I made this, I tried to replicate the one I got from the store so I used a square pan so it would be just as thick. But the pan was too small so it came out really thick. Since I don’t like squishy/gelatin things, I used a sheet pan this time so it would be thinner. But it was too thin and did not come out of the pan very nicely. So, I next time I make this I am going to use medium-sized square pan, and shoot for around 1/2 inch thickness.

Since they did not come out of the pan in a decent looking form, I didn’t take any final pictures. But I promise they were yummy, if you like squishy things that is. I topped mine with some additional shredded coconut too, it helped cut down on the squishyness.

Chocolate Chili Pepper Mousse

May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that effects the small intestine’s ability to process gluten protein. Common side effects are fatigue, severe digestive problems, and even growth problems in children.

Although I do not have a gluten allergy, I have several friends who do and I am always more than happy to post recipes they can eat too. If you do not have Celiac Disease or another type of gluten allergy, than there is no reason for you to cut all gluten out of your diet. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a gluten-free meal every once and awhile, give your body a break from processing the same gluten-heavy stuff over and over again. Like corn, it’s pretty much in every processed food today.

Gluten is a protein that comes from the wheat family, which include rye, barley, and oat. It is a great binder and leavener, which is wheat-flour breads are so common. It’s also used as a thickener, so it is used in a wide array of processed foods.  Because of it’s chewy texture, it is also used in many meat alternatives so gluten-free vegans and vegetarians need to read labels carefully.

My gluten-free friend Michelle asked for a chocolaty dessert, and I instantly thought of this Chocolate Chili Pepper Mousse recipe my mom found on VegWeb awhile ago. Remember in the movie Chocolat when Vianne said that chili enhances the flavor of chocolate? She wasn’t kidding. It doesn’t overpower the dish at all, just gives it that perfect little kick. Try chocolate with other spices too, like a cup of Mexican Hot Coco with a dash of cinnamon. Chocolate and spices are loaded with antioxidants.

The only change I made to the recipe was I used grade B maple syrup instead of agave because that is what I have on hand. In the American  maple syrup grading system, grade B just means it is darker and less sweet than grade A.

Chocolate Chili Pepper Mousse
1 package of silk tofu, drained
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tps peanut butter
1/4 tps chili pepper flakes
Berries, fresh or frozen

Throw everything into a blender, except the berries and blend until smooth. I was going to take photos, but this dessert is so simple there really is no need for visual aide. You may want to mix with a spoon after blending to make sure everything is incorporated.

Pour into bowls or decorative glasses. I used martini glasses.

Refrigerate for at least two hours. The flavors develop more the longer it sits.

Top with the berries or any desired fruit. Also good with vegan whip cream or some crushed nuts. Sprinkle a bit more chili flakes if you like an extra kick.

Topped with sugar-covered frozen strawberries.

The texture is so smooth and creamy, it’s hard to believe it’s not dairy—or gluten. It also makes a great pie filling and comes out kinda torte-like if you freeze it. Hope this is chocolaty enough for you Michelle!

P.S. My next two posts will also be gluten-free. Check out the Cinco de Mayo one tomorrow.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I have a friend coming over tonight so I thought I would be a good hostess and bake something yummy. My favorite cake is red velvet cake. So moist and sweet, it really does melt in your mouth like velvet. I haven’t had any since I went vegan, so I thought it was time to pull out my cupcake tin again and make some.

I Googled “vegan red velvet cupcakes” and the first link to come up was from a blog called Mac & Cheese.  These Red Velvet Cupcakes have no complicated ingredients and stay pretty true to the original recipe, which is what I wanted since I love it so much. The author adapted the recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, a book I am dying to get.

I halved the recipe and made a few changes. I used mirin instead of apple cider vinegar because it is what I have on hand. The vinegar is for leavening mainly, and you use so little that it does not alter the taste really. I also used hemp milk instead of soy because I like it better. I used melted dark chocolate instead of coco powder and butter instead of vegetable oil.

Nice deep red color.

The biggest change was the coloring. I used beet juice instead of food coloring. I did this for two reasons: it’s cheaper (one stupid little tube of red dye was $4.99!) and it’s healthier. Food coloring is pretty much all chemicals—and sometimes isn’t even vegetarian because it contains carmine (beetle scales). I thought of using a natural dye after I saw my friend Eva posted a blog where she used bright foods to dye her Easter eggs (check it out here).  I Googled it and it turns out I am not the only one who doesn’t want a “red beetle cake.” I wasn’t sure how much to use at first so I added a little at a time till the color was right without thinning the batter too much. You cannot taste the beets at all. But, to be safe and keep Marquis happy, I added a bit more sugar just in case. They did not come out BRIGHT red, but that’s fine with me. I’d rather have lighter cupcakes than ones full of toxic dye.

Make your own if you can

And I have to admit, I used store-bought frosting from a can. I suck at making frosting and since these are for a guest, I wanted them to be perfect. At home my mom usually ends up fixing my pathetic attempts. I never can get the consistency right. Most can frostings are actually vegan. They are made with soy, which doesn’t spoil quickly like dairy does. I found the one with the fewest scary chemical ingredients and punch it up a bit with vegan cream cheese.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Cake:
1 cup hemp milk (or whatever non-dairy milk you prefer)
1 tsp mirin (or whatever vinegar you like)
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tps baking soda
1/2 tps baking powder
1/2 tps salt
14 g dark chocolate, melted
1 tbs vegan butter, melted
2 tps vanilla extract
The juice from 1 can of beets
Frosting
1 can vanilla frosting 
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese (try Tofutti)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a cupcake tin with cooking spray. I don’t use cupcake liners, they are just extra waste.

In a small bowl, add the mirin to the hemp milk and set aside to curdle. This is to replicate buttermilk.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Next add the milk mixture, melted chocolate, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Mix well.

Mix well so you don’t have any streaks.

Add as much beet juice as necessary to reach the desired color without thinning the batter too much. This is the main reason I didn’t use oil, cut down on the liquids to keep the right consistency. It should be slightly runny like a typical cake batter.

So happy my mom bought me a cupcake tin.

Fill the cupcake cups 3/4 the way full and bake for about 20 minutes.

They smell so good!

They are done when no longer jiggly and a toothpick inserted comes out fairly clean.

Let them cool in the pan for a bit so they are easier to remove. Then let them cool completely before frosting. I made mine the day before and refrigerated them over night.

To make the cream cheese frosting, put the frosting and the cream cheese into a bowl. Mix together well, whip it up a bit to make it fluffier. You can add some powdered sugar to thicken it up if needed.

Mix well so you don’t have cream cheese lumps.

Not only am I bad at making frosting, but I am bad at the actual frosting step as well. So, I use a piping bag instead—well actually I use a ziplock bag with the one tip cut off.

Since I added more liquid, I added some powder sugar to thicken it.

Swirl

 
I got a little fancy and made a swirl frosting. I put some beet juice in half of the frosting to make it pink. To make the swirl pattern, put half the white on one side of the bag and the pink on the other then squeeze together (I forgot to take a picture of this, sorry).

When you pipe it on to the cupcakes, the colors swirl together. Because I live in a humid place, I stuck mine in the fridge to set.

Sweet, moist, and velvety. Just as good as dairy red velvet cake. Sure to please any guest—that is if you want to share. 

Mandarin Orange Cupcakes

My mom bought me a cupcake tin last week, and although I used it to make Yorkshire Pudding, I thought it was time to make some cupcakes. When I was looking for a can of black beans yesterday, I found a random can of mandarin oranges and suddenly imagined orange cupcakes with chocolate icing. The battery was dead on my laptop so I decided to make a recipe up rather than try to look for one my phone.

Thanks mom!

Mandarin Orange Cupcakes
1 tbs flax seeds
1/2 cup HOT water
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tps baking soda
1/2 tps baking powder
1/4 tps salt
1/2 tps ground ginger
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tbs soy milk
1/2 tps vanilla extract
1 can sliced mandarin oranges, drained but reserve 1/4 of the juice
1/2 vegan dark chocolate bar

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F and spray a cupcake tin with cooking spray.

Add the flax seeds to the hot water, stir lightly and set aside for at least 10 minutes. It should make a syrupy liquid.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground ginger.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, applesauce, flax seed mixture, soy milk, and vanilla extract until slightly frothy.

Pieces of oranges and flax seed for color and texture.

Next add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Then add the oranges and the reserved juice. If mixing by hand, whisk everything very thoroughly. If you are using a mixer, mix on high for 3-5 minutes. This will break-up the orange pieces and brings air into the batter so the cupcakes are light and fluffy. 

3/4 of the way filled is perfect.

Pour the batter into the cupcake tin, filling each cup 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly golden. You can insert a toothpick into the middle of one, if it comes out fairly clean, they are done.

All cooled. You can smell the oranges.

Let them rest in the tin for a few minutes, then remove them carefully and allow them to cool completely before you ice them. The chocolate will just melt off if they are still warm.

If it’s too runny, it won’t stay on the cupcakes

Once cooled, break-up the dark chocolate a bit and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute. It will vary based on the amount and type of chocolate you use. I did 3 squares for 30 seconds. You don’t want it to be totally liquid, but it should be very loose. Stir a bit with a fork to break up any remaining solid pieces.

The fun part! I let mine sit in the chocolate for a second.

Next dip the tops of each cupcake in the chocolate, coating it to your liking (I slathered mine pretty good). Let them sit afterward for a bit for the chocolate to set.

 

A nice twist on normal white cupcakes. The ginger gives it a little bite. And chocolate and orange is always a good combination. They went great with a glass of iced citrus green tea.

They came out just as I imagined!