Sunday, October 18, 2009

VeganMoFo Day Eighteen: NATIONAL CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE DAY!

That's right people. It's the day you've all been waiting for. It's NATIONAL CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE DAY! The day upon which our forefathers for generations past in this great nation have celebrated life, liberty, and all things good in the world by baking, eating, and sharing awesome vegan chocolate cupcakes. You don't even have to put "vegan" in the name of the day, because everyone knows that the best cupcakes are vegan.

(What do you mean, this is a totally made up holiday invented by companies to sell more cupcakes? BLASPHEMY! Get out of my kitchen.)

Now that we've gotten rid of the hater naysayer biaches, we can get on with our celebration of NATIONAL CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE DAY. For this year's celebration of this very important and historic holiday, I decided to bake chocolate cupcakes. I know, right?! But to give it just a little more flair and festivity, I threw some fun flavor in there. I got downright wacky. I made... (***drumrollllllllll***) chocolate coconut cupcakes, with rum frosting! (Da daaaaa!) And they're frickin good too. How'd I do it? Well, I'm gonna tell ya.


I'm sure you won't be at all surprised to find out that it began with a recipe from that very fine resource, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. This was the first book I owned by the dynamic duo of Terry and Isa, and it is what led me to understand their sheer brilliance. Anyway, you want details right? You want to try this at home. If we can do it, you can too! And what better day to try than on NATIONAL CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE DAY?! Let's go.

As per usual here on NYiG, we'll be following Melissa Bastian's one bowl one sifter no counter space method of putting stuff together.

The first thing you want to do is line your cupcake pan with paper liners, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then, in your bowl, combine 1 cup of your non-dairy milk of choice (I'm using unsweetened almond milk as always) and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Don't worry - you can use white vinegar too if you must. Whisk these together and set aside to let it curdle. Yep, it's supposed to.

Into your sifter (with the plate under it, don't forget) dump the following: 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/3 cup of cocoa, 3/4 tsp of baking soda, 1/2 tsp of baking powder, and 1/4 tsp of salt.

Now go back to your bowl of wetness, that has the curdlingness in it. To this add 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/3 cup of canola or other neutrally flavored evenly cooking veg oil. Here's where these particular cupcakes become something flashy. Instead of doing what the recipe calls for and simply adding vanilla extract, we're gonna veer. We're going to add 2 tsp of coconut extract, and 1 tsp vanilla. (No matter what flavor I'm doing , I pretty much always add vanilla as well. It gives a nice warming balance, I find.) Whisk all of these wet ingredients together until the contents of the bowl becomes a bit foamy on top.

Now you're ready to combine your dry with your wet. Sift the drys into the wets in two batches, whisking in between. Once all of the dry is in the bowl (including what fell onto that plate!), whisk until there are only a few small lumps left in the batter. It should look nice and glossy and lovely and rich and wonderful, like you.

Spoon and/or pour your batter into your cupcake liners until each one is 2/3 to 3/4 full. It sucks when your cupcakes overtop the liners; it makes it very difficult to peel the paper off! You do not want this. Listen to me here, because while I bake very tasty cupcakes, I am notorious for filling each cup too much so that I only get 11 cupcakes out of a batch of batter instead of 12, and then having the whole lot overtop their cups... oy. Also, I am terrible at spooning out the batter. I make a huge mess! If anyone has any tips on how to get this accomplished without spattering batter everywhere, I'd love to hear them.

Anyway, once you've filled all 12 cups relatively evenly, you're ready to pop that tray into your pre-heated oven. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes and/or until a toothpick comes out clean. I checked at 18 and the centers were batter city; at 20 they were perfect. Now, listen here, because this is important. As much as you may want to, DO NOT PEEK. This will ruin your cupcakes. RUIN, I say. Do I know this from personal experience? Um... uh... no... no, see, this is the ancient wisdom that is passed down from your forefathers on NATIONAL CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE DAY. Don't disrespect your ancestors, a'right?

When they are good and ready, pull your now perfectly beautiful cupcakes out of the oven and let them cool. Do not frost them now. Do you hear me? Let. Them. Cool. Walk away. Unless of course you want to eat one, like I did. Because poppets, believe me when I tell you that these cupcakes need no frosting. They stand on their own. They are totally delish, and they are gorgeous. You don't have to take my word for it. You can see for yourself. I'll save my next thousand words and just give you this.

It's almost like it has a heavenly glow, isn't it?

OK. You've tasted, and you're a believer. But you still want to frost, because frosting cupcakes is fun! Back off poncho. Go mow the lawn. Call yer mom - it has been a while since you talked to her, hasn't it? Just leave the freakin cupcakes alone for a while, kay? Kay. I'm glad we had this little talk.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Alright! I hit the town, had lunch at Curly's, got some new boots at Moo Shoes, stopped by Sur la Table and Dean and DaLuca and picked up some new extracts. It's been a couple of hours. And you know what that means? Now it's ok for me to make some frosting and go ahead and doll up those pretty cakes. The icing that I make pretty much every time (OK, fine, every time) is a variation of my mom's "buttercream" - it's really nothing but "butter", sugar, flavor, and a little liquid to make it all mesh. And damn is it good.

The full recipe calls for 1/2 cup of "butter" - margarine for me, of course, and my stick of choice is Fleischman's unsalted. (The salted has whey in it. Why? I have no frickin idea.) Yeah, that's a whole stick. Plus three cups of powdered sugar. Now, as you may imagine, that makes what we technically call an assload of frosting. If I were making a birthday cake it might be necessary, but for 12 little cupcakes it hardly is. So as usual I'm doing the half recipe, and it looks like this:
  • 1/4 cup (half a stick) of margarine
  • 1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp rum extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp almond milk (my liquid of choice, and this is just to start out with)
Remember that today we're making rum frosting, but you can use whatever extract you want in here - orange, lemon, peppermint, coconut, raspberry, cinnamon - sky's the limit. I generally keep the 2:1 ratio of other : vanilla; other than that, you can do what you want. It's not hard to add cocoa, berries, and other fun things either.

All you're going to do is dump all of these ingredients in a bowl together. (If you're extra good, maybe you already washed the bowl from your cupcake batter? Yeah, right.) Take your electric mixer and, on LOW POWER!, begin to mix. If it seems way too dry, add a tiny splash of your liquid of choice. Don't add more than a teaspoon at a time - the consistency changes very quickly. Tonight I only ended up needing to add one splash and it was perfect. Just for a little extra pizazz, I also added three controlled drops of yellow food coloring. It gave the icing a nice creamy yellow color, rather than just being sort of margarine colored. Food coloring is fun stuff, but use it sparingly, and remember that it will NOT come out of your clothes. Ever. Mix until what's in your bowl holds its shape and looks like beautiful glossy icing.

To spread icing on cupcakes, I use a small round metal spatula thing that I think is actually meant for putting spreads onto bagels. Whatev, it works. I start with a knuckle sized lump of frosting, and work in a sort of counter-clockwise circular motion around the cupcake top until there's an even coating. It's nothing fancy, but I think it has a nice, classic sort of look to it. I have an icing piper, but this icing would be a bit... much, for that much of a topping, really. It's got a kick.

Alright everyone. Happy NATIONAL CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE DAY! Enjoy your cupcakes, and I'll see you on the flipside.

3 comments:

lopsidedpigeon said...

These look amazing. I kind of have to make these today.

melissa bastian. said...

Of course you have to make them today. It's NATIONAL CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE DAY! :D

lopsidedpigeon said...

Unfortch, I couldn't make them yesterday, because for some reason there are no stores in chicago selling anything but vanilla and almond extracts. LAME. The hunt continues, though.