Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The "Third-Try" Cupcakes

edit 9/28: Voting has started for these cupcakes. Please vote before this Thursday, October 2nd!

Oh, dear me. I can only imagine how lucid this post is going to be. I'm pumped full of every available cold suppressant to get through my classes at the community college, school, and rehearsal and before even starting, I could hardly remember if I'd even posted my Iron Cupcake entry. Jesus. Let's do this.

I was really enthusiastic this month about taking on my first challenge, and it gave me to excuse to plan a use for my dwindling summer basil. Ah, how I'll miss you, blossoming herbs. How I loathe paying obscene prices for you in the supermarket.

My initial plans went through a variety of phases and three different batches - both for cupcakes and toppings. As you can imagine I became rather frustrated and my competing frustrations did nothing to appease. No excuse for sloppiness, I know, but bear with me.

Mexican hot chocolate is a cinnamon-infused chocolate drink with a kick, and the cupcake adaptation is ripped right from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World with just a few adjustments. The cupcakes were topped with an Agave-Lime-Basil Buttercream made with a basil-lime syrup. If I were to make these again, I would drizzle some of the syrup over the batter before sliding the cupcakes into the oven and see if it would create a ribbon effect - otherwise, I did not add any basil to the cupcakes themselves. I meant to originally, but under the hectic circumstances I spaced.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Agave-Lime-Basil Buttercream

I had some leftover sugared basil from a (failed) experiment, and I crushed a handful to add to the buttercream. And voila. Exhausting but tasty cupcakes. The recipe is probably my favorite from VCTOTW - sweet with a kick, which I missed last month with the chili pepper challenge. The buttercream is really delicate - the basil adds an herby flavor that works with the sweetness, flowery almost. The lime really shines here too, which I think works well the slightly spicy chocolate.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Agave-Lime-Basil Buttercream

Voting starts at No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner this Sunday, September 28th - I'd be eternally pleased with a vote or two. After all - YOU DECIDE! Any which way you vote - let's go vegan, okay?

Exciting prizes, ya'll - there's this month's incredible Etsy artist is Metal Sugar, Head Chefs by Fiesta Products, Hello Cupcake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, those lovely Jessie Steele Aprons, the ever-practical Cupcake Courier, and Taste of Home!

In review - great prizes, you decide, September 28th, I'd love a vote, but go vegan - all set? Good.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes (Originally from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
makes 12 cupcakes

1 c coconut milk (soy or rice milk works)
2 tablespoons flaxseeds
¾ c all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn meal
¼ c almond meal
½ Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 c granulated sugar
1/3 c applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 12-muffin pan.
2. Grind flaxseeds in a blender or coffee grinder and whisk one tablespoon of the ground flaxseeds with the milk. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes.
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne in a large bowl.
4. With the remaining flaxseeds still in the blender, add the corn meal and almond meal. Grind until fine. Whisk the mixture into the sifted ingredients.
5. Whisk sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and almond extract into the milk mixture. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk gently, taking care not to overmix.
6. Fill the cupcake liners or muffin tins ¾ full. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Leave cupcakes in pan for 3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Lime-Basil Syrup
(adapted from
this recipe)
½ c granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lime
¼ c fresh lime juice
1/8 c water
½ c loosely packed fresh basil

1. Bring sugar, zest, juice, and water to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil for one minute more. Remove from heat and let syrup stand uncovered for at least 15 minutes.
2. Transfer to a blender. Add basil and blend until basil is fully incorporated.
3. Cool. Use to glaze cupcakes, add ribbons to cupcake batter before baking, or even use leftovers in drinks and as an ice cream topping.

Agave-Lime-Basil Buttercream
¼ c nonhydrogenated shortening
¼ Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
2 c confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons agave nectar
4 tablespoons Lime-Basil Syrup, or to taste

1. In a stand mixer cream together shortening and margarine until smooth. Scrape down sides as needed.
2. Add in 1 c confectioners’ sugar and beat.
3. Beat in agave nectar and Lime-Basil syrup until creamy.
4. Continue adding in sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

"but what about eggs? EVERYONE eats eggs?!"

Can anyone guess what's missing?



Did somebody ask... where do I get my protein? *Collective vegan (pity) laughter.*

All veganism hilarity aside (though "Steven" isn't really a vegan - you can check out the backstory at the bottom of this Satya back article), fuck YouTube.

And by that, I mean fuck people on YouTube. Snarky commenters do not exclusively troll the largely ignored but far too often spammed with narrow-minded notions comments page on YouTube. They troll and spam most any site with a comments option. I get most frustrated with YouTube punks, though, because it's more frustrating to read some fool using the barrier of "teh interwebs" to attack someone who has put themselves out there with a video. Count "Steven the Vegan" pages aside, which features some gems from the classic ring of shameless, selfish, cholesterol-through-the-roof, bacon-hugging, use-the-internet-as-a-defense-mechanism commenters, including but not limited to some sad fuck who was sweet enough to go through all the trouble of enumerating some collective of diabetes articles just to share his wealth of knowledge against veganism. You can come across just about any video, be it as innocent as an attempt at personal video blogging or your video tour of Central Park pretzel carts, and those homebodies with nowhere to go and nothing to do but vent their self-loathing across WiFi towers will surely have tagged it with their self-indulgent slander.

And every time I see it, I wan't to post something just as snarky and just as mean in return. But I never do, because those commenters forget one thing.

No one reads their BS. Oh, correction: No one cares.

Cough, cough... ahem. Anyway, I'll probably have something more relevant to post tomorrow/next week.

Monday, September 1, 2008

ewie ew.

Animal lover I may be, but a fan of bugs I am not. I don't mind them when they're, you know, outside in their natural habitat. Yes, yes, bugs are animals - I don't wish them harm or seek to kill them when they're in my home, I am just very squeamish with the creepy crawlies. They evoke connotations of dirtiness and incessant buzzing. I am most terrified of spiders, but I can't even stand slugs. Slugs. You know, those things that haven't moved more than an inch between the time you first saw them, got up and ate something, watched a movie, wrote, directed, and starred in a movie, and came back to see if they're still there. Yeah, I'm afraid of those too.

And if I see a bee? You would think I'd been out and out swarmed by them by the way I scream and dance away. This is probably one of my more justified fears (irrational perhaps, but justified) because everything gave me hives as a kid. I haven't had an outbreak in years, but I was a very allergic child. I convinced myself so early on that I would be allergic to bees if I were ever stung that if I were to be now, I'd probably have an allergic reaction out of sheer paranoia.

So why the manifesto on why bugs freak me out? Because my house is absolutely infested. With gnats. Mother-effing fruit flies. I looked it up and apparently gnats are attracted to sink drains, trash bins and compost bins, and fresh fruit. And because I'm all green and what not with my let's-not-waste! attitude to compliment the what I thought was a sufficiently covered compost bin in the pantry, and because I like the enzymes in my bananas and tomatoes to remain active, and because I have plumbing like most people... I had all those things. And now the kitchen is really fucking infested. The situation reiterates itself in the morning when I wander in and the coffee pot that was left out (not by me, mind you, because I take my coffee single-serve) is teeming with them. Fan-freaking-tastic.

I'm afraid to walk into my kitchen. It has established a blockade between me and my favorite pastime - eating. I'm so frustrated.

We have a couple of those sticky strips that attract the gnats and have tried to control their other sources of attraction. It seems to helping, a little. Right now I'm just trying to control the problem before I have to resort to sprays or poisons, which I really, really don't want to do.

edit: The number of them have actually subsided; sealing off food more and the strips seem to have helped.