Golden Vanilla Cupcakes with Fresh Berries

I realize we have lived through the cupcake fad and are on to... what are we even on to right now besides kale and juicing? Churros, maybe. Anywhoo, as I have always been one to zig at a zag- here's my retro ode to 2006 with a recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. It's a pretty simple one, using the topping from Sexy Low-Fat Vanilla Cupcakes p(41) on the Golden Vanilla Cupcakes (p33). We had friends over for dinner, and (as per usual) I went a bit over the top with the main course and needed a simpler desert. Boyfriend to the rescue, he actually did the baking on this one, I just made the icing and dressed them up for the party.

The cupcakes have been on here before (in the Boston Cream and with a simple Chocolate Ganache. I have to say, the topping on this iteration really classed them up, though. You need to prepare it just before serving (or the cakes would get soggy). It's a raspberry preserve on top of the cake with some artfully stacked berries (standing on their heads for your entertainment), and the icing drizzled over. All in all, a bit sweet on top, but the cupcakes themselves aren't too sweet so it's a decent balance. A+ #1 and totally toddler-friendly (though she was more concerned with playing with the cat then eating- smart kid.)

Dear Isa, I lurve you.

Okay, I would simply describe the recipe for the Skillet Stir Fry from Isa Does It. But, I feel that I have called out so many of her recipes, that this calls for something more... a love letter. Dear Isa, Where do I even start? Your recipes have convinced throngs of my friends and family that I'm an amazing wonder chef. You have taught me how to take a pile of mush with gluten flour and steam it to make f-ing sausages. Your Brooklyn Pad Thai is to die for. Because of Vegan Brunch, I am a master crepe chef. To say nothing of cupcakes that no one at any party believed were vegan. You gave us Appetite for Reduction- a calorie conscious book with the most amazing title ever. But then my life led me away from hour + long cooking endeavors and into 12+ hour days at work. Experimenting with recipes, weekend trips to the farmer's markets and veganism in general all fell by the wayside. I had nearly given up on cooking, my beliefs and this sad, old, neglected food blog. Until...Isa Does It came out- a massive tome dedicated to meals that could be prepared in about 30 minutes. I had become a firm believer in "good things take time" from my RFD book, but every thing I have tried from this book- the Summer Seitan Saute, Potato Leek Soup, Beefy Asparagus Stir Fry, etc- all are SO tasty and so flipping easy. I have had to revise my earlier stance on good food needing a long time to cook. And this- the wonders of the cast iron skillet and perfectly browned tofu. I mean, without you, Miss Isa, I could be out on the streets eating french fries from a fast food chain and pairing it with frozen pizza. You have elevated my cooking life. And for that, I am forever grateful and fatter. Yours truly, Nancy

Boston Cream Cupcakes

I'm slowly working my way through every single recipe in this book! These were fantastic and were a huge hit with some non vegan friends, which I thought was great since the cream is tofu based. I tried PPK's tip of subbing 1/4 of the flour in a recipe for coconut flour (they said that it makes everything taste like a Twinkie)- which I have to say, it kind of did! I was concerned about these in the batter stage. I used the superfine sugar that the cream calls for in the cupcake batter. I had never heard that the superfine sugar creams with margarine in 1/2 the time. So, I think it was over mixed? What happened is when the liquid was added, the fat would not mix in. It was totally seperated. I should've probably started over with wet ingredients at that point, but since I made a total of 10 recipes yesterday (Easter), I was lazy and just added in the dry ingredients.

They were minorly sunk in, but were fine otherwise, and once filled and ganached- totally fine. There were less sunk in cupcakes in the bunch, but I served the pretty ones to our friends and was left with these potholed ones for the photo.

The cream was surprisingly good, I did add some vanilla to it to counter the tofu taste though. All in all- another fantastic cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World!

144 of the tastiest little cupcakes you ever did eat!

In hindsight, I realize that I should have taken individual photos. Alas, I didn't- but I did try two new cupcake recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I love having the excuse to make them (parties, etc) because generally we don't want cupcakes running amok in our house and pleading to be eaten whenever we go into the kitchen. These were made for the opening of a pop-up shop that I'm taking part in at Reform School here in L.A. (see HERE for info).

I am realizing that I have a pretty fierce Martha streak. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and to overdo things a tad (I made 12 dozen mini cupcakes for the party). In this instance, it was a good thing b/c they all proved to be necessary and were all eaten up that night.

So, the new ones were the Basic Chocolate Cupcake (with buttercream frosting) and the Golden Vanilla Cupcake (with chocolate ganache frosting). Both were great (no real surprise there). The Chocolate was really moist and rich and was just an excellent classic chocolate cake. The buttercream is poofy and sweet and made for a very grade-school-party-cupcake with the chocolate.

The vanilla one was drier (and dried out a lot faster the next day (I had squirreled some away for us to keep). But on the day of the party, they were still delicious and were so great with the ganache. It really classed up a plain vanilla cupcake.

The third offering was carrot with cream cheese frosting, which has proven to be a staple go-to cupcake for any grown up party. Everyone loves them and they are always the first to go when there's options.

Incidently, making 144 mini cupcakes isn't too big of a deal (it was 4 batches of batter), but frosting 144 mini cupcakes is a HUGE pain! In case you're planning to make 12 dozen cupcakes in the near future, I thought you ought to be warned.

Carrot Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Frosting

Everything that I've tried from Vegan Cupcakes Rule the World is amazing. Ironic, because one of the co-authors of that book also authored the book that I just posted about (the disaster casserole from hell).

This recipe is really good! The cupcakes are incredibly moist to the point of being almost soggy (the papers are kinda soaked). The frosting is great and made enough just for the one batch (unlike the cookies and cream frosting that made enough for 24 cupcakes). It requires an entire cup of finely grated carrots, which is great (I can try to delude myself into thinking that it's health food). I would try putting more spices in them next time, though. They have cinnamon and ginger in them, but I think - maybe I'm getting it mixed up with spice cake, but I thin kit would be better spiced up. Maybe nutmeg? Allspice? More cinnamon and ginger?

Or, as Davey insists, they're great the way that they are!

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Hello "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" book, goodbye to any prospect of wearing a bikini this year! These are over the top. They are delicious and insanely decadent and I would not recommend making a batch unless you have 11 friends to share them with (maybe 10 friends- two indulgent cupcakes never hurt anyone).

One of the best parts about these is that you get to buy Newman O's. The reason that this is great is three fold. One- Paul Newman was a dreamboat and his picture is on the package (even elderly Paul Newman was a dreamboat). Two- all the proceeds for Newman's Own products go to charity. Three- they're effing good cookies.

The cupcakes are great, it's a basic chocolate recipe that has a bunch of different recommended variations- cookies and cream is just one of them. I do wish that I had smashed my cookies a bit finer, I hit a few crunchy crunches in the cupcake here and there, but that's fine too. There are worse things in life than bits of cookies. The cake is moist and has a great, deep chocolate flavor. It's funny because vegan bakery has a bad rep as being really dry. I've had dry vegan bakery at cafés once or twice, but have never made it. Every recipe that I have is super duper moist. There goes that myth. I have a theory though- I think it has that rep b/c it doesn't sell as fast and people are eating old, dried out stuff.

The frosting is the vegan buttercream with the cookies and cream variation- you smash up five cookies (half of what's in the cupcakes) and mix it into the frosting. The recipe made enough frosting to frost two batches of cupcakes and I would love to have a vegan bud around who wants my extra frosting, b/c 24 cupcakes is out of control. The frosting is simple and amazing. It's redonkulously sweet, which is good on these cupcakes because they aren't over the top sugary. It is a bit disturbing to think that you're eating mostly margarine, shortening and sugar for the frosting, but ya know what? It's a treat! It shouldn't be all spinach and broccoli all the time, life needs sugar too!

Oh, and I had to post two pics because it really only was a matter of time until our kitty Maxwell crashed my food photo shoots (see the right side of the image with 3 cupcakes in it).

Peanut Butter Cupcakes w/ Chocolate Ganache

These are the Peanut Butter Cupcakes and the Chocolate Ganache from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (of Vegan With a Vengeance and Vegan Brunch) and Terry Hope Romero (of Viva Vegan, a book that I just got and will try out this week).

They're really amazing. Davey described them as, "a peanut butter punch in the face". Which is apt. The ganache is a mite bitter (I used bittersweet chips), but it's an excellent balance to the sweet peanut butter in the cupcakes. These were really easy to make and had surprising ingredients- flax seed is used for an egg replacer, and it had the vegan "buttermilk" combo of soy milk and apple cider vinegar. I am getting better at creating my own dishes lately, but it's still great to make others recipes because of things like this that I would never think to do. I don't have worlds of experience baking, but I didn't know that cupcakes could require buttermilk (or it's vegan substitute). Anyway, they're moist, intensely flavorful and delicious.

I got this book in hopes of utilizing it for Davey's studio open house (coming soon) and any vegan bake sale that I may partake in. I won't often be making cupcakes just for us, since twelve cupcakes in the house is a dangerous thing. The ones that I'm most excited to try though are; Cookies and Cream (utilize Newman O's), Brooklyn vs Boston Cream Pie Cakes (filled with vegan custard), Toasted Coconut Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream Frosting (salivating), and Tiramisu. So, yeah, I hope I find some great fund-raising sales that I can bake for soon!