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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut!

So Courtney and I were a bit nutty this past weekend and in celebration of national Vegan Pizza Day we wanted to make a dessert.  Well, we decided to make two dozen cupcakes for this event.  Two dozen?  Yes, we're freaks.  This was probably a bad decision, considering I ate 5 of them.  Eek!  I'm paying for it now.  With cupcakes so delicious, though, how can you resist?  We made Maple Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream Frosting and Candied Walnuts as well as Rosewater Pistachio Cupcakes.  Like I said, we were feeling a little nutty!  ;-)  Just eat in moderation or be like me and work it off in hot yoga!

Maple Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 cupcs all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 cup sugared walnuts (recipe follows), finely chopped
Maple Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)

Sugared Walnuts
1 cup walnut halves
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Dash salt
Dash ground cinnamon

To make the sugared walnuts:

Preheat oven to 275.  Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes.  Open oven and shake the pan after about 4 minutes.  Watch carefully so as not to burn!  Remove from oven and place in a bowl to cool.  (You can also toast them on the stovetop.  Just place the walnuts in a skillet over medium heat and toss frequently for a few minutes.)  Lightly grease a large piece of parchment paper and have it ready because you will need it at the end of the next step.

Pour sugar, maple syrup, and salt into a large, cold, heavy bottom skillet.  Turn heat to medium and stir with a wooden spoon till sugar starts to melt and bubble, about 5 minutes.  Continue stirring and cook another 3 to 4 minutes until mixture is thick, amber brown, and smells like caramel.  Remove from heat and quickly stir in the walnuts and cinnamon, stirring to coat each nut.  Immediately spread coated walnuts on greased parchment paper, using a spatula to spread out the nuts and avoid forming large clusters.  Allow to cool completely on sheet before handling or eating. 

To make cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. 

Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl; set aside and allow to curdle for a few minutes.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg into a separate bowl and mix.  Whisk the maple syrup, oil, brown sugar, and vanilla and maple extract into the soy milk mixture.  Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients; stirring till large lumps are gone; fold in chopped sugared walnuts.  Fill the cupcake liners two-thirds of the way.  Bake 18-20 minutes.  Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.  Frost with Maple Buttercream Frosting and sprinkle with Sugared Walnuts.

Maple Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance)
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons maple extract
1/4 cup plain soy milk or soy creamer (any non-dairy milk)

Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.  Add the vanilla and soy milk, beat for another 5 to 7 minutes until fluffy.



Pistachio Rosewater Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup vanilla soy yogurt
2/3 cup non-dairy milk
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons rosewater
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Generous pinch cardamom
1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios, lightly toasted if desired
Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting
Chopped pistachios, for garnish (1/2 cup)
Pink decorating sugar crystals (about 1 tablespoon), optional

Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together yogurt, non-dairy milk, oil, sugar, and rosewater.  Sift in flour, cornstarch, baking soda, bakings powder, cardamom, and salt.  Mix until relatively smooth.  Fold in pistachios.  Fill liners three-quarters of the way.  Bake 20 to 22 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting. 

Frosting: Use the recipe above, just omit the maple extract and instead add a teaspoon of rosewater. 

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