September 21, 2008

Citrus-Basil Cupcakes for Iron Cupcake Earth

I struggled a bit with this month's Iron Cupcake Earth challenge ingredient, basil. Nothing struck me as a the perfect sweet combination for a basil cupcake. I wanted to bring some cupcakes to a park outing with my parents so I decided to just go super simple and combine citrus and basil.

I started with the agave cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. This is a moderately sweet, golden cake that I knew would be moist and tender and not conflict with the basil flavor. I pureed the soymilk for the recipe with a what seemed like a lot of basil leaves. The color of the resulting strained liquid was less than appealing so I added green food coloring to get a bright green color. This unfortunately did not bake true. The cakes were golden on the exterior with a mucky green interior. The basil flavor in the cake didn't carry through and was lost in the slight touch of lemon.

Thankfully, there was better luck to be had with the frosting. I read recently about the advantages of using stick Earth Balance instead of tub for vegan buttercreams and made that switch. This helped stablize the frosting a great deal. I balanced the powdered sugar's sweetness with both lemon and orange juice. The small amount of chopped basil in the frosting gave a surprising amount of basil flavor which combined well with the lemon and orange zests. Alex loved the frosting and I can see myself using it again on a different cake. I fried a few basil leaves for decoration and their transparent, stained glass look was a pretty touch.

I wasn't thrilled with the final cake color,
I like to call it moldy guacamole

Citrus-Basil Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

2/3 cup soymilk
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
green food coloring, optional
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup neutral oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

-Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers
-Blend together the soymilk and basil leaves until fully pureed. Strain out the leaves and add food coloring until it reaches a bright green. Add the vinegar and allow to sit for a few minutes.
-Add the agave nectar, oil and extracts to the soymilk mixture. In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and mix until combined.
-Fill the cupcake papers two thirds of the way full. Bake 18-22 minutes until set in the center, check with a toothpick or bamboo skewer.
-Cool on a wire rack and frost.

Basil-Citrus Frosting
For 12 cupcakes

1 cup Earth Balance margarine, stick form
2 1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

-Beat the margarine til light and fluffy.
-Add the powdered sugar, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the orange juice. Beat until smooth and fluffy.
-Add the basil and citrus zests and beat until smooth again. Add the remaining tablespoon of orange juice as needed to make a smooth, fluffy frosting.
-Pipe on cupcakes and decorate with a deep fried basil leaf.

This is my Iron Cupcake Earth:Basil entry. You can vote for the best cupcake on Sunday, September 28th at No one puts cupcake in a corner. Voting ends Thursday, October 1st at 12 noon. This month's prizes are from Metal Sugar, Feista Products, Hello Cupcake, Jessie Steele, Cupcake Courier, and Taste of Home.

In other cupcake related news, I consoled myself over losing the previous Iron Cupcake challenge by commissioning a custom dog hill watercolor from Jessie Olson of Cakespy. I loved the watercolor she made of our two dogs, Karmal and Roxy, on a hill with a family of cupcakes. Thanks again Jessie! You can get your own Cakespy art at her Etsy shop.


Illatharasi said...

Coolest cupcakes I have ever seen.... looks too yummy:)

VeggieGirl said...

Doesn't look like you struggled with the challenge, to me!! Looks PERFECT!!

Looove Jessie's watercolor paintings - love the custom-made dog hill one!! :0)

Jennifer said...

Wow, I love your blog! So great :)

Btw, I thought you might like the post I made today because it contains pumpkin in cookies (similar to the muffins i posted about before). Here's a link to that post if you'd like to take a look:

I really would love to get into baking like your post today - not just via the blog. It's a hobby of mine that I'd love to pursue even more - do you have any tips? What is the contest that you were refering to in your post?


Adam said...

Way to step up to the plate Maggie. I first saw Basil with cupcakes and was skeptical, but it looks like you hit it out of the park (moldy colors aside) :)

Maggie said...

Illatharasi: Thanks!

VeggieGirl: I love the watercolor. I have to find the perfect spot of it in the new house.

Jennifer: Thanks! I sent you an email with links to how to participate in the events. The cookies sound delicious and heathier too!

Adam: Basil was a stumper at first. I hope the next ingredient works will fall inspired cupcakes. Pumpkin would be a great one to have this time of year.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Amazing! Those cupcakes are fantastic and must taste interesting! Droolworthy!



kellypea said...

LOVE the green color on these, and you get my praises for all the experimenting with ingredients. The cupcakes look very moist. And that basil leaf? Really? Just by frying? How cool is that?

shellyfish said...

Cool citrus basil! I want to taste that frosting right now! Baking green is really frustraing sometimes I find...but I still thing it looks yum, and I love the watercolor - Cakespy is the best!

The Wind Attack said...

I am a fan of the citrus and basil combo!

Did you forget to list the agave nectar in the cake ingredients here?

Also, I'd suggest making a basil oil for the cake batter... like just heat up the oil a bit and let the basil sit in it and then strain it out later... that way you could keep a nice golden color and get some of the basil flavor in the actual cake maybe....

The Wind Attack said...

I am a fan of the citrus and basil combo!

Did you forget to list the agave nectar in the cake ingredients here?

Also, I'd suggest making a basil oil for the cake batter... like just heat up the oil a bit and let the basil sit in it and then strain it out later... that way you could keep a nice golden color and get some of the basil flavor in the actual cake maybe....

Maggie said...

Rosa's Yummy Yums: Thanks! The cakes were just ok but that frosting was excellent.

kellypea: Thanks, frying the basil leaves is super easy and they last in the decorated cupcakes without wilting too!

shellyfish: I keep the food colors around for icing and haven't used it for baked stuff before. The batter was such a beautiful color I had high hopes it would bake true.

The Wind Attack: OMG! I can't believe I forgot it both in the ingredient list and in writing the recipe. Thank you so much for catching that! I fixed it.

I love the basil oil idea. The basil flavor really was carried well in the frosting but not in the cake.

Hannah said...

Your photographs looks great- I'm so glad that you found that little lighting tip useful! :)

Jess said...

the butter-cream recipe from the cake bible works really well if you sub earth balance for the butter...then you don't have to deal with that overly sweet powdered sugar flavor...i made a gluten free vegan wedding cake using this...the guests had no idea :)

love the basil/citrus combo...sounds yummy

Stacey Snacks said...

Great minds think alike.
Your citrus basil cupcakes are much like my orange/chocolate/rosemary combo!

Love the kitty photo in other post.
Stacey Snacks

sweetpotato said...

Those look beautiful! I love the color on the inside! I really enjoy the fade from more green to less green as it seems in the picture.

What tip did you use for the frosting? It's PERFECT!

Maggie said...

Hannah: Thanks for posting about it! My current kitchen only has single sources of natural light and I'm always fighting with shadows.

Jess: I'll give it a try. Sometimes I really want a change from the powdered sugar icings.

Stacey Snacks: I was thinking the same thing. Your cupcakes looked wonderful!

sweetpotato: Thanks! I used a Wilton 1M tip for the frosting. It came in a 12-piece Cupcake Decorating Kit that had some other nice large scale tips and a twinkie filling tip.

once in a blue moon... said...

love the basil citrus combo, i make a lime basil sorbet i adore, it might need this cupcake next time round!