March 29, 2009

Vegan Cupcake Trio for the Mammafish Project

When I read that Shelly of Musings from the Fishbowl was looking for volunteers to help create a birthday surprise for her mom I knew I had to join in. Shelly is a vegan foodblogger and former Michigander who currently lives in France. Her mom's 60th birthday was coming up and she still lives in my neck of the woods in MI. I don't think you could get me to turn down an opportunity to bake a birthday surprise for someone.

Shelly gave me the clues that her mom used to like turtle candies and wasn't a big fan of lots of butter cream. Even though I do bake with eggs and eat meat occasionally, I wanted to play the surrogate daughter and bake some vegan cupcakes in Shelly's place. With my husband as a sounding board I came up with a turtle cupcake with a pretzel crust bottom for saltiness, chocolate cake, my vegan caramel cooked softer for a filling, freshly toasted pecans, and a blob of fudge frosting for the turtle body. Since my son was hanging around looking for samples I made a vegan version of the yogurt cake he's been so fond of lately. Half I flavored with lemon and half I added matcha (powdered green tea) to. The matcha got Alex's new favorite frosting, dairy-free white chocolate ganache, and a little slice of candied ginger to make them pretty. The lemon cakes I topped with strawberry filling reminiscent of pie filling. Great strawberries are finally coming in, though it's still months before they are the best local ones. I grabbed a bunch of fragrant organic ones on my last trip up north.

My favorite cupcakes were the strawberry/lemon ones. They are brightly-flavored and make me think of spring and summer on the way. Alex loved the lemon cake but would have preferred the white chocolate ganache with it. I guess I have an Easter cake pairing all set there. The matcha cakes still needed a little more green tea flavor and I would chop the ginger into finer pieces next time because the bite with the ginger was just perfect. Alas, I was only somewhat satisfied with the turtle cupcakes. The caramel was lighter than I would have liked and the flavor was lost in the chocolate cake. The pretzel crust was tasty but it needed a little more margarine and sugar to be perfect. My husband John isn't eating sweets right now but I made sure to freeze some of the extras so he can try them and give me a solid critique. The turtle cupcakes will be getting a second run with a different caramel method, improved pretzel crust and vanilla cake. I'll post the recipe when I'm happy with it. Until then here are pictures of my baking and the recipe for the strawberry/lemon cakes.
Happy Birthday Mammafish!

Strawberry-Topped Vegan Lemon Mini Cupcakes
Inspiration taken from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe Strawberry Snack Cake and the Tofu for Two recipe Fragrant Lemon Cake.
Makes 12 mini cupcakes

Cake ingredients:
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 ounces (1/2 container) vanilla So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy milk
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons almond meal

Strawberry topping ingredients:
8 ounces strawberries, hulled and diced
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a mini cupcake pan with papers or lay out your mini nut cups on a baking sheet. I use Wilton Mini Nut Cups and I always snip the rolled edge in two spots so that the papers can be ripped off easier. Make the snip just through the edge and you won't be able to tell. You will have to inform the recipients to pull at the snipped spots.
-Prepare the strawberry topping by placing the strawberries, sugar from the topping ingredient list and cornstarch in a cold saucepan. Gently toss the strawberries in the sugar and cornstarch to coat. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally gently, until the strawberries release some of their juices and the juices bubble and thicken. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice to taste. Cooked strawberries lose some of their brightness and the lemon juice will pick that back up. Place the strawberry topping in a bowl, cover and refrigerate. You want the topping cold or it will slide off the cupcakes.
-Begin making the cupcake batter by beating the margarine and powdered sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
-Add the yogurt a tablespoon at a time, beating between each addition. Add the soy milk, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla one at a time and beat again until everything is incorporated well and the mixture is fluffy like frosting. You will need to scrape the bowl a couple of times.
-In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the margarine mixture and beat until mostly incorporated. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat just until smooth.
-Fold in the almond meal. Spoon (or scoop with a small disher) the batter into the snipped nut cups or lined mini cupcake pan. Fill each cup three quarters full.
-Place in the center of the preheated oven and back for 14-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely. The cakes will fall some while cooling.
-Top each cooled cupcake with a spoon of strawberry topping and serve.

The Mammafish cupcake project: (clockwise from top left) the trio of vegan cupcakes, laying out the pecan turtle legs, the matcha cupcake w/ white chocolate ganache and candied ginger, prepping the pretzel crust for the turtle cupcakes

40 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

Fabulous!!! And yes, happy birthday to Shellyfish's mama :-D

Erica said...

Maggie, Those cupcakes look delicious,you did a great job!
I love lemony desserts.

doggybloggy said...

dang good use of a paper cup - your creativity impresses me - for what thats worth...

Dawn said...

maggie you have such wonderful, healthy ideas up your sleeve at all times. I always look forward to your latest creation, these are amazing!

Sara said...

All three of these look amazing, I can't decide which one looks the best. I am so impressed that you are able to create vegan recipes with such great results.

shellyfish said...

You put so much thought and effort into this Maggie - you are a real friend.
I just got off the phone with my mother who just kept going on and on about how amazing these cupcakes are and how sweet Y-O-U are!
This was the most wonderful way to kick of The 60-Day Project - I couldn't have done it without you!

shelby said...

Wow, those are so cute!

I love all the different flavors and I would def. go for the strawberry/lemon flavor!

glamah16 said...

How lovely. What a nice person you are to do this.Im sure she loved them.

Daily Spud said...

I just love the look of that strawberry topping. We've quite a ways to go before we get any decent strawberries around here, so, for now, I'll just have to look and drool :)

emily said...

The strawberry ones look especially fantastic!

I love all your ideas for meatless meals. I've been trying to help my husband move closer to my more meatless ways... I might just have to try out some of these.

p.s. thanks for the Bleeding Espresso suggestion :)

Nanc Twop said...

Wow, didn't know you could bake in those little paper cups - thanks!

Donna-FFW said...

You are such a sweeite doing all this!! Extremely creative.. they all look so very delicious.

Ricki said...

What an amazing gift that is! They all look fantastic. Hmmm. . .my birthday is coming up, too. . . (well, in a little over 6 months, but hey). ;)

Heather said...

oh my gosh - they're all so adorable! i love the lemon/strawberry combo. mmmmm.

5 Star Foodie said...

A fabulous trio of cupcakes! very creative!

Esi said...

Your vegan baking is so creative and Shelly's mom sure is lucky!

Janet said...

I would definitely not be able to just eat one of those...not only do they look amazing, but you are so sweet for delivering them to mamafish. You ROCK!

Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

That is so wonderful! What a lucky birthday mom :)

Nina Timm said...

I have looked everywhere for those paper cups, but no success yet!!!
You sure have a way with cupcakes...I did not know which one to choose!!!

DJ Karma said...

So beautiful and creative! I love the turtle on top!!

Cookiemouse said...

Strawberry cupcakes forever!

lisaiscooking said...

They all look fantastic! I want to try all three.

Vegan_Noodle said...

Wow! Your cupcakes look fantastic! And I know mammafish really appreciated them. Too sweet!

stephchows said...

You had me at chocolate and pretzel crust... YUM!!!! What a great surprise for her! :)

Teanna said...

That is awesome!!! I am actually going to be cooking with a few vegan friends this weekend, so I think this may be my addition to the party! I was worried that I wouldn't be able to make any desserts without xantham gum or something!

madcapcupcake said...

Oh YUM. So sweet of you to do :)

Laura [What I Like] said...

Oh yum...if you're in the market for some good vegan desserts I cannot recommend Colleen Patrick Goudrea's the Joy of Vegan Baking enough. Her oatmeal raisin cookies are ridiculously good.

bakergirlcreations said...

Those look lovely! I love that details you put into these :)

Sophie said...

OOOOHHH Maggie, you have made my day with those cupcakes!! So lovely & pure deliciousness!!!!

TavoLini said...

oh yum--those look excellent! I love the turtle cupcakes best--super cute pecans ;)

miss v said...

i saw this post on her blog as well... how awesome that you could hand-deliver!! so thoughtful. thanks!

Sara said...

All the cupcakes look great but the turtle ones are particularly cute.

Amanda said...

Maggie..these are tooooo cute for words! You're such a sweetie..you made Mamafish's day for sure!

reneejaninemc said...

Thank you, thank you for the cupcakes! What a complete surprise. They were as delicious as they were beautiful to look at. I shared them with my daughter and son-in-law, and everyone loved each flavor. Thought the turtles would be my fave, but loved them all. It's like you'd known me for years. I hope the joy you brought me returns to you times 10. Love, Mamafish

Jamie Stern said...

I just found your site and love your recipes! I have an online store for people with food allergies and intolerances. I try to offer additional resources to them and one is to showcase cookbook authors/bloggers. I will post a recipe with full credits and links back to your website. Also, I put in press releases and social media mentions as well. I would like to share one of your favorites. I look forward to hearing from you.

debbie said...

Greetings from Russelville, Arkansas . These cupcakes are making me drool!

sprinkles said...

Those strawberry ones look divine! I have included your site in our 25 best vegan cupcake roundup post at http://partycupcakeideas.com/25-vegan-cupcakes/

wynne said...

hi,
i am making these delicious looking cupcakes for a birthday party. one of the kids is allergic to nuts. have a recommendation for an almond meal substitute?
thank you!

Maggie said...

You can use two additional tablespoons of all purpose flour in place of the almond meal.

GlutenFree said...

Nice recipe