Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Neapolitan Cupcakes

leaves and flours vegan neopolitan bon bon cupcakes

I'm not afraid to admit that I love Valentine's Day. I could care less about actually "celebrating" it, but I love the saturation of lace and hearts. Everything in shades of pink and red. The rampant abundance of chocolate covered strawberries & fancy boxes of sweets wrapped in gold ribbons. I revel in the whimsy and femme-ness of Valentine's Day. So if you are a Valentine's humbug, you are just going to have to skip the next few weeks around here.
I came home from work one Saturday to find a light box Greg had built for me! It was such a great surprise. I am still learning a lot about photography, so I have been playing with it when I got a chance. The first round of pictures I took were total rubbish. But I got it figured out in time to photograph these cupcakes at least semi-successfully. For the back drop I ended up just using a large piece of white paper, but I am interested in playing with a few other options.
These cupcakes are inspired by the neapoliton bon bon cupcakes I saw on Sprinkles Bakes. I tried them a few other ways too. Since Greg had already built me a light box, I knew I had to find a way to incorporate the only kind of cake he really enjoys, vanilla with chocolate frosting. So I ended up making vanilla, chocolate, and swirled cupcakes and vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate buttercream. I also broke out my chocolate molds to make the toppers. I used white and dark chocolate and painted many of them with pink and gold luster dust. If you mix luster dust with a small amount of vodka, you can paint it on in layers to achieve a lot of different effects. This was sort of a trial and error process, but I had a lot of fun making the chocolates. You only see a handful of them in the photographs, but I made around 40 chocolates in 6 different sizes. Also, the vodka evaporates really quickly, so you don't have to worry about it soaking into the chocolate or tasting boozy!

leaves and flours vegan neopolitan bon bon cupcakes leaves and flours vegan neopolitan bon bon cupcakes leaves and flours vegan neopolitan bon bon cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes
makes 10 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
2 tsp white vinegar
1/4 cup oil
1 tbl vanilla extract
1 Ener-G egg

Make Ener-G egg. While resting, curdle coconut milk and vinegar in a bowl. Add sugar, oil, and vanilla to bowl. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until just combined. Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Strawberry Frosting
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1/2 cup shortening
3 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 bag Trader Joe's freeze dried strawberries
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-5 tablespoons milk of preference

Cream Earth Balance and shortening. Add half of powdered sugar and mix until combined. In a food processor or blender, pulvarize strawberries until their form a fine dust. Pour this into frosting with the remaining sugar, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of milk. Beat until fluffy. Add additional milk by tablespoon as needed for consistency.

leaves and flours vegan neopolitan bon bon cupcakes leaves and flours vegan neopolitan bon bon cupcakes leaves and flours vegan neopolitan bon bon cupcakes leaves and flours vegan neopolitan bon bon cupcakes

Just to keep things on the up and up, the strawberry frosting in the pictures is different from the recipe above. I made the a frosting using the same proportions as above but without the freeze dried strawberries and added a few drops of LorAnn strawberry flavoring and some pink food coloring. It tasted like chemically kool-aid, and I wouldn't make it again. I have made frosting using the dried strawberries and think it tastes much better, even if it's a little more faint. I have also tried using fresh strawberry puree, but it always curdles my frosting so I tend to avoid it when it is going to be visible.
Is anyone else a Valentine's Day lover? Do you have anything fun planned to bake or surprise some people you care about with? I have a few tricks up my sleeve this year! And I have already been working on hundreds of pink sparkly sugar cookies for the bakery. There are so many hearts and arrows and X's & O's!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sticky Rice with Mango

leaves and flours vegan coconut sticky rice with mango

In my continued quest for lower sugar desserts, it crossed my mind that I have never made coconut sticky rice before. It is quite possibly one of my favorite desserts. Last month Greg and I went to a restaurant called Thai X-ing that makes the best sticky rice in existence. You can't fight it. You won't win. What I made was not even remotely on the same scale as theirs, but it was ok. I used this recipe I found on Yummly that seemed simple enough and didn't require too much effort. I probably wouldn't try that recipe again. I will learn the secrets of sticky rice someday! Have you ever made it before? Do you have any tips?
This week has continued to be full of change and upheaval. I have adjusted to my new living situation and have everything unpacked. Now I just have to hang the curtains in our bedroom. They have been folded for approximately 14 months, because I never managed to hang them in my last room. This time around it will really happen! I have all sorts of lists of things that I need to get done. Somehow the lists are full of all these minute tasks that I keep putting off, but they really do add up after a while. Despite the warnings for snow tomorrow, spring is rapidly approaching. That means things will pick back up at the bakery. There are so many holidays and little events packed into February and March. I've got my heart cookie cutters secured, but I still have to gather some shamrocks, butterflies, and eggs. Maybe even a football for the super bowl?! I am definitely looking forward to spring. I can't wait for longer days and warmer weather.
leaves and flours vegan coconut sticky rice with mango

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cinnamon Buns

leaves and flours vegan cinnamon buns

I have another confession to make. I am addicted to teen dramas. It all started with Roswell. Combine aliens and first kisses, and I just couldn't stop watching. Now I have worked my way through Veronica Mars, Buffy, Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries, and the single season filmed of The Secret Circle. I even matched all of Angel despite how terrible it is, for completion's sake. I think the only popular teen drama that I haven't gotten sucked into yet is Pretty Little Liars. I am trying to restrain myself.
I can't imagine a much better way to spend a grey, foggy mid-week day off than watching one of those shows in my pajamas while eating cinnamon buns. Even through my sniffly nose I could smell the yeast and spices filling the house. Paired with a giant glass of orange juice, my lazy day was complete.
The dough recipe I used was slightly modified from this recipe at Whipped. I substituted the soy milk for full fat coconut milk, because the extra fat makes the dough even softer. I also halved the dough, because 12 cinnamon buns is far too many for me to have at my disposal when I will be home alone all afternoon. For the filling, I dotted about 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance over the dough and then sprinkled on one half cup of sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons of cinnamon.

leaves and flours vegan cinnamon buns leaves and flours vegan cinnamon buns

I also just got my DC library card. The only problem is that instead of reading intelligent, adult level books I am still hooked on the teen drama?! I am reading the Vampire Diary books at the moment, which are completely different from the show's story line. Not quite as different as the Secret Circle, but I don't even understand how the CW really pulled off changing both plots so drastically?! Please tell me that you also have some terribly guilty book or TV obsession? Maybe almost as embarrassing as mine?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gingerbread granola

leaves and flours vegan gingerbread granola

My internet presence has been a little quiet so far this year, but mostly because things have been so hectic in the other aspects of my life. Work is never-ending. Just when I think things will become peaceful for a few days, something else comes up. I have also been preoccupied with moving & getting settled in my new space. While I really enjoy the de-cluttering that moving lends itself to so swimmingly, the initial stress of it all sorts of throws me into a tizzy. I have also been facing the massive challenge of trying to eat less sugar. As a baker, sweets surround me. And I have taken advantage of this for far too long. I am trying to be a little more conscious of what I eat. Not consuming much sugar has led me to bake much less at home. I had tucked away Celine's recipe for gingerbread granola as soon as I saw it. Once the taste of the thousands of gingerbread men I hand cut for the holiday cookie rush had left my mouth, I knew it was time to bake the granola. I used version two which has a little more of a molasses kick. The taste of the granola is right on point. It's sweet & decadent enough that it feels like I am eating cookies for breakfast, but don't feel quite so guilty afterwards. Celine also tweaked the recipe to create a speculoos version, which I will definitely be making as soon as I make my way through this batch! I hope everyone is off to a wonderful new year!

leaves and flours vegan gingerbread granola