Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

I like challenges with baking and work provides me with two. One of my friends (the same who got the hemlock wedding blanket) has a gluten intolerance and several people are vegetarian/vegan. I've already ventured into the gf world with Moscato cupcakes. Now for the vegan (the Elsa mentioned in the Moscato post as well as her boyfriend, Gregg). To be honest, I like these better. Possibly because they're chocolate... Needless to say, the first time I made these they were devoured; this time, though, Nathaniel is not allowed more than one, maybe two if one goes home.

I made three dozen of these babies. For once it's not a "just because". Soona, an awesome lady I've come to love working with (after being terrified of her for nearly six months), is leaving to attend Washington State and get her MAT. While I'm very excited for her in this new opportunity, she will be greatly missed. We are throwing her a (second) potluck party and I'm bringing drinks and cupcakes. Chocolate and sweet - they appeal to two of her likes.

These were pretty easy and for not having eggs/buttermilk/whatever, they rose really well and were moist. I did the frosting two different ways. The first time I used Ghirardelli 72% Twilight Delight chocolate. It made a very intensely dark ganache. The second time I used Scharffen Berger Semisweet Dark Chocolate. I found it at Grocery Outlet of all places and it worked really well for these cupcakes.


Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vinegar
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the vanilla extract, vinegar, oil, and water. Mix the batter until smooth.

Divide batter evenly between 12 baking cups (about ¾ full). Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from baking pan and allow to cool to room temperature.

That odd ball on the side...I ate it. And then made another dozen.


Coconut Milk Ganache

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (use dairy-free to keep vegan)
½ cup coconut milk

Place chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl. Set aside.

On medium-high heat, bring coconut milk to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching.

Pour milk over the chocolate, making sure that the milk covers the chocolate. Allow to sit for several minutes before stirring until smooth. Allow frosting to rest on the counter until it cools down and thickens to a pipe-able consistency (anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes).

Beat the frosting for several minutes until it incorporates air and feels lighter.

Place frosting in a pastry bag (or plastic bag with the corner cut out) and pipe frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.

This wasn't the one I was going to use originally, but I found it at Grocery Outlet.
It's sweeter than the first I used and still vegan.

Mmmm Smooth chocolate ganache ready to chill before whipping and piping.
My final obstacle of the day was figuring out how on earth I was going to transport 3 dozen cupcakes to work on the bus. Google came to the rescue! You know those little 9 oz clear plastic cups? Those are perfectly cupcake sized.

Frosted and chilling in the fridge to set before packing.
Simply piped ganache and a dark chocolate coffee bean.
The cup protects the frosting from squishage.
Edited 6/6/2013: These were a hit at the party. Everyone loved them (especially Elsa, Soona, and Nathaniel). I got compliments the rest of the afternoon and today as well. Several couldn't believe they were vegan.

It was a very emotional afternoon too. Soona was presented with a big frame with five of her favorite monkeys and signed by lots of people. It was the first time I, and many others, had ever seen her cry. When it came time to turn in her badge and keys at the end of the day, Phil had to drive her around beforehand so she could stop crying again. I'm going to miss that lady. We all will. She is off to wonderful adventures in the world of high school science and she will have lots of amazing stories to tell her future students.

Single Serve Shepherd's Pie

Again with my cravings. I wanted shepherd's pie but all the recipes I found were for big servings. It's only little ole me in the apartment (until the 15th anyway, but that's another story). I found one for a single serving but it didn't have everything I wanted in it, so I adapted. I was also lazy and used instant potatoes. Not as many pictures as usual because I forgot until it was already in the oven.


Shepherd's Pie for One
~Adapted from Gourmet Recipes for One

2 servings prepared instant mashed potatoes.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 pound ground beef
1 medium carrot, diced
1/4 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons ketchup (you can use tomato paste, but this is what I had on hand)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4-1/2 cup beef or vegetable stock
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup frozen corn
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a 16-ounce oven-proof dish on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and set aside.

In sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add beef, breaking up into smaller pieces, and cook until beef is browned. Season with salt and pepper. When beef is cooked through, remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Drain off excess grease from pan and wipe clean.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add carrot and cook for 7-10 minutes, until just softened. Add onion and cook for another 7 minutes or until tender. Return meat to pan and add flour, stirring to coat. Let cook for about 2 minutes.
Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and stock and season with salt and pepper. Scrape up any brown bits on bottom of pan. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to low and allow to simmer until mixture starts to thicken. Stir in peas and corn and transfer mixture to dish. Top with mashed potatoes. Smooth out top of potatoes with back of a spoon and bake for 20-25 minutes, until top of potatoes is lightly golden brown.

Finishing pictures! Like I said, I forgot until it was already in the oven.

Fresh out of the oven. Glad I lined the pan.
It made a bit of a mess...

Almost perfect way to end the night. Pie and Castle.
Perfect would have added a glass of wine.