Pumpkin Cupcakes with Macadamia Nut Frosting

Dreena Burton: she knows what’s up.

For years I have been searching for macadamia nuts that do not may contain peanuts, and last weekend my dad found some at Costco!! This is a happy moment; for those of you with food allergies, you get what I am talking about. So, I was finally able to make a recipe that I had on the backlog for months: Dreena Burton’s Vegan Pumpkin Cake and Fluffy Macadamia Mallow Frosting. For her thorough and delicious recipe complete with tips for modifications, go here. Burton is the author of “Let Them Eat Vegan” that is full of delicious vegan recipes for the whole family. I highly recommend it.

Here is my experience with the recipe.

I made my own macadamia nut butter by soaking the nuts in water and blending them into a butter with a food processor. I had to soak the nuts and rinse them well, as they were salted and roasted. Ideally I would have liked to buy actual macadamia nut butter, or make the butter from raw macadamias, but these things are hard to find peanut-free. I would have also liked to use a Vitamix, but I do not own one.

First thing to do is put a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, for the frosting.

Ingredients for the Cake
Dry Ingredients
2 1/4 cups flour (I used half millet flour and half white all-purpose)
1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsps, sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/16 tsp ground cloves
(1/8 tsp allspice – I had to omit this because I did not have any)

Wet Ingredients
3/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used soy)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup neutral flavoured oil (I used melted coconut oil)

I preheated the oven to 350*F and greased 12 muffin tins (next time I will do 18, as the batter rose more than I expected it to. Cupcakes can be smaller because of the frosting on top that makes them larger).

In a large bowl I whisked together the dry ingredients. For optimal blending of the batter, they should be sifted, but I was lazy. If you do not sift dry ingredients in recipes, make sure that you whisk it well to ensure the lumps are out, and when incorporating the wet ingredients, ensure that there are not any lumps.

In a medium bowl I whisked together the wet ingredients, then added the wet mixture and the oil to the dry ingredients. I used a spatula to incorporate the ingredients together, scraping the bottom of the bowl to ensure everything blended. I filled the muffin tins with batter and baked them for 25 minutes, until a toothpick came out clean. This is how long it took for my cupcakes, as the tins were full, but with 18 instead of 12, I think it would take more like 18 minutes. When in doubt, set the timer for less time than you think, and check on them. I let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting them.

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Ingredients for Frosting
1 can of coconut milk, refrigerated over night*
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeded*
3 tbsp macadamia nut butter
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (found it at the health food store)

*note: I used a brand of coconut milk called Arayuma. I got it at the health food store, and it claims to be organic, fair trade, and preservative-free. 1% of the proceeds go to protecting Sri Lanka’s wild elephants. It was the cheapest coconut milk there, and I wanted to try a good-quality coconut milk. I have heard that canned coconut milk is not too good for you, but I am not exactly sure why. Anyway, I just wanted to try something new.

*note: cut vanilla bean length-wise and use a knife to scrape out the dark paste inside. You can use 1 tsp vanilla extract if you don’t want to use vanilla bean.

To make the frosting, first off, I scooped out the fatty part of the coconut milk, making sure to leave behind all the coconut water. The fat is much more solid than I was expecting, and took up about 2/3 of the can. I placed the coconut fat into a large bowl and whipped it with an electric mixer for about a minute to fluff it up. I added the salt, sugar, vanilla bean, and nut butter and slowly whipped it to incorporate, and added the xanthan gum last. I whipped the frosting for about two minutes until it was creamy. I put it in the fridge to let it solidify a bit more, leaving it in there for about 10 minutes.

Using a piping bag, I piped the frosting on the cupcakes. It would have been easy to just use a knife to spread it on the cupcakes, but I felt like they deserved a little more love than that, given how delicious they are.

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With the leftover coconut water, I plan on making a green smoothie and adding it to that. For the leftover pumpkin puree, check out this recipe of mine from a previous post.

Rosemary Seed Crackers

After a fun and relaxing holiday I am buckling down to finish the last semester of my Master’s degree in psychotherapy. Just like last semester I am trying to ensure that I am eating well during these busy weeks. It is so tempting to buy food at the cafeteria, but it is important to me to make my own healthy snacks at home and bring them to school. My favourite snacks include trail mixes with nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, figs, dates, popcorn, and occasionally chocolate chips are my go-tos), fruit, home-made granola bars, home-made cookies (such as blackbean or hemp-seed based cookies), home-made muffins, feaux peanut butter with banana or apple (I love adding cinnamon), hummus with veggies or crackers, and avocado and nutritional yeast on crackers. My ultimate favourite add-ons to any savoury snack or salad is veggie pâté and home-grown sprouts.

A lot of these snacks are pretty simple, and I’m sure a lot of them are not new to any of you, but my goal in listing my favourite snacks is to inspire some new creativity among anyone who reads this. If you have any other vegan go-tos, let me know!! I’m always looking to be inspired with food.

Moving along to the recipe at hand.

Crackers are a tricky food because many of the store-bought ones contain many unpronounceable ingredients. Not only that, but a lot of crackers have a great deal of sodium in them. I’m not saying I never eat things with excess salt or that have been processed, but I try to keep these foods to a minimum. And, that is why one of my new years resolutions is to make my own crackers. Here is a recipe I tried last weekend. It is good with hummus, veggie pâté, or just on its own. It has protein and veggies in it, which is what I look for in snacks. This recipe was inspired by “The Complete Book of Raw Food 2nd edition” edited by Julie Rodwell.

Ingredients
1 cup flaxmeal (the recipe calls for flaxseed, but I did no have it)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1/4 cup leek, finely chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/8 cup fresh rosemary
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
pinch cayenne
1/4 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

I soaked the flaxmeal and sunflower seeds in three cups of water for 6 hours. I then blended everything in a food processor until smooth. The batter was spread about 1/4 inch thick onto three dehydrator trays that I lined with parchment paper. The crackers were dehydrated for 16 hours at 110*F. About six hours in I scored the trays to define how big the crackers were going to be.

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The crackers turned out really well, and I am looking forward to experimenting with different kinds of raw crackers. I made some a couple years ago, so go here to check out the beginning of my dehydrating adventure

Black Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to post about this delicious, protein-filled cookie recipe. My boyfriend showed it to me over a year ago, and whenever I make too many black beans, this is my go-to recipe. It has no flour in it and is easy to make. Just to clarify, I’m don’t abide by a wheat-free diet, but I try not to make all my meals and snacks centre around it. This is for the sake of variety, which is important for ensuring I am getting enough of everything else. It is super easy to reach the ideal carbohydrate limit for the day with cereals, bread, pasta, potatoes, squash, etc. So, when I think of snacks, I’m thinking about veggies, fruits, fats (oils, nuts and avocado), and protein. I like to make sure I am eating protein whenever possible, especially in snacks, and I find protein-filled snacks are the most filling and satisfying (gluten is a protein, so I am not against that). Here is the recipe.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups black beans, or one can (rinse them well to get excess salt off)
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate chips

I preheated the oven to 375*F. In a small bowl I mixed together the maple syrup, vanilla, and chia seeds. Separately, in a food processor I blended the black beans, coconut oil, and salt until smooth (you could add 1/4 tsp cayenne powder, but I prefer not to). Then I added the wet ingredients to the food processor and blended the mixture some more. I placed the batter into a medium bowl and mixed in the chocolate chips. I then spooned the cookies on a cookie sheet that was lined with parchment paper and flattened them to the size I wanted them, as they do not rise. I prefer cookies on the smaller side, so each cookie was about 2 tbsp.  The cookies were baked for 15 minutes, and once cooled were kept in the fridge.

I remember that one batch made a pretty small amount: 8-10. So, I have doubled it before and froze the extra cookies.

No picture today, sorry folks.