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.

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Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

Valentines day this year marked the beginning of my reading week, and a visit from Tom for the last weekend of Winterlude. Upon beginning a week of relaxing, eating, and reading, I decided to make cupcakes for my two valentines: my dad and my boyfriend. Not wanting to stick to classic vanilla or chocolate, I thought I would try something new.

Vegan Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

Ingredients for the batter
2 cups flour
1 cup icing sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups almond milk
2 chai tea bags
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp flaxmeal, with 3 tbsp water

Ingredients for the frosting
3 cups icing sugar
1 cup vegan margarine
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon

First I brought the almond milk to a low boil in a small pot, turned off the element, and steeped the tea bags for 10 minutes. While the tea bags were steeping I mixed together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Once the tea was done steeping I removed the tea bags and stirred in the apple cider vinegar, letting it sit for about 5 minutes. This makes an equivalent for buttermilk. I let the flaxmeal soak in 3 tbsp water for a few minutes, and meanwhile added the coconut oil and vanilla to the tea mixture. I added the flaxmeal to the wet ingredients then incorporated the wet into the dry mixture.

I evenly distributed the batter into 12 lined and greased muffin cups. Because it was Valentine’s Day I used my heart-shaped muffin cups, given to me by my best friend, Charlotte. The batter baked for 20 minutes at 350 degree Fahrenheit.

For the frosting, I whipped together all the ingredients until smooth and piped them in different designs on the completely cooled cupcakes.

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They tasted more like cinnamon bun cupcakes to me, and were delicious with coffee for breakfast one morning. Also, margarine keeps a soft texture and does not harden the way buttercream frosting does. Overall I was happy with the way they turned out, and I will definitely be making more vegan cupcakes in the future. 

Vanilla Whoopie Pies

Here is a pastry you do not come across home-made very often: whoopie pies. They are similar to cupcakes, but rather than the frosting on top, it is sandwiched between two pieces of cake, and the cake has the consistency of a soft cookie and a cake combined. In my opinion, they are heavenly. While at work yesterday, there was an opportunity to experiment with a recipe, so I chose to make Vanilla Dream whoopie pies from the cookbook Whoopie Pies by Hannah Miles. 

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Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour (I used regular flour, plus 1 tbsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup hot water (not boiling)

I greased two whoopie pie pans (it should be 24 cavities in total, making 12 pies. I originally thought that each cake would get cut in half, so I ended up filling 18 cavities), and set them aside. Using an electric mixer, I creamed the butter and sugar together until fluffy, then added the egg and vanilla and beat the mixture some more. Then, I added the dry ingredients with the buttermilk and sour cream and blended until just combined. I finished by adding the hot water. Next, I scooped the batter into the prepared pans, and left them to stand for 10 minutes. Then, I baked the cakes for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the vanilla butter cream, I used a batch of vanilla frosting that was already made, but here is the recipe from the book.

Ingredients

1/2 cup softened butter
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk
(optional 4 tbsp raspberry preserve)

Cream the butter until light and fluffy, then add icing sugar little by little. Add the milk and vanilla and whip until smooth.

Once the cakes were removed from the oven, I let them sit for about ten minutes, then carefully unmolded them. I let them cool completely, then piped the frosting on top of half of them, and lidded them with another cake. I finished them off by sifting some icing sugar on top. The recipe also directed to put some raspberry preserve on top of the frosting, but we did not have any at work.

What I loved about the whoopie pies was that with each bite there was a perfect balance of cake and frosting, unlike cupcakes, in which you can get a mouthful of just icing, or a mouthful of just cake. I also found the cake to be lighter than a cupcake, but maybe this would be different if I had actually used self-rising flour. Overall, it was fun to make, and it was even more exciting when all but one sold within an hour and a half!

As the days get closer and closer to my departure to Argentina, I am unsure about how much more I will get to post about recipes I make until after I get back. I plan on posting about my trip, so this could temporarily turn into a travel blog about growing vegetables. I will also most certainly post about the food I am eating.