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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Mango Muffins

With a busy semester ahead, I have decided that it would be helpful to make meals in advance and freeze them. At least one day a week I will have to eat lunch and supper at school, and it is way cheaper to bring my own food than buy it from the expensive cafeteria. If I can just grab something from the freezer the night before to thaw in the fridge, it will save me time and energy during the busy weeks.

Yesterday I made Kris Carr’s split pea soup recipe ,this time adding the kale and dulse seaweed. I also made a spicy chickpea recipe that I plan on posting later. The soup was split (haha) into small tupperware containers, and I sliced pieces of bread and froze them in individual ziplock bags to have with the soup. To make room in the freezer I had to finish off a bag of frozen mangos. So, I decided to make muffins with it. Here is the recipe that I discovered from holycowvegan.net. I used a different oil, halved the sugar, and doubled it because that’s how much mango I had. I’m thinking that you could replace the mango with any frozen fruit. Here’s the recipe for 12 muffins.

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used regular whole wheat and white flour because that is what I had on hand. It works, but I am sure that using the pastry flour would make the muffin softer and spongier)
2 cups mango purée (I’ll explain how I made that)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
6 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tbsp (or if you want more sweetness, put 3/4 cup… But I really don’t think it needs it)
2 tbsp flax meal, soaked in 6 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract

To make the mango purée, I took all the mangos I had (probably about 5 cups. I doubled the recipe) and simmered them in a pot until it resembled a chunky sauce. I had to add a bit of water at first to avoid burning. I did not add any sugar, as I figured the mango had enough sugar in it already. I then pureed the mangos with a hand blender until it was smooth, but with a few chunks.

Next I mixed all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg), and all the wet ingredients in another bowl sugar, coconut oil, flax meal mixture, and vanilla). The puree was added to the wet ingredients. Next, I incorporated the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients by folding them together with a spatula. It’s important not to over-mix.

I greased some muffin tins and used an ice cream scoop to divide the batter equally. I baked the muffins at 375*F for about 20 minutes. What I did is set the timer for 17 minutes and then checked the muffins with a toothpick until it came out clean. I judged by the look of the muffins that they were still too wet. So, they probably baked for about 22 minutes. This may be due to the fact that I doubled the recipe and had 24 muffins in there at once.

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The nutmeg in the muffin is a delicious addition, and the mango makes the muffin very moist. The blog where I got the recipe indicated that the recipe was developed from a banana muffin recipe. So, one could easily replace the mango puree with mashed banana. I kept some out for eating right now, and froze the rest to be eaten as needed. I guess I didn’t really free room in the freezer, but I think the muffins will be eaten quickly.

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.