Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sugar High Friday: Almond Cake with Raspberry Filling and Brown Butter Frosting

The August edition of Sugar High Friday was hosted by Elissa at 17 and Baking.

The theme for this month is Brown Butter.  I was very excited.  I've made this brown butter frosting several times now, and it's one of my favorites.  It's not as time consuming or potentially tricky as a buttercream, but way tastier than a traditional powdered sugar based frosting.  And it's a great conistency for piping decorations.  And the brown butter, with its slightly nutty taste, pairs very well with the almond cake.

I'll be hosting the October edition of Sugar High Friday's, so check back on October 1 to see what the theme is, and please consider submitting an entry.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Berries & Cream Cake

This would have made a great cake for the 4th of July.  But berries are still in season, and it'll taste just as good on the 4th of September, or the 21st of August; well, you get the idea.  As far as layer cakes go, this is on the lower end of the difficulty level - the filling and frosting are the same, and you can whip the cream in just a few minutes.  The white cream is a great backdrop for all sorts of berry decorations, so have fun!

Berries & Cream Cake

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

I've been a vegetarian for close to 20 years, and I always will be, but I'll probably never be vegan.  I usually eat 2 vegan meals a day, but I often have cheese with dinner, and it would be really hard to give up all my favorite baked goods... but being vegan is becoming easier and easier with vegan bakeries springing up all over the place.   It wasn't so long ago that no one could even pronounce the word vegan, now it's a regular part of the culture.

I've done a reasonable amount of vegan baking and sampling, and unfortunately, many vegan desserts taste vegan - that doesn't mean they're not yummy, but sometimes they just taste a little... different.  I don't think that's the case with these cupcakes though, especially if you eat the cake and frosting simultaneously.  Go ahead, invite your friends over and have a taste test!

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Martha Stewart - Makes about 20 cupcakes

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Spray muffin wells with baking spray, or line with muffin wrappers.

Whisk together the dry ingredients:  flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar

In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, espresso, and vanilla.  Add to the dry ingredients, and whisk until completely mixed.  Add the vinegar, and stir quickly:  the baking soda and vinegar will begin to react, and you'll see pale swirls throughout the batter.

Pour the batter into the muffin tins - each one should be about 1/2 full.  Bake for about 12-15 minutes.

Vegan Vanilla Frosting

1/2  cup vegan margarine, soft
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water or soy milk
food coloring, optional

Beat the margarine and shortening together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until very soft and smooth.  Beat in the vanilla (use clear vanilla if you want to keep the frosting pure white).  Add the sugar in 3 or 4 additions, beating well between each addition.  Beat in the water or soymilk.  The powdered sugar and water/milk measurements are flexible (and somewhat weather dependent) - add more powdered sugar if you want a stiffer frosting, and less if you want a creamier frosting.  You can also add water/milk to make the frosting softer and creamier.

Add a toothpick-full or more of gel food coloring if desired.

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