Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And now for something completely different...

Picture it. November, 2009. A well-used kitchen with green walls, piles of dishes, and a faint aroma of something long-since burnt. Hard core kids are milling about, some sitting on couches, others standing with drinks in hand, chatting with each other on the bands who have and have not played. It's a cold night in Broad Ripple, and I'm there with my best friend to see a show featuring several of our friends.

On this night I did something a little different, though. I brought cupcakes. And not just any cupcakes. These little morsels were laced with Guinness and Bailey's. Totally prepared was I to unleash all that was holy and glorious about a cupcake whose ingredients had included both butter and beer. Bring on the praise!

Then I had an epiphany.

While I watched my several of my peers devour the cupcakes, a select number of them stood back, looking forlornly over at the counter where my confections were sitting. And then I realized my faux pas.

You see, along with an appetite for no-frills music, the hard core scene has a high number of straight edges and - more importantly - vegans. And I had neglected to include them in my considerations when putting together my recipe earlier that day.

So while the cupcakes were a success, I silently vowed to go back to the drawing board and add an entire menu full of vegan cupcakes to my arsenal.

Enter tonight's confection concoction: The Peanut Butter Vixens.

Peanut Butter Vixens

The Cupcake Base:

1 cup soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur brand)
2 tbsps cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (double if you use unsalted peanut butter)
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract (or just more vanilla)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F and line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. Whisk the soy milk an vinegar with a fork in a measuring cup and let it sit to get all good and curdled (I know it sounds gross, but trust me... you need to do this).
3. Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, use a handheld mixer at medium speed to cream the margarine and sugar for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy - DO NOT OVER BEAT. Beat in the vanilla and other extract, if using, then alternate beating in the soy milk mixture and dry ingredients, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
5. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with a spoon and spatula. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and they are bouncy in texture when you pat the tops (it's the "love pat" for cupcakes). Let stand on the counter for ten minutes, then transfer the cupcakes from the baking pan to a wire rack to complete total cool down before frosting. (At this point, I decided to shove a vegan chocolate truffle into the center of each cooled cupcake, just before frosting. You don't have to do this step, but it makes for a delightful little surprise when you bite into them!).

The Frosting:

1/4 cup margarine, room temperature
2 tbsps vegan shortening (Earth Balance sticks are my favorite for this)
1/3 cup creamy organic peanut butter
1 tbsp molasses (optional but highly recommended)
1 1/2 tspns vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1 to 2 tbsps rice milk, soy milk or soy creamer (I used vanilla soy milk for both the cupcakes and the frosting)
Chocolate Sprinkles

1. With an electric handheld mixer, cream together margarine and shortening at medium speed until smooth.
2. Add peanut butter, molasses, and vanilla, and beat until VERY smooth (two minutes at least).
3. Beat in sugar; mixture will be very stiff and dry. Dribble in soy milk a little at a time, beating on high and continuously until frosting is a pale tan color and super fluffy.
4. Put frosting into a zip lock back and leave open. Snip of the corner about a 1/4 inch, and pipe onto tops of cupcakes.
5. In a shallow bowl, put about a half cup of chocolate sprinkles into the dish. Take each frosted cupcake and "roll" in the sprinkles to cover the frosting.
6. Enjoy!

Monday, January 4, 2010

It's The Little Things...

Who ever thought tights would, dare I say it, rock my socks?

Just when I thought I'd never find happiness outside of a tempura-ed spider roll from Zen Sushi in San Diego, I come upon these: Fleece-lined footless tights. They are the softest things I've put my hands on in a while, plus they aren't bulky, thick or bunchy at all. The makers of these delicious cozies is called Plush - "Stay warm AND Stylish". Thanks, kids. I will do just that.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day 3 (and it feels so good)

I'm doing well. Feeling good. And I think I've only picked up my phone 12 times to NOT check my e-mail/troll Facebook/stalk friends. Only 12... I swear.

Waiting until I get home to check my e-mail has a certain "romanticism" to it - very You've Got Mail. Unfortunately for me, there were no e-mails from Tom Hanks. That would have been too good to be true.

So I'm loosely planning my menu for food this week. I've decided to make two things: a Giadi De Laurentiis creation (yet to be determined) and a red velvet cake. I'll be learning how to "crumb coat" a cake, which I think is perfect to try on the error-showing red velvet slabs of heaven. And then if I screw up the second coat, I'll just add a third. I'm an equal-opportunist.

I wonder what a layer of raspberry would taste like in the middle...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Time Apart

The phone is right next to my arm on the chair. Rarely outside of a three foot radius, my "space phone" seductively offers tantalizing apps for every possible need or time-wasting moment I have in my life. It's hard for me to think of a moment when I am not either checking up on Facebook, reading others' entries on Twitter, building a new word on Words With Friends, or opening my e-mail for the fifth time in an hour. And let's not get into how much I really do prefer to text over actually talking to a real human being. Imagine that.

So this Friday I've started something a little different. I've picked up a book (thank you Kelsey), am baking vegan cupcakes (thank you Bennett and Adri), and will spend time with the rest of the world. Maybe I'll take in a crossword puzzle or two.

My phone has only been used as a way to *gulp* call people, with one exception (Dad, we won't count that one text I sent you during the Rose Bowl Parade). I fully expected a slip and have now gotten it out of the way.

I'm taking a break from all things Facebook, Twitter, and the like. The laptop will be the only way I'll see if I have mail whatsoever (although most of it will be from Facebook, I'm sure).

Wish me luck, kids.