Number 9: Baking Bonanza

In conjunction with my new resolution to cook more I decided to some new recipes. The first was vegan cupcakes.

A vegan (pronounced VEE-gun) is someone who, for various reasons, chooses to avoid using or consuming animal products. While vegetarians choose not to use flesh foods, vegans also avoid dairy and eggs, as well as fur, leather, wool, down, and cosmetics or chemical products tested on animals.

I have no plans to become a vegan – I think I would starve! But I wanted to test out vegan cupcakes, they have been featured on the show Cupcake Wars a few times and the judges love them.

The recipe (below) I used was from a cupcake a day desk calendar I had from 2011.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 tbsp Dutch- process cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

2 cups superfine sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 cups cold water

2 tsp white vinegar

2 tsp baking soda

1 cup (6oz) semisweet vegan chocolate chips

Cocoa powder for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375. Place 12 paper baking cups in a muffin pan. Sift the flour, cocoa salt and sugar into a large bowl and set aside.

In a separate large bowl, combine the applesauce water vinegar and baking soda. Add the flour mixture and stir well to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the mixture into the cups. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and cool for 5 minutes, Then remove the cupcake s and cool on a rack. Serve dusted with cocoa.

Before I put the cupcakes in the oven I tasted the batter and was not impressed. It was bland and I did not have high hopes for these cupcakes. The cupcakes turned out OK, they tasted more like bread with a slight hint of chocolate than a sweet cupcake. I did skip the vegan chocolate chips which may have helped. I really wasn’t sure where to get these (I’m sure whole foods would have had them) and I was being cheap. I had all the ingredients except for the applesauce in my pantry – which was really convenient.

Although the cupcakes tasted ok I would not make them for an event or a party, it would more of an emergency situation or if someone’s diet warranted it. In a cupcake taste test I am confident anyone would be able to pick out my vegan cupcake from a regular cupcake. I know there are several bakeries in St. Louis that offer vegan options, I would like to try their cupcakes to see if I can pick out any of the same flavors I tasted in mine.

The finished products!

On a different note I also decided to try making cake pops. Cake pops- basically cake on a stick are becoming a popular product. I mean if Starbucks sells them they gotta be cool right?

In order to find a recipe I Googled cake pops and found a ton of resources. Luckily there was a link that was basically cake pops for dummies, it detailed the steps and then included pictures. I am a visual person so the pictures were awesome. After reading the recipe I thought the steps looked pretty straight forward and the cake pop would be simple to make but would be time consuming. Well I was right about one thing – they were time consuming. Simple was not a word I used during my cake pop experience.

The first step is to bake a cake and let it cool. Then you crumble the cake into tiny bits, this part was fun and a little stress reliving. After you have your cake bits then you stir in a can of frosting, you take the mixture and roll it into balls and stick in the fridge.

In the meantime you melt some Wilton candy melts and get your sticks ready. Then you take the stick and put some of the candy melt on it and stick into the cake ball. This helps keeps the ball on the stick for the next step. Now comes the fun part (ha ha) you hold the stick and swirl the ball in the candy coating to fully coat the ball – at least that is what my directions said. When I tried this the cake ball fell off the stick and disintegrated into the melt. The melt was hot and the cake was cold – never a good combination. So I got out a spatula and dipped in the candy melt and covered the cake by holding the cake pop upright. This did get the job done but I had candy melt all over the place and it was more time consuming.

There were some casulaties during the candy melt process. Don’t worry this little guy did not go to waste – I needed a little snack to get me through the cake pop process!

The directions say once the melt is cooled then you can decorate your pop. I nixed the further decoration. I had used pink candy melt so they looked decorated enough. They were not the prettiest cake pops you have ever seen but I got a lot of complements on them which made it all worth it. I will not be adding these to my list of items to bring to a party – they might just be request only.

Now that I have done it once I kind of know what works and what doesn’t so I think the next time it would be a better process – but probably still just as time consuming.

Finished cake pops

One of the prettier ones.

Both baking experiences were items I had never tried to make and while I haven’t found a new favorite sweet treat to make it was fun working with new ingredients. The cleanup process – not so much fun. FYI candy melt dries quickly! I was scrapping mounds of pink candy melt off my counter for awhile.

Number 9 has been digested onto 8!!!


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