Tastes sinful, yet "cruelty-free!"
Isa Chandra Moskowitz is a goddess. I am a devoted omnivore, but the delicacies this woman constructs using only plant products woo my dairy-loving tastebuds.
I baked one dozen vegan cupcakes for an animal-product-free friend, but -erm- several "escaped" during delivery. Free-range cupcakes are a wiley breed.
Chocolate Cupcakes and Vanilla Frosting
(adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, 2006)
1 cup soymilk (Silk rocks)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/3 c canola
1 tsp vanilla extract (or bean paste!)
1/2 tsp almond extract, chocolate extract, or additional vanilla
1 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tin. Mix soymilk and vinegar; let sit a few minutes to curdle (this process yields cupcakes with a tender crumb). Whisk in sugar, canola, and extracts till foamy. In a separate bowl, sift remaining dry ingredients. Blend together dry and wet ingreadients until no large chunks remain. Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling no higher than 3/4 full. Bake 18-20 min, until a toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let sit 5-10 min; then turn out cakes onto cooling rack and bring to room temperature. Frost when cool.
1/2 c vegan nonhydrogenated buttery spread (EarthBalance rocks)
1/2 c vegan nonhydrogenated shortening (again, product placement: EarthBalance rocks)
3 1/2 c powdered sugar (any brand will do)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or paste
1/4 c plain soy milk or creamer (I actually use Silk creamer in either plain or vanilla. I find these yield richer frosting)
Cream spread and shortening, whisk in extract and milk, and then slowly fold in sugar. Whisk 5-7 min, until fluffy. If you are using a pastry bag to pipe frosting, let frosting come to room temp for smooth application, then return frosted cakes to fridge to allow frosting to set.
A note on pastry bags: in a moment of weakness, I bought a "mechanical pastry bag" ($20) at Williams-Sonoma. It promised more control when decorating with frostings. Instead, this cumbersome tool is no easier to maneuver than a traditional bag -- and is even less reliable when handling thicker frostings. This mechanical bag can't handle the pressure of thicker pastes and, rather than pushing frosting out the tip, forces the paste back up around the plunger. That sucks. Buy a pastry bag. They cost half as much and work twice as well. It's science.