Sunday, August 22, 2010

How sweet it is to be loved by you

 Birthday Cupcake Test
Since BabyT's 1st birthday is coming up next month, I had to find a cupcake recipe without dairy. And for a while we thought she might also be allergic to soy, but we've given her tofu a few times recently to test that and she tolerates it well with none of that telltale redness on her hands and mouth.

However, when I was looking for recipes, we thought she was allergic to both dairy and soy, so I found this simple recipe for Vegan Chocolate Cake. It works really well as cupcakes, and I added a teaspoon of cinnamon just to make it interesting.

I've made them twice now, and they come out great each time. The fascinating thing is that they don't have any dairy or eggs - they just use baking soda and vinegar for leavening.

Personally, I don't care for frosting. I like plain cake donuts, and I've asked frou-frou cupcake joints to give me unfrosted cupcakes. But some people think it's heresy to have an unfrosted cupcake so I figured I should research frosting recipes since other people besides BabyT and me are going to eat these birthday cupcakes.

Dairy-free frosting recipes are harder to find. A lot of them use Crisco, which is just gross, or lots of eggs. BabyT is ok with eggs so far, but I didn't want to overload her with a ton of egg whites since they're pretty allergenic. We haven't yet given her a whole egg, though she's definitely had things with egg in them.

So I was quite pleased to find this Vegan Chocolate Frosting recipe. BabyT and I made a trip to Whole Foods to buy the good dark chocolate (Scharffenberger) and grapeseed oil.

I can't recall if I've ever made frosting before. If I needed some, I used that nasty shelf-stable Betty Crocker stuff in a tub (shudder) or just made a simple powdered sugar glaze. The stuff I made today was *serious* frosting.

I melted the chocolate into the oil in the microwave instead of a saucepan, so that I could use the same glass bowl for freezing and whipping the mixture.

It turns out that I shouldn't have bought unsweetened chocolate, because it took a ton of the agave nectar plus some additional powdered sugar to make the frosting mix sweet enough (and I prefer things to be not that sweet!). Next time, I'll try the bittersweet or maybe even the semi-sweet.

I had a small hiccup at the whipping stage - when I froze the mix for 15 minutes and then used my hand mixer to beat it, it turned all gross and oily. I was very depressed (that was some expensive chocolate!) but figured I'd stick it back into the freezer for a while as per some of the comments on the recipe post.

Bingo! With about 40 minutes in the freezer, the mixture hardened, and then when I beat it, it turned into a gorgeous, fluffy light brown frosting. It was an amazing transformation.

For the first time in my life I used a pastry bag and made some small frosting "poofs". Clearly I need more practice to make these look like fancy cupcakes. Also, I realized that I couldn't just use a ziploc bag instead of the pastry bag. The ziploc split and the frosting oozed everywhere except through the tip. Sigh.

I frosted some using a spatula, and those looked fine, too, so that's probably what I'll do for BabyT's birthday cupcakes.  At Whole Foods, I bought some pink nonpareils, which are colored with beet juice.  I don't really get the idea behind "natural" junk food.  I mean, you're decorating a cake, which isn't exactly health food, so who cares if the tiny sprinkles are made from all natural ingredients or not?

So I think we have a winner here, both with the cupcakes and the frosting.  We're having two parties for her - one with her baby friends here in Seattle, and the family party in Tucson, so I'll get to make these cupcakes twice more.

Any tips on using the pastry bag?  I was trying to get an elegant swirly cone of frosting on top of the cupcakes but I'm not sure how to do that.  Mamas out there, what did you make for your baby's first birthday?


  1. My favorite for piping cupcake frosting is the Wilton 1M tip. I pipe the frosting in a spiral, starting from the outside edge of the cupcake and working my way in. I have some reusable piping bags, but if I'm feeling lazy, I also have disposable ones (sturdier than ziplocs). I buy some of my supplies at a local baking supply shop or Sur la Table, but Michael's is good for basics, too. My kiddos are all about the choc/choc combo (as is my husband). I'm the only one who prefers vanilla cake with my chocolate frosting. =)

  2. I get such great tips from you! Personally, I'm a frosting girl myself -- I've been known to lick the frosting off and throw away the cake which my husband thinks is a gross habit. This recipe looks fantastic!

    Did I ever share my CafePress shop with you? It's not as cool as genuine handmade stuff, but at least I made the pictures myself!

  3. ha ha ha! I didn't make anything for their first birthday. I went to a local bakery that does egg and dairy free cakes. They both chucked their cakes over the side, even with practice, so I didn't want to slave over them when I knew they wouldn't eat them!

  4. It looks like you need a smaller tip for your frosting. Do you have different tip sizes to play with?

    I'm planning to make lemon cupcakes. Still need to find and work on a recipe!

  5. @Di - Thanks for the tips! I'll have to find those disposable piping bags - as infrequently as I'd do this, it's probably worth it.

    @Lyndie - If you don't lick the cupcake, maybe we can arrange a deal re: cupcake/frosting eating :D And thanks for sending your shop - very pretty stuff!!

    @LauraC - so cool that you could get an egg and dairy free cake! How was it? Or did you get a normal one for the grownups?

    @divs - you're probably right about the tip. I only had two huge ones on hand that came with the bag. I think I have some plastic ones somewhere though. Maybe I'll try those next.

  6. Dear Anandi,

    Thanks for visiting my old blog, Great Expectations (via SM).

    I would give you my new blog, but I'm working on it (changed blogs several times, blah blah long story). My goal is to start a fitness/weight/life blog this week...ha let's see.

    Are you on the eastside? We live in Sammamish - I would love to get to know you better! My hubbie works for MS, and I've been a SAHM after my son was born 2 yrs ago.

    Oh, and as for cupcakes - dude chocolate ganache cupcakes ALL THE WAY...they aren't as pretty, but the taste is awesome. :-)


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