Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting

strawberry lemon cupcakes with raspberry frosting
strawberry lemon cupcakes with raspberry frosting

A friend’s birthday is coming up and I want to make a dessert that’s easy to share at a celebration. Cupcakes come to mind, but I need to bake some that are a little extra special. Fruity flavors are enjoyable in the summer, with strawberries and lemon reminding one of a cool drink, so they are perfect in my cupcakes. All these cupcakes need are a sumptuous fruity frosting to put them in the realm of ‘special enough for a birthday.’

I found a vegan cupcake recipe that included my combo of lemon and strawberry. To prepare at high altitude, I added extra liquid and flour while reducing the baking powder. I also used dry sweetener instead of wet to help keep the cupcakes light and fluffy. Next I switched to a deeply fruit-flavored frosting to embrace summery tastes. Tasters raved about the cupcakes noting how airy they were, and the mix of fruity flavors were a welcome surprise.

Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting adapted from One Green Planet and Food Network

for the cupcakes
1/2 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1.5 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup organic sugar
generous 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup pureed strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the frosting
6 tablespoons vegan butter, cold
2 tablespoons vegan shortening
3 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons soy milk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raspberry fruit spread

Preheat oven to 325 F and line muffin tins with 14 paper cups. Whisk soy milk and apple cider vinegar together in a bowl or container. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to curdle.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Place pureed strawberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add curdled milk and stir ingredients together. Add dry ingredients and stir just until the batter is smooth. Scoop batter into lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through cooking time. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out with a few tiny crumbs. Let the tins sit on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes to a wire rack to fully cool.

While the cupcakes are cooling, begin the frosting by beating the butter and shortening together in a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, beating after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add the fruit spread and beat until smooth. Put the frosting in a piping bag with a star tip and frost the cooled cupcakes.

Until next time, happy baking!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling

dark chocolate cupcakes with raspberry filling
dark chocolate cupcakes with raspberry filling

It’s a long holiday weekend in the U.S., and that calls for a special dessert. Special doesn’t mean complicated, but maybe more than a plate of cookies. That got me thinking … hmmm, cupcakes are still easy … but, FILLED cupcakes are easy and noteworthy. Now, to decide on the flavors … raspberry and chocolate are always a hit. Armed with my choices, I came up with a delicious dark chocolate cupcake and then an easy-but-tasty raspberry frosting.

Admittedly, I had a lot of changes to make. To veganize the cupcakes, I made buttermilk from soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Then I replaced the butter with canola oil, and the eggs with aquafaba. For high altitude, I reduced the total amount of leaveners and increased the flour. The frosting was easier, as I swapped out dairy items with their non-dairy counterparts. Although I may not have needed to make the frosting. As fantastic as these were filled, my hubby loved them without frosting. That’s okay; more raspberry frosting for me!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling adapted from Food & Wine and Food Network

for the cupcakes
1/2 cup soy milk
1.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/8 cup natural cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup canola oil
3 TBS aquafaba
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 TBS all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup vegan granulated sugar
for the filling / frosting
6 TBS cold vegan butter
2 TBS vegan shortening
3 cups vegan powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp non-dairy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 heaping TBS raspberry fruit spread

Preheat oven to 350F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a standard muffin tin with paper cups and set aside. Place soy milk in a jar and add the apple cider vinegar. Place the lid on the jar and shake gently to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes to curdle.

Put cocoa powder in a large heatproof bowl. Add boiling water and whisk until a smooth paste forms. Whisk in curdled milk, oil, aquafaba, and 3/4 tsp vanilla until combined. In a medium bowl, sift flour with baking soda, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir to combine.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups until they are half full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with just a few crumbs. Let cupcakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the vegan butter and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with the non-dairy milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla, until it is smooth and creamy. Add the raspberry fruit spread and beat until creamy.

Spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Holding a cupcake in your hand, plunge the tip into the top of the cake, pushing it halfway in. Gently squeeze the pastry bag to fill the cupcake, withdrawing it slowly as you squeeze. Repeat until all cupcakes are filled. Use the remaining filling to pipe tiny rosettes on the tops of the cupcakes. Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes for Mother’s Day

mini chocolate mousse cakes
mini chocolate mousse cakes

Mother’s Day requires a special dessert. The idea is that if you slave away all day at the oven, then you prove that you care. But all you really need is a treat that is decadent and delicious. These Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes are all that, and more. They are fairly easy to make, too. The hardest part for me was cutting the parchment circles to fit the mini pans. (I am not very adept with scissors).

My search for a decadent Mother’s Day treat provided a recipe that made a 7-inch cake. Not having a pan that size, I decided to change it up to make mini cakes. I liked that idea because they can be served individually so Mom can get a fancy one made just for her. The recipe was vegan and no-bake, so I didn’t have to make those changes. I did make alterations to ensure the mini cakes would be firm. The result was the cutest mousse cakes that were deemed so delicious that they should be made on more than just special occasions.

Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes adapted from Vegan Chocolate Mousse Cake

Cookie Crust
14 vanilla cream filled chocolate wafer cookies (such as Oreos)
4 TBS vegan margarine or butter
Mousse Filling
11 ounces dark chocolate, 65% or higher
12.3 ounces silken tofu, drained but not pressed
10.6 ounces vegan greek style yogurt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 TBS powdered sugar
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
4 TBS maple syrup
Garnishes
fresh raspberries
powdered sugar

For the crust: Cut parchment paper to line the bottom and sides of 8 mini cheesecake tins with removable bases. Set aside. Add cookies and vegan margarine or butter to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is like moist sand, up to 1 minute. Remove 1/2 cup of the cookie mixture and set aside. Press the remaining mixture into the bottoms of the 8 mini tins. Tamp the mixture down with the bottom of a small glass to compact it. Place the tins in the fridge.

For the filling: Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Set aside briefly to cool slightly. Place the tofu, yogurt, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and maple syrup in a high speed blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, creamy, and slightly warm. (The heat will help the melted chocolate to blend in smoothly). Add the melted chocolate and blend again until the mixture is very smooth. Remove the tins from the fridge and pour the filling into them. Bang the tins on the counter to flatten out the tops of the mousse. Return the tins to the fridge for 4-5 hours, or overnight, to firm up. Once set, remove the cakes from the tins and remove the parchment paper.

To plate: Place each cake on an individual plate and place a raspberry on top. Sprinkle some of the remaining crust crumbs over the top and dust the cake with powdered sugar. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Until next time, happy non-baking and Happy Mother’s Day!

Custom Muffins with Glazes

custom muffins with custom glazes
custom muffins with custom glazes

I ran across a recipe for a customizable muffin and it intrigued me. The concept was to have a “base” that you can vary any way you like. Berries could be stirred in, or nuts, or chocolate chips, or candies … you get the idea. It seemed like a fantastic way to make multiple flavors at one time without baking dozens of muffins at once. You could make a variety pack for yourself, or have several flavors to give as treats. I wanted to so something special for my neighbors, so I decided that four different muffins might put smiles on their faces. And, since I can’t leave well enough alone, I opted to make a different flavored glaze for each muffin flavor.

To veganize the recipe, I curdled cashew milk as a stand-in for buttermilk. In place of regular unsalted butter, I used Flora unsalted plant butter. Lastly, aquafaba was my egg substitute. To account for high altitude, I reduced the amount of baking powder and the oven temperature. Despite all of these changes to the original recipe, the muffins turned out tall and beautiful. My neighbors said they were great, and I enjoyed the diversity of the ones I saved for me.

Custom Muffins with Glazes adapted from Ultimate Muffins

4 TBS unsalted vegan butter (like Flora plant butter)
1 cup + 1 tsp non-dairy milk
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
2 cups all purpose flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup vegan sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 TBS aquafaba
1 tsp vanilla extract
Custom mix-ins:
blueberries, fresh or frozen, drained if needed; 4 – 6 per muffin
chopped berries, fresh or frozen, drained if needed; 4 – 6 pieces per muffin
chocolate chips, regular or minis; 2-3 TBS
Custom glazes:
3 TBS powdered sugar, sifted
up to 1 tsp non-dairy milk
flavored extracts (such as vanilla, coffee, chocolate, lemon, orange)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper cups and spray the cups with nonstick cooking spray. Melt vegan butter in a small saucepan and set aside to cool. Place non-dairy milk in a jar and add the apple cider vinegar. Place the lid on the jar and shake gently to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes to curdle.

Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the sugars and whisk to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, curdled milk, aquafaba, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined. Remove 1/2 cup of batter to a bowl. Scoop the remaining batter into separate bowls, one per flavor. (I made 4 flavors, 3 muffins each, so I scooped 1/4 of the remaining batter each into its own bowl). Add the mix-ins, one flavor per bowl, and fold in gently. (I added 18 small blueberries to one bowl of batter, 12 bits of chopped cherries to one bowl, 15 bits of chopped raspberries to one bowl, and 2 TBS of mini chocolate chips to the last bowl).

Divide the 1/2 cup of reserved plain batter between the 12 muffin cups, as a layer on the bottom of the muffin cup. (This keeps the mix-ins from sinking to the bottom of the muffin). Next, fill the muffin cups 2/3 full with the flavored batters, one flavor per muffin cup. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the muffin tin halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. Move the tin to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled slightly, tip the muffins out onto the rack to finish cooling.

baked custom muffins, 4 flavors
baked custom muffins, 4 flavors

While the muffins cool, make the glazes. Add the powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp nondairy milk to a bowl. Add more milk, one drop at a time, as needed to dissolve the powdered sugar without making it too runny. Divide the glaze base into individual bowls to make separate flavors. I added vanilla and coffee extracts to put on my chocolate chip muffins, vanilla extract only for the raspberry muffins, chocolate and vanilla extracts for the cherry muffins, and lemon extract with a sprinkle of lemon zest for the blueberry muffins). When the muffins have cooled, drizzle the glazes over the tops of the muffins.

Until next time, happy baking!

Pear-Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Pear Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Pear Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Before I went through pastry school, I had never made a tart. I don’t know why but tarts never got my attention. Then, part of my training was to make everything and, in doing so, I discovered something. I love making tarts! The art of pressing the crust ingredients into a shell can be very meditative. There is also the flexibility of making the crust raw or baked. And don’t get me started on fillings or toppings — there are so many to choose from!

For this recipe I began with a vanilla pastry cream filling. Then I chose to roast pears to put on top, as I had pears that needed to get eaten. Next I opted for a raw crust that began as a basic recipe but then got a bit crazy with the inclusion of some Kibo chickpea chips. (It was a creative dare, and they worked beautifully.) I threw in a bit of raspberry jam and fresh raspberries and my creation turned heavenly, although hubby said it needed some chocolate. He can be predictable.

Pear-Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream
(This recipe is separated into components as any or all of the parts may be made ahead and the tart assembled later.)

Vanilla Pastry Cream adapted from Rouxbe Online Culinary School
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3-4 hours to soften
3 ounces unsweetened almond milk
1 ounce agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
Place cashews, milk, agave, vanilla, and salt in a high speed blender. Process on high until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the jar as needed. Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the tarts. (There will be extra, but it keeps in the refrigerator for a week.)

Tart Crusts
1 mini bag Kibo Himalayan Salt Chickpea Chips
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup finely chopped dates
1/2 tsp water, as needed
Lightly spray four mini tart pans with vegetable oil spray. Set aside. Place the chickpea chips into a food processor and process into a coarse meal. Pour the meal out into a bowl. (You will only need 1/8 cup of this meal). Put the walnuts and almonds into the food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Put 1/8 cup chickpea chip meal into the food processor. Add the dates a spoonful at a time, pulsing between additions, until the dates are incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. Add the water, a little at a time, and pulse until the mixture just holds together when pressed with your fingers. If the mixture seems a bit too dry, add another date. If the mixture seems a bit too wet, add a few more nuts. Spread the mixture among the prepared tart pans. Press the mixture thinly, firmly, and evenly onto the sides and bottom of the pans. (You can use a small glass or measuring cup to press down with). Put the pans in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the tarts.

Roasted Pears
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 pear, sliced thin
Preheat the oven to 375F. Mix the maple syrup and balsamic in a bowl. Add the pear slices and toss to coat. Pour the pears along with the liquid into a baking pan, arranging in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Set on a wire rack to cool completely. Use immediately to assemble the tarts, or store in the refrigerator for up to several days.

ready for tart assembly
ready for tart assembly

To Assemble Tarts
4 mini tart crusts still in their pans
3-4 TBS seedless raspberry jam
Vanilla pastry cream
Roasted pear slices
12 fresh raspberries
For each tart, spread a thin layer of jam over the bottom of the crust. Spoon the pastry cream on top of the jam almost to the height of the crust. Lay several pear slices and a few fresh berries over the pastry cream. To serve, carefully remove the tart from the tart pan. For tips on how to remove a tart from a pan with a removable bottom, see this article.

Until next time, happy baking!

Raspberry Chocolate Amy’s Cake

raspberry chocolate cake amysEvery once in a while I don’t really feel like baking. I want a decadent dessert that has my personal touch without my actually taking the effort to bake. So, what do I do? Semi-homemade to the rescue!

I don’t normally endorse any particular brands, but Amy’s Kitchen makes a frozen Chocolate Cake that is vegan (and gluten free). With a few ingredients that I usually have on hand, I can transform the cake into a Decadent Vegan Baker original without any high altitude fuss. I have brought this creation to parties and fooled everyone into thinking that I slaved all day in the kitchen.

Raspberry Chocolate Amy’s Cake
1 Amy’s Organic Chocolate Cake, defrosted
2 TBS seedless raspberry jam
3 oz dark chocolate
8-10 fresh raspberries
Take the defrosted cake out of the packaging and slice in half horizontally. Spread jam over the bottom half of the cake and top with the top half, like a jelly sandwich. Melt chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler. Pour the melted chocolate over the cake sandwich. Top with fresh raspberries.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Spicy Raspberry Chocolate Cups

raspberry spice chocolatesMy husband said, “bring on the chocolate,” so I did. I decided to make chocolates, which sounds scarier than it actually is. If you have the right equipment, making chocolate candies is as easy as melt-and-pour. The hard part is picking a flavor combination.

This is a no-bake vegan recipe, great for a hot summer’s day. It’s simple to do if you have the proper equipment: a silicon mold so you need not fuss with chocolate tempering, a silicon brush for the cleanest way to coat a mold, and a double boiler (or a small pot and a metal bowl that is large enough so its bottom doesn’t touch the water when it sits on top of the pot).

For this decadent and elegant dessert I chose chocolate cups filled with raspberry and a hint of chipotle. Raspberry is fantastic paired with the notes of dark chocolate, and adding the chili gives the taste buds a slight zing.

Spicy Raspberry Chocolate Cups inspired by Lazy Cat Kitchen
5 oz. dark chocolate
1 oz. seedless raspberry jam
chipotle powder, to taste
Boil a pot of water on the stove, then lower the heat to medium. Place the chocolate in the top of the double boiler and put it over the water. When the chocolate is melted, pull it off the heat making sure you get no water in the chocolate. Dip a silicon brush in the melted chocolate and fill in the mold cavities halfway, including up the sides. Put mold in the freezer for 20 minutes to set.
Remove mold from the freezer and place a teaspoon of jam into each cavity. Heat a pot of water to boiling, again. Re-melt the chocolate in the top of the double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in chipotle powder. Let the chocolate cool but not completely – you want it to be pourable. Pour the chocolate over the raspberry jam to fill each mold. Do not over- or under-fill the molds or it will be difficult to remove the candies. Put the mold in the freezer for 20 minutes more. Remove from freezer and carefully pop candy out of molds. Makes 6 chocolates.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Hearty Raspberry Muffins

hearty raspberry muffinsWaking up to a cold morning made me want a warm, hearty muffin to chase away the chill. I thought a bright burst of fruit, with some healthy bran, ought to do the trick. Looking through my cookbooks I discovered that I didn’t quite have the exact ingredients for anything that sounded good, so I baked some muffins loosely adapted on a few recipes. It’s kinda what I do.

The recipe was already dairy and egg free, so I just made a few adjustments for altitude. The recipe was simple so it only needed a little extra flour and milk and a slight reduction in leaveners. I also used paper muffin cups instead of baking directly in the muffin tin so I wouldn’t have to scrape any dried muffins off the tin.

Hearty Raspberry Muffins adapted with what was in my cupboard from “Sweet & Natural Baking” by Mani Niall
1 1/4 cups + 1 tsp whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
scant 1/2 tsp baking soda
scant 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 cup + 1/2 tsp almond milk
1/3 cup liquid fruit juice concentrate
3 TBS canola oil
1 cup frozen raspberries, slightly broken up
Preheat oven to 350F and line a muffin tin with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, bran, baking soda, baking powder and salt to combine and make a well in the center. In another medium bowl, whisk milk, fruit juice concentrate, and oil until surface is bubbly. Pour liquid ingredients into the well and stir just until smooth. Stir in the raspberries.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 11-12 muffins.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Mousse Pie with Cookie Crust and Raspberry Coulis

Chocolate mousse piePosting on Mother’s Day meant I had to do something special, something a bit fancy. Chocolate mousse came to mind but this is a baking blog and mousse isn’t baked. So, I decided to bake a chocolate cookie crust as a vehicle for my tasty chocolate mousse.

Besides a crunchy pie crust, I added a bit of glamour by making a raspberry drizzle (also known as “coulis”). The sauce adds bright color and flavor, is amazingly easy, and the leftovers are great on waffles. It rounds out this simple and fun dessert.

Chocolate Mousse Pie with Cookie Crust and Raspberry Coulis adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
chocolate cookie crust
1 cup crumbled chocolate cookies (crushed in a food processor)
1/4 cup vegan margarine, melted
chocolate mousse
1 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or substitute coffee extract for a deeper chocolate taste)
12 oz silken tofu, drained (soft or firm, the choice will affect the texture)
raspberry sauce
6 oz frozen raspberries, thawed
2 TBS vegan sugar
For Chocolate Cookie Crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil a 9″ pie plate. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs and melted butter until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of the pie plate and slightly up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes. When done, cool on a wire rack.
For Chocolate Mousse: Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler by placing the chips in a small saucepan. Set this pan in a larger pot filled with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water. Heat over medium heat on the stove and stir the chips until they are melted.
Place the milk, extract and tofu into a blender. Process until almost fully smooth. Scrape down the sides and add the melted chocolate. Process until completely smooth.
For Raspberry Sauce: In a blender, thoroughly blend the raspberries and sugar. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer to remove seeds. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
To Assemble the Pie: Pour the mousse into the fully-cooled pie crust. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. To serve, garnish with a drizzle of raspberry sauce. You can also add fresh fruit, chocolate shavings and whipped cream.

Happy Mother’s Day, and happy baking!