Chocolate Chip Mini Cupcakes

chocolate chip cupcakesIt seems that when I bake cupcakes they are always chocolate. It’s kind of the norm. So when I decided to make cupcakes this week, I went in search of a vanilla cupcake recipe. What I found was a recipe for cupcakes with chocolate chips and knew it would be perfect.

To adapt for high altitude I added milk and a little flour. I then reduced baking powder and oil. They were already vegan so that was simple, but I did add more chocolate chips and a drizzle so they wouldn’t seem too un-chocolatey. They weren’t the usual, but they were pretty good.

Chocolate Chip Mini Cupcakes adapted from Vegan Chocolate
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup + 2 tsp almond milk
1/2 cup + 1 TBS all purpose flour
1/2 cup + 1 TBS whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup + 1 tsp organic sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup less 1 tsp canola oil
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini vegan chocolate chips, divided
melted chocolate for decoration
Position a rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 350F. Line a mini cupcake tin with paper liners. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and milk. Set aside for 10 minutes to clabber. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to strainer. Stir with a whisk to sift ingredients into bowl. (If any small bits remain in strainer, add them to bowl.) Whisk to aerate the mixture. Whisk oil and vanilla into clabbered milk. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk until batter is smooth. Stir half the chocolate chips into batter.
Divide batter evenly between cups, filling each halfway full. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top of batter, dividing evenly between cups. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with a few crumbs. Cool tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Lift cupcakes onto rack to cool completely. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Refrigerate cupcakes in a covered container for up to two days. Makes 28-30 mini cupcakes.

Until next time, happy baking!

Vanilla Extracts – Are they all the same?

vanilla

Image courtesy of Kim at flickr.com

When I was gathering baking ingredients in the kitchen, my husband remarked on the vanilla extract. He noted the fancy bottle I had and told me that once, when he was young, his mother sent him to the store to get vanilla extract. He bought the largest bottle he could with the money he was given, and that suited his mother. I wanted to gag, but didn’t want to be seen as a vanilla snob. Well, maybe I am. You will find no cheap imitation varieties on my shelves. But, in the name of baking science, I thought I should explore vanilla extract further.

To start, there are many varieties of vanilla beans that are steeped in alcohol to yield the distinct vanilla extract flavor. Frontier, sold in many grocery stores, carries four varieties of the extract, each with subtle differences. There is Tahitian Vanilla with a “fruitier and more floral aroma.” There is also Indonesian Vanilla from “Indonesian vanilla beans (that) are processed in such a way that their intense flavor holds up to cooking well.” Then they offer Papua New Guinea Vanilla which “is extremely sweet, floral and delicately nuanced.” Another type is a versatile Uganda Vanilla that is sweet, rounded and full.” Okay, I did say the differences were subtle. To choose a variety may be a matter of taste and use.

The difference between Imitation vanilla and Pure vanilla is less subtle. Upon smelling Imitation vanilla I can immediately confirm I don’t want something tasting like that in my baked goods. Am I alone in this concept? Apparently not. The kitchn took to the task of asking baking experts if it was worth it to pay the price for pure vanilla. The conclusion was that you “get what you pay for — pure vanilla has much more depth of flavor.” One expert summed it up by responding to the question of when they insist on using pure vanilla extract: “Always! I’d rather use nothing, as the taste of artificial vanilla varies from insipid to nasty. Pure vanilla not only has a delicious taste of its own; it also enhances other flavors.”

I do suppose I am not a complete vanilla extract snob; I do not insist on making my own. (It might be laziness). If you decide to venture into the realm of making your own, check out Frontier Co-op’s recipe here. And please let me know how you did. I bow to your extra efforts taken in the name of baking your best.