Soul Searching Twenty-Something Seeks Food Love: Settles For Food Like Most Days

Soul Searching Twenty-Something Seeks Food Love: Settles For Food Like Most Days

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Best Damn Chocolate Cupcakes Ever!

I had these two friends who would bake really creative cupcakes based on the signs of the zodiac.  They use foods that are reminiscent of zodiac archetypes or representative of particular signs as inspiration for their concoctions. 

I am a cancer (woot for June/July babies) which theoretically means that I am a nurturer, homebody, and damn good cook.  I was honestly a bit hurt when they didn't want me to help them design their cupcakes.  If anyone of the three of us knew food or baking, it was me.  Not that I'm an expert. . . just that I'm more of an expert.  But mostly, I felt excluded. 

The cancer cupcake was a peanut butter and bananas combination.  Not what I would have chosen to represent me, but I wasn't asked.  Ultimately, it's better that way, because none of the cupcakes that my friends have made have been vegan.

A Valentine's day party was upon them and the baking began.  I (perhaps, naively) suggested that they make a vegan cupcake so I could eat at the party.  I was told that there would be hummus, veggies, and chips; There would be enough vegan food available to me and they had enough baking to do already.

A quick aside:  These were two friends who would come to my house and enjoy vegan chik parm and tofu quiche when I was experimenting in the kitchen.  The friends who would tell me that my chik parm was better than the real thing.  Or that they never really liked quiche, but damn was that tasty.  And when I made a whole-grain crusted fruit pizza.  They were all pigging out.  But, for some reason, the suggestion of making one vegan recipe in their own home was too extreme.

I decided that day that I was going to make a vegan cupcake for my friend's birthday, which was coming up.  I was going to make a DAMN good cupcake at that.  And guess what. . .

I did.  Of course ;)

Since my vegan adventure, I'll become a frequent visitor of Oh She Glows and have given many of the recipes a try in the past few months.  The next few posts will probably all come from my adventure's with the recipes from this site.  I was lucky, because Angela who writes Oh She Glows, just happened to have the best chocolate cake recipe.  And it just happened to be eggless.  And it just so happens that soy milk is a staple in my house.  So is Earth Balance.  I didn't even need to go shopping, really.

I'm going to link directly to her page, here, because she has absolutely lovely presentation and photos, but if you're happy with my sad little kitchen and my sad little pictures, why leave Food-Like?  The recipe goes:


Yield: 12 cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used Vanilla Almond milk)
  • 1 cup sugar (I used natural cane sugar)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (or other oil)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract (optional, but awesome)
  • 1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted (I used Dutch-process)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
**quick note:  My thermometer makes a world of difference.  My oven runs hot, so without it, I would be making burnt, dry cupcakes.  I highly recommend everyone use a thermometer for their baking.**
With an electric mixer, beat together the following ingredients in a large bowl (non-dairy milk, oil, sugar, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, almond extract). Beat on medium speed for a minute or two.
2. Now sift in the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt). Mix well, until the clumps are gone.
3. Spoon the batter into prepared cupcake pan, about two thirds full for each. Bake for about 22 minutes at 350F, or until the cupcake slowly springs back when pressed with a finger. Allow to completely cool before frosting.

And the frosting. . . AMAZING! 


Yield: ~2 cups
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery stick or equivalent, room temperature
  • 3 cups icing sugar, sifted (I used organic)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract (may sub. other extracts)
  • 1.5-2 tbsp non-dairy milk, to achieve your desired consistency

1. In a mixing bowl, beat 1/2 cup of Earth Balance (or equivalent) with an electric mixer. Add in the milk, extract, and salt. Mix. Now gradually add in the sifted icing sugar, starting with 1 cup and mixing slowly until fully combined. I like to use my stand mixer when making frosting because I leave it mixing for about 5-10 minutes until nice and fluffy. Alternatively you can beat the frosting with a handheld mixer, for at least 4-5 minutes. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the frosting if you want to make the raspberry glaze (as shown).

To make the raspberry glaze, take the remaining frosting, and mash a handful of organic raspberries in a strainer over top, allowing the juice to strain through but holding back the seedy bits.  This wasn't specified on Oh She Glows and when I let the seedy bits in, it resulted in a massive backlog in my little round pastry tip.  THAT resulted in a crazy raspberry frosting explosion ALL OVER my kitchen table.  SO, my advice to you is STRAIN, STRAIN, STRAIN.

My other advice to you:  Try strawberries.  Try mint extract.  Try cocoa powder.  Try peanut butter.  Try Almond Butter.  Try Coffee. 

But, ultimately, TRY.  This is a definite MUST TRY AT HOME!

And, next time I'm feeling left out of the cupcake love, I'm baking these babies, bringing them places, and calling them the "June-baby" cupcake. . . because if a good home cook is represented by anything, it ought to be a DAMN GOOD chocolate cake   Even, a good vegan home cook.  Right?

Take one beautiful chocolate cupcake, pipe on buttercream, then drizzle with raspberry infused buttercream.  Top it with a fresh organic raspberry and bite into a little piece of heaven!

Maybe I'm not the world's best frosting piper (hey, it was my third time using a frosting tip, ever) and I'm definitely not the world's best photographer (props go to Ivy Darling, because she IS), but these were amazing cupcakes.

One step in the right direction.  Proving that VEGAN is TASTY and I don't have to actually give up anything (although these do have a side effect of sugar withdrawal. . . )

I want pictures.  I want feedback.  Share the Food-Love. if you make these.  Eating alone is like drinking alone.  It's lonely.  And I've been doing alot of it lately.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why Vegan?

Food-Like has evolved.  What had once began as a blog about preparing lamb sous vide and duck confit is now a blog full of vegetables and grains.  We've left the hedonist lifestyle of the rabid meat-eaters. . .   In fact, Food-Like has evolved to appreciate Food-Ethics, too.

Before I start all of the crazy recipe sharing,  I think it is probably more important to take a moment to explain.

I was meant to go to Italy for my honeymoon over the New Year transition.  It was my complete intention to surround myself in the aesthetic, drinking wine, eating piles of food, and savoring really old architecture and art.  Mother nature preferred to snow us in, close all the airports on the east coast, and put a damper on our plans.

So my husband and I hopped in a car and drove down to Washington, D.C, so that we could, at a minimum, stay in a hotel, eat like kings, and do SOMETHING out of the ordinary.  While we did see museum after museum, we focused on eating as much as possible in the best possible restaurants that we could get into at the last minute.  And it worked.

We enjoyed a sushi tasting menu with the freshest, most interesting selections I have ever had at Sushi Taro.  We chomped down on numerous cheese boards, the most enjoyable at Poste Modern Brasserie.  We felt at home in a little Majolica-like restaurant called Courdoroy, digging in on an amazing lamb sausage among many other things.  I enjoyed several beet salads (which top my list of food-loves of late), the best of which was at J & G Steakhouse.  And on our last night, we had awesome food at The Source (we even got an extra treat because of a kitchen mistake--love mistakes in our favor!)  I ate alone with my Kindle on New Year's Eve at Vidalia, while Mike was back at the hotel losing his tummy contents.

Weirdly, all of the food (although amazing) made me feel like a gross lump of lard.  It was about this same time that I read an interesting article on the health benefits of reducing meat consumption.  I decided, New Year and all, that the time was ripe for a bit of change. 

I would not reduce my meat consumption. 

I would remove it.

Let's face it. 

I was a vegetarian for a few years in high school.  But I wasn't.  I was a pescatarian.  I ate fish to appease my parents, who cooked for and fed me regularly.  Then, I quit eventually.

I was a real vegetarian for a few years in college.  But I was a full-time student and worked three jobs just to pay my rent and basic needs, which did not include diverse or particularly healthy foods.  Then I got really tired, lost all of my energy, and wound up in the hospital with a particularly severe case of mono.  So, on doctor's orders, I quit.

So maybe that's why I am so non-commital about BEING A VEGAN.  Truth be told, I really like cheese, and will cheat twice a month or so.  And once, these past few months, I got so fried out with my work and life that I proceeded to the nearest burger joint and ate a huge bacon cheeseburger.  Did I feel guilty?  Only a tad.  Did I feel like a big, greasy, gas bubble?  You bet your big, stinky ass, I did.

I am not going to preach.  I am not going to convert.  I'm just going to cook.  I'm still going to dig in on food wherever I can get it.  And I can be pleased with the fact that I'm doing an overall great thing for my body and my world, while not really missing out on much at all.

The only thing I ever miss is bacon.  Nothing smells like bacon.  But, hey, it's lent, so people all around me are giving up things they love.  It seems less weird now.

Tonight, Mike and I went out to a dinner gathering with friends.  They roasted a turkey, made instant mashed potatoes, velveeta shells, and betty crocker boxed cake.  It was actually an impressive spread. 

I packed a vegan alfredo with fresh spring vegetables and Quorn "chik" cutlets.  I had the pleasure of Mike (who still eats meat sometimes, allthough not at home) telling me that my dinner was far superior.  It was also made entirely from scratch, from identifiable ingredients without funny chemicals. 

And, ultimately, what is not to FOOD-LOVE about that.

Stay tuned and come back, because tomorrow I am sharing photos and recipes of my AWESOME vegan cupcakes (that I have promised to share for weeks).