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Entries in Cupcakes (7)

Friday
Aug302013

Vanilla Poppy Seed Beet Cakes

Beets are my new secret ingredient. Lots of people say their secret ingredient is love. Well, mine is beets. I love beets, so I suppose it amounts to the same thing? Maybe?

I had my first beet dessert success with these gluten-free chocolate cupcakes, Rinny's Race Cakes. They were so good, people kept requesting I make them over and over again. The beets keep the cake moist. Super moist. Like so moist, I've stored them in my freezer for weeks (probably longer than I should) and they are still moist. Can you beet that? 

All puns aside, I wanted to make a vanilla version. I'm a chocolate girl, but John, he likes vanilla. But before you go calling vanilla boring, these cakes are anything but. Using golden beets, you can lock in that same cake moisture, while poppy seeds and salted pistachios give them a nice texture contrast. The salt from the pistachios also creates a nice contrast with the sweet coconut cream. The result is a true masterpiece. Great for breakfast, brunch, snacks and, well....pretty much all the time. Which is when I've been eating them anyway.

What You Need:

For the Cake:

1-½ cups almond meal

1 cup brown rice flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1-1/2 cups turbinado sugar or coconut sugar

4 small golden beets, roasted

3 eggs

½ cup almond milk

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Colavita)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1/2 cup salted pistachios, coarsely chopped

For the Frosting:

See my Coconut Cream recipe here.

Process:

First, roast the golden beets:

Preheat your oven to 400°F degrees.

Slice the beets in half and wrap them in aluminum foil.

Place the wrapped beets in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft when pierced through the center with a knife.

Remove the beets from the oven, allow to cool and then peel the skins off. Chop them into cubes.

Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees.

Place the cooled, chopped beets in a blender with the almond milk and puree until very smooth - so smooth you could drink it.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, brown rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, turbinado sugar and poppy seeds. Mix all these dry ingredients together.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, olive oil and vanilla extract.

Add the puréed beets to the egg mixture and mix to combine. Pour the wet beet mixture into the mixing bowl with all of the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Prepare a cupcake tin by lining with cupcake paper or greasing with non-stick baking spray.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan (I used a mini bundt cake pan) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool.

Top them!

Drizzle some coconut cream frosting onto the tops of the cakes and sprinkle with the chopped pecans.

If you're not eating these right away (GASP!), you can store them (unfrosted) in the freezer, covered for 2 weeks.

Thursday
Jun272013

Rinny's Race Cakes

Recently, I had the great good fortune to meet two pro triathletes: Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O'Donnell. 

Chelsea Piers hosted a Q & A event with the tri-sport stars and "Rinny" and "TO" good-naturedly indulged us while we peppered them with ridiculous questions like,

"How do you stay motivated?" and, "What do you eat before a race?"

To this last question, Mirinda admitted that she eats cupcakes before her races. Cupcakes. With icing. Specifically, she liked Whole Foods' gluten-free cupcakes. She mentioned something about them being a perfect amount of calories and sugar — topping off what was hopefully a nutrient-rich diet the previous day.

Here I am eating oatmeal before I race, like a sucker, and Mirinda is chowing down on cupcakes. Later on, I questioned her privately, "You really eat cupcakes before a race?" 

"She has a food blog, she might write about this!" a bystander cautioned Mirinda before she could answer.

At this, Tim piped up and said I should make them for the blog and call them "Rinny's Racecakes".

And so, I have. All the credit goes to Rinny for the idea and TO for the name.

Now, these cakes are a little different. They are gluten-free, but they're made with beets which keeps them extra moist, and some say the Nitric Oxide in beets translates to better athletic performance...I'll try anything.

The sea salt topping is for extra electrolytes, which can't hurt on those hot summer race days.

Finally, how to get them to a race. If you're lucky enough to be eating at home beforehand, then you don't have this problem. But if you need to take your breakfast with you, you need to accomplish two things: 

1. Minimize frosting mess.

2. Prevents cupcake squish (a real phenomenon.

To solve the first problem, I sliced the cupcakes in half and frosted them sandwich style. Easy!

For issue the second, I converted a simple bottle of Smart Water into a cupcake tote. Instructions follow!

What You Need:

For the Cake:

1-1/2 cups almond meal

½ cup brown rice flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1-1/2 cups turbinado sugar

2/3 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder

4 small red beets, roasted

3 eggs

½ cup almond milk

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Colavita)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

1-2 tablespoons of water

1 8oz package of vegan cream cheese (I used Daiya - I swear it's good)

2 1/2 tablespoons of PB2 peanut butter powder (I used the chocolate flavor)

2-3 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar (depending on your need to sweetness

For the Top:

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Process:

First, deal with the beets. I admit to being lazy and bought mine pre-roated. I've got a lot on my mind pre-race and I don't really want to bother with roasting things, whatever they are. However, if you'd like to roast, here's how to do it:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the beets in half and wrap them in aluminum foil.

Place the wrapped beets in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft when pierced through the center with a knife.

Remove the beets from the oven, allow to cool and then peel the skins off. Chop them into cubes.

Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees.

Place the cooled, chopped beets in a blender with the almond milk and puree until very smooth - so smooth you could drink it.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, brown rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cacao powder and turbinado sugar. Mix all dry ingredients together.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, olive oil and vanilla extract.

Add the pureed beets to the egg mixture and mix to combine. Pour the wet beet mixture into the mixing bowl with all of the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Prepare a cupcake tin by lining with cupcake paper or greasing with non-stick baking spray.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool.

In the meantime, prepare the frosting:

Place the cream cheese, peanut butter powder, water and sugar in a medium bowl. With a hand-held mixer, beat until smooth. It's best to add just a little water at a time, so the mixture doesn't get runny. It should be the consistency of frosting.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, slice them in half cross-wise with a sharp knife and sandwich in some frosting on the bottom half. Place the top back on and garnish the top with the pink Himalayan sea salt (extra electrolytes!).

How to make the water bottle carrier:

What You Need:

1 bottle of Smart Water (drink the water first, you'll need to be hydrated anyway if you're racing)

1 exacto knife

Parchment paper for lining in between the cupcakes

What to Do:

With the exacto, slice the bottle of water around the middle so you have two same-sized pieces. 

On the top half, make a small vertical cut, like the tails of a suit jacket. This will allow you to fit the top half into the bottom half.

Place a finished cupcake in the bottom half of the bottle. 

Place a piece of parchment on top of the cupcake.

Keep stacking cupcakes and parchment alternately until it seems unwise to continue.

Secure the top half of the bottle over the bottom. 

Race breakky to go!

On a side note, Tim was kind enough to write this message on his photo for The Box. I used it as a Father's Day card:

Monday
Jul302012

Cupcakes from Sweetooth, The Ultimate Recovery Snack

The other week, I travelled up to Yorktown Heights for a ride with my teammates and friends Caitlin and Sarah.

We rode a 45 mile course, taking it a bit easy as we were still recovering from a big race. The ride was beautiful, we passed through such towns as Bedford where Martha Stewart keeps a small cottage....

I thought if Martha knew we were waiting outside, she would invite us in and offer us some tea and scones. ALAS! It was not to be. I was a little downtrodden at first, but Caitlin suggested that we instead visit Sweetooth, a cupcake bakery in Katonah

Katonah, New York is a pretty cute town. And Sweetooth is intensely so.

The interior is decorated in a color palette of hot pinks and browns with a gleaming white counter top showcasing the cupcake goodies.

I chose the S'mores cupcake (shown above). Its nicely coiffed icing was perfectly toasted in a handsome replica of a campfire marshmallow.

I purchased two: one to eat immediately, and one to take home and photograph with my fancy camera.

Biting into the cupcake unleashed a plethora of pleasant surprises. First, the dark chocolate cake was wonderfully moist (a MUST in my mind). And just as soon as I registered moist cake, I was equally thrilled to realize I had just unearthed a treasure-trove of s'more ingredients, as the inside was filled with graham cracker crumbs and a deep chocolate ganache.

All of this was surmounted by the afore-mentioned toasted marshmallow frosting which proved to be very light and...well...fluffy.... like a marshmallow, but with non of that sickly sweetness. It was actually quite airy like whipped egg whites with just a touch of sweetness.

I was very impressed with my recovery meal, and immediately felt I could bike another 45 miles. However, a much more challenging task awaited me – that of getting the uneaten cupcake back to the car, which meant riding my bike, cupcake in hand, for about a half a mile.

I placed the cupcake gently and (what I thought was) securely inside a screaming pink box. Then, I attempted a slooooow ride to the car. This is what happened:

I am happy to report that this little guy tasted just as good as it's brother even though he looked quite a mess.

I need a cupcake attachment for my bike.

Sweetooth
43 Katonah Avenue
Katonah, NY 10536
(914) 232-7700

And this is a map of our ride:

 

Wednesday
Apr132011

Tell Him About The Twinkie



I may have mentioned this before, but possibly my favorite movie of all time is Ghostbusters. John and I used to quote this movie to each other quite frequently. We still do from time to time. I recently watched it and was comforted to know that this 80's movie stands the test of time. It's still funny (Art Deco, very nice), and Bill Murray is....well, he's just a genius.

And speaking of things that stand the test of time, how about a Twinkie? According to the Hostess website, Twinkies have been been hanging around on bodega shelves since 1930 (some of them quite literally). President Clinton even put one in a time capsule. I wonder what that one looks like now...

Dan Akyroyd and Harold Ramis (stars and writers of the film) were not immune to the immense power and omnipotence of the Twinkie. They worked it in to one of the best scenes in the film as seen below:


And now I'm going to tell you about a Twinkie. One that I found at Lulu Cafe in Chelsea. I had gone to Lulu in search of Intelligentsia coffee which they brew in their 8th Avenue shop. I found a whole lot more including some homemade Twinkies in different flavors.

At first I was intrigued by the sign (who wouldn't be?):



And then the flavors! They offered:

Red Velvet Lulus
red velvet snack cakes filled with cream cheese frosting dipped in white chocolate

Lemon Lulus
lemon snack cakes filled with lemon curd, dipped in white chocolate

Brooklyn Blackout Lulus
chocolate snack cakes filled with dark chocolate pudding dipped in chocolate

Passionfruit Lulus
yellow snack cakes filled with passion fruit cream, dipped in white chocolate



I decided on the passionfruit variety and was not disappointed. The cake was moist and dense. In my opinion, real Twinkie cake is a bit insubstantial. I want CAKE. And by that I mean a mixture that is a touch hearty. This one was. And the passionfruit filling was a nice contrast: light, airy with a hint of that fruity flavor piped expertly through the center of the vanilla cake.

A few shavings of coconut graced the top along with a glaze of white chocolate to give the whole thing a graceful "petite-four" flair. I loved it.



So when your spirit storage facility is at capacity and your collection of spores, molds and fungus is getting a little out of hand, don't panic (and DON'T cross the streams!). Just:



And then call Ghostbusters

.

Wednesday
Mar092011

Cannoli in Motion - Food and Art Collide on the Path Train



John and I are as choosy with our Italian desserts as we are with our entreés (like pizza). I happen to be a tiramisú snob, and have turned up my nose at quite a few slices, while John will down well-made panna cotta like an Electrolux that's just had its filter cleaned.

But the cannoli....Ahh...the cannoli. A perfect cannoli is a study in contradictions, a perfect blend of opposites in flavor and texture. As the holding device, the shell represents a challenge: It must be crispy and ever-so-slightly sweet. NEVER chewy or dense. With lots of airy holes for extra crunch.

The cream presents another challenge. First, it has to be ricotta cream. I know....I know, you may be thinking, "Who would fill cannoli with anything else?" If you asked that question, you're hired!

You might be surprised to learn how many whipped cream filled cannoli I have encountered. And put down after the first bite, because that's just wrong, people. WRONG.

Assuming that the filling is ricotta based, it should also be rich, thick in consistency and have a definite sweetness that is not overpowering. Light and airy are not characteristics of the filling – those belong to the shell.

Now a final word of caution: NO PRE-FILLING the cannoli shells. If you walk into a bakery and there are a stack of filled cannoli in the glass display case, don't order them. They could have been sitting there since the Dharma Project's last food drop.

The shells should be lined up, empty awaiting your order. Then, and only then, do they get their ricotta cream piped into them. This is because cannoli filling will make the super crispy and light shell a soggy, dense mess. True story.

As for toppings or additions to the cream filling, these are traditional and definitely allowed. I'm not a huge fan of succade, or chopped, candied citrus peel, I find that they don't add much in terms of flavor and are just interruptions in the cream filling. Like speed bumps. I do, however approve of mini chocolate chips, either integrated into the cream or sprinkled on top. These do add flavor, and because they are firm, but not crunchy, an extra layer of texture. Pistachios often make an appearance, as does a nice dark chocolate dip. However, prepping the chocolate dipped varieties usually means pre-filling, so I'm not the biggest fan of this option.

OK, I think I'm done with my pastry-related tirade. Are you still here? I hope so, because Rocco's cannoli are definitely worth the trip. To the West Village. In the pouring rain. And John doesn't walk very quickly. So, if you're going with him, you should know that.

Rocco's has a lot of other treats that we didn't sample. We went straight for the cannoli. But you might like to try some of these:





They sure looked tasty.

After navigating the somewhat confusing line (it seems that people just queue up in no particular order, and there's no number system), we noticed the empty cannoli shells lined up in the back awaiting their creamy centers – a very good sign. We ordered 2, and got them to go.



Probably we should have enjoyed them at on of Rocco's cafe tables. Instead, we ventured out into the pouring rain (did I mention that John walks slowly?) and to the PATH train to head back to Hoboken.

Both John and I are very impatient when it comes to food. We want to eat it NOW. Whatever it is. Now works. The train unfortunately arrived immediately, even as I was unwinding the intricately-laced bakers twine on the box.

John: "I have never wanted the train to NOT arrive before...." This said as I reluctantly returned the white box to its plastic bag.

Once on the train, all bets were off. Especially the ones saying "No Eating or Drinking on Path Trains". John dove into his cannoli as I attempted to take photos of them on the moving train. Please keep in mind that we are professionals. You shouldn't try this at home. Or anywhere.



I held off on eating mine as I wanted to take a nice glamor shot of it once back at my apartment (see the first photo for evidence of self-restraint). But I was curious, so I asked John some questions.

Me: "How is it?"

John: "Great." (You might not think it, but this is actually very high praise from John).

Me: "Ummm...Could you give me more details? How's the filling?"

John: "Awesome, man."

I see.

Once I could sample mine in the comfort and stability of my non-moving apartment, I could tell that John was correct. It was a great cannoli. The shell was fried to perfection, and I detected a hint of cinnamon in the mix that added a subtle flavor. The cream was indeed awesome: a ricotta cream with very tiny and sparingly applied succade and topped with mini chocolate chips. I may have wanted the cream a bit thicker, but the flavor was true to form. The shell even maintained its crispiness throughout our soggy walk home, shattering as I bit into it (this is supposed to happen).

Rocco's: a great place for awesome cannoli. Man.

Pasticerria Rocco
243 Bleecker Street
New York
New York, 10014