What to do with tons of frosting and a mind all nibbly for chocolate? Stuff it and spread it on top of a cupcake!
When I first met Man-thing at work I very quickly developed a very stupid crush, but somewhat different to what I had experienced before. I assessed my reactions non-stop and knew after the first month that he was someone I could spend the rest of my life with, because we were constantly babbling and having the greatest, easiest conversations ever. In fact, the first time I introduced myself, fully expecting and planning for a super shy 5 second hello, we ended up chatting for an hour or so, and I couldn’t wait until I started work, just to have someone so intelligent (and handsome!) around for company.
Since we’re both awkward penguins we displayed feelings in very subtle ways – he lent me a computer so that I could play Morrowind and Oblivion, and I would make muffins every week. Mind, these were store-packet muffin mix vibes I was throwing about, but because I was barely proficient at pasta I was beyond proud of myself, and so would make these treats on a weekly basis, not only to feed my colleagues, but also to “impress” Man-thing. Since his idea of a gourmet meal (when he’s making it himself) is soy mince pasta, I guess it was bound to appear much more marvellous than what it actually was, but it was still such a wonderful feeling to bake something, no matter how stupid, and have someone appreciate it.
That whole experience, plus his official qualification as my permanent guinea pig (marriage papers are useful like that), slowly kick-started my now crazy frenzy as a novice baker/maker of goods, and through the whole process I’ve discovered so many new and wild ways that food can be prepared and enjoyed. I mean, gluten-free? Not two years ago I was scoffing and snuffing at the whole idea, and now wheat gives me serious pause, and me and buckwheat flour are making eyes at one another. Veganism? I always thought it was so fringe and wild, and what would I do without ice-cream and cheese? Make my own! It gives me such a giddy feeling, such glee and joy, to do things like make my own butter or grind something with the mortar and pestle, because not even three years ago making avocado toast was a highlight of my kitchen skills. The best part of it all is that one can still learn – from others, from experience, from the environment.
When I was walking through the Hazelwood Food Market with my grandmother and aunt yesterday we were stopping at all the stalls and it was just amazing to hear my aunt and grandmother talking about me to the sellers about how I’m gluten-free (almost there, not quite, but still sweet!) and how I make all the same stuff they were selling (really bladdy delicious looking brownies and cookies!) with beetroot and weird ingredients – all without any sense that I was somehow daft or ridiculous. I never think family are listening when I go on a food rant, but the fact that they’ve picked up small things, such as jelly or pesto not being vegan, or that I don’t eat honey, is just actually sensational. The other day I was ordering a salad and my SIL, Rikke, piped up to the waiter that she shouldn’t add any dressing, because it usually has dairy in it. I mean, how awesome! I’ve even gotten hold of very precious recipes from both my family and Man-thing’s to veganize, such as my grandmother’s awesomesauce sugar cookies (seriously, wow!), or my MIL’s famous chocolate pudding cake. All of which is akin to giving a child a pair of scissors for the first time – dangerous, but you want to see what they can do! :p
Best of all, my MIL bought us each a book entitled “Vegan Bites: Recipes for Singles” so that I could add another book to my collection (which is rather limited in paperback, thanks to the pricey nature of cookbooks) AND so that she could try out vegan recipes for when I came to visit!! I can’t get over my excitement about that, because that is really amazing on so many levels. I’ve asked her that we set a date to try out a few together, because that’s always fun when experimenting, so even if no-one in my family goes vegan (unlikely, but one never knows!) it’s still such a blessing that so many people are willing to at least listen, learn, and even try things out.
As a thank you for the book (and two adorable cat mugs!) I made some gluten-free cupcakes, because I still had some of Ricki Heller’s fabulous “buttercream” frosting left over, and felt like it was time to revisit the world of cupcakes. We went to go see the Sound of Music on Friday evening, and with traffic we weren’t sure if there would be time to munch something, so I figured as a worst case scenario we could all pop a cupcake into the maw to tide us over. Luckily it didn’t come to that, and they got to take the bunch home to feast on in leisure. May I just re-iterate my more recent revelation, that gluten-free is awesome? I absolutely loathed it the first few times I tested out recipes, but now that I’ve learnt to add more liquids and other ingredients it is just fabulous, as are these cupcakes!
Ingredients (makes 12): (Modified and based on CCK’s skinny vanilla cupcakes)
- 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/2 oat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 TBSP flax powder
- 3/4 cup date paste
- 1 packet stevia
- 1 TBSP vanilla essence
- 1 cup tofu
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
- 3 TBSP coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp xantham gum
- 1/2 portion of Ricki’s “buttercream” frosting
- Preheat the oven to 180C and spray a muffin tin (next time I’ll use my mini-muffin pan because they’ll fit)
- Mix the wet ingredients very well, including the flax powder, until combined. Make sure the flax powder doesn’t clump up – use the back of your spoon to squish out the bumps if necessary.
- In a big bowl mix your dry ingredients.
- Add wet to dry and mix well, but, as CKK says, don’t overmix – this will lead to flat results – you want fluffiness!
- Add more milk by the TBSP if you think your batter is too dry.
- Bake for 25 minutes (please oh please check your oven – mine is a bit wonky so it may take 20 minutes).
- Let it cool on the rack before removing..
- Slice in half and frost with 1/2 TBSP of Ricki’s frosting per cupcake (increase to 1 TBSP if you’re adventurous).
- 1/2 portion of Ricki “buttercream” frosting
- 1/2 cup date paste
- 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (omit if Ricki’s frosting is already soft/freshly made)
- 1 TBSP vanilla essence
- Blend and spread! :p (actually, if you’ve kept your frosting in the fridge as I did, then just briefly blitz the mixture in the microwave for 10 seconds til softened (it will happen very quickly!) and then blend the rest of the ingredients)
These are great! I kept mine in the fridge (which is why they look so “together”) because lately I’m a convert for chilly treats, but apparently the in-laws had to fight over who got how many, and I was very sad to only have one myself. That delicious thick frosting in the middle and the swirly happiness on top is just a delight, and the cupcake is light but but airy, which I hate in a cupcake and find it such a waste of food. So in that sense these cupcakes are closer to a muffin than a traditional cupcake, because of the slightly density of the buckwheat, but that makes them all the more fun and filling to eat.