Sugar Plum Vegan

Sweetly Humane musings from a vegan bakeress

Iron Cupcake Challenge 2: Ingredient-Basil September 23, 2008

Filed under: 1 — Jivana @ 2:46 am

Home Grown Purple Basil Cupcake with Chocolate Orange Mousse

My second Iron Cupcake Challenge has arrived and the secret ingredient is basil.  What a perfect challenge for me because we have tons of basil growing in our garden.  We have eaten the wonderful herb in so many different ways but not yet in a sweet treat–Sugar Plum Vegan Man will love this one!

I chose to use our Purple Basil variety.  It’s a beautiful plant with a gloriously fragrant basil smell.  I put the basil in a food processor with organic sugar and created a basil sugar that I added to my vanilla sponge recipe.  The cake tuned out incredibly moist and delicious.  For the frosting I made a chocolate orange mousse out of silken tofu, dark chocolate, maple syrup and orange oil.  It complemented the basil cake quite well and was a winning flavor combination in my house.

Purple Basil Growing Strong

As much fun as I had this is a competition so vote for my organic, vegan and local purple basil cupcake beginning on Sunday, September 28th until Wednesday, September 30th (our two year anniversary!) at No One Puts Cupcake in the Corner.  We are competing to win the
following prizes: a cupcake ring by be sure to include reference and a link to our prize providers:
ETSY artist METAL SUGAR, Head Chefs Cooking Tools by Fiesta ProductsHello Cupcake Book by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, a Jessie Steele Apron, a Cupcake Courier and gifts from Taste of Home magazine.

Wow! That’s a lot of prizes that I would love to win.  So be sure to vote for your lovable Sugar Plum Vegan.  Blessings and Basil for all!

 

The Perfect Balance-Kyanite and Moonstone September 11, 2008

Filed under: vegan — Jivana @ 7:38 pm
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My harmonious balance of Kyanite and Moonstone

My harmonious balance Kyanite and Moonstone

I have had a moonstone pendant for as long as I can remember.  I bought it while in college in Boston but at that time I did not know the healing properties it would bring me.  I just thought it was pretty and I would put it on every once in a while when it matched an outfit I was wearing.

Years have passed and my man found it in my jewelry box and insisted that I start wearing it again. He says it would help balance me and my emotions.  I had just had Jasper, our son, and was feeling a bit “crazy” I guess you could say.  My emotions were overwhelming me and I didn’t know which way was up.  This period was very trying on our relationship and the outcome did not look good.

I had already started taking “happy pills” as we call them.  They are a natural blend of St. John’s Wart, Kava Kava, Passionflower, Schizandra Berry, Siberian Ginseng and Wild Oats.  The pill did help but I felt like there was something missing so I happily agreed to wear the moonstone on a regular basis.

Minutes after I put the pendant on I did feel a slight shift of calmness overtaking me.  It was like a light went on inside me that softened all my feelings of stress and anxiety.  I felt less overwhelmed and depressed.  I felt like the fire had lit inside me again and I was shining.

But if I skipped a happy pill, I was pulled back into the darkness.  It saddened me to think I could only function with my ultra does of mood balancing herbs.  The moonstone just seemed to be one ingredient to my well being and without the rest it did not make me a happy cupcake.

So I stuck with this combination until one day my man gave me a Kyanite pendant and that is when everything changed…

Kyanite is a gemstone that does not accumulate negative energies, and it therefore never need to be cleansed or cleared.  As the energy of kyanite is all but unlimited, it is said to be one of the best gemstones for use as an atonement stone.  And that is exactly what I need right now to find my inner peace!

Ever since I put the kyanite on along with the moonstone I have felt an amazing transformation.  I feel more at peace and I find myself to be able to express my self in a positive way.  I have also found that it has helped with my meditation.  I have been able to clear my mind and meditate on my mantra much easier than before.  And the dreams I have been having are intese, vibrant and releasing a lot of my hidden feelings and emotions.

And guess what?  No more happy pills!!  As wonderful and natural as they are, I had a problem with taking them.  Now I am feeling the energy of the world so intensely but not holding on to any negative vibes.  Some call kyanite a shield.  I would tend to agree.

I encourage everyone to get kyanite and moonstone.  Where them as jewerly or just hold the stones in your hand for a bit to feel their energies.  It will change you.

Light and love to you!

 

Daring Bakers Challenge–Eclair–Making it Vegan August 31, 2008

A vegan puff--gooey and delicious

A vegan puff--gooey and delicious

This is my second Daring Bakers challenge and boy what a challenge it was this month for a vegan! The recipe was from a cookbook written by Dorie Greenspan: Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme.

Pierre Herme is a world-renowned French pastry chef who Vogue called, “The Picasso of Pastry”. His website demonstrates his beautiful creations that can be found in at his jewel box pastry shop in France.

We were given his eclair recipe to replicate. I’ve made eclairs before in my past non-vegan life and they are quite delightful to make and eat. Pate a choux is the dough that is used to make this puffy babies. One of the key ingredients is the eggs to help them rise. I thought about this for some time and tried to figure out how this was going to work for a vegan. I surfed the web to find any inspiration for this recipe and found a lot of chefs saying it’s just not possible. Well, I did not want to give up so I daring took this challenge on not sure of my success.

Eclair and a Cream Puff--Twice as nice!

Eclair and a Cream Puff--Twice as nice!

So I used Ener-G Egg Replace and whipped the heck out of it with my mixer. My pate a choux did not turn out as puffy as it should be but I kind of expected that. I filled them with a coconut pastry cream and dipped them in a delicious dark vegan chocolate ganache and drizzle some homemade white chocolate on the tops.

Homemade White Chocolate is so yummy!

Homemade White Chocolate is so yummy!

If I had more time in my life I would spend hours and hours perfecting the recipe but I have to run a business and be a mom.   Maybe when I retire and Sugar Plum Vegan is so successful that I have other people doing my job for me I will tackle the vegan eclair again.  Until them I am satisfied with my outcome, they are good enough for me to eat and sometimes that’s just all you need.

 

One Hot Mama!! Coconut Serrano Cupcakes with Avocado Lime Filling and Toasted Coconut Buttercream– My Iron Cupcake:Earth–Chili Challenge Entry August 23, 2008

Filed under: 1 — Jivana @ 4:33 pm
Vote for my Coconut Serrano Cupcake!!  Click on the photo to vote.

Vote for my Coconut Serrano Cupcake!! Click on the photo to vote.

Ever since I joined the Daring Bakers I’ve really enjoyed the idea of challenge baking with a group of talented chefs from all over the world. It really inspires me and helps get my creative juices flowing. So when I came across Iron Cupcake:Earth I was estatic! I’ve watched the original Iron Chef on TV before but was always grossed out by all the meat they used; however I thought the idea of using a specific food to make your items with was interesting. You can get so many different takes and ideas using this one food and that fascinated me.

Iron Cupcake:Earth is similar to this concept and the best part is that there is voting for the best ideas and they offer prizes!! Woo Hoo! Who doesn’t like a prize for baking? This is the first challenge for the group and the ingredient is the chili pepper. I liked this ingredient because it’s fun to add spicy or savory item to your sweet baking. It brings out a complexity that you just don’t get from only using sweet ingredients. I really think I’m going to like being a part of Iron Cupcake!

And now for the prizes.. We will be competing to win original artwork from the wonderful and talented Etsy artist Cakespy as well as a awesome Cupcake Courier, a cute as a button apron from Jessie Steele Aprons and finally a cookbook from Taste of Home.

I’m happy with my entry. I really think the flavors blend together tastefully and delicously!

So Vote for me at No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner from Sunday, August 31, at 9 a.m.PST until Thursday, September 4, at 9 a.m.PST. Support your local vegan Hot Mama Baker.

Beautiful Serrano

Beautiful Serrano

Coconut Serrano Cupcake with Avocado Lime Filling and a Toasted Coconut Buttercream
(Vegan and Wheat Free)

Preheat Oven 350 degrees

Cake

1 1/2 cup organic white spelt
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
Combine these dry ingredients in bowl and set aside

Cream in a mixer
8 Tbs Earth Balance Vegan Spread
1 cup organic sugar

Add first and mix
1/2 cup natural coconut milk (get one with no preservatives)

Add Second and mix
1/4 cup vanilla soy yogurt

Add Third and mix
2 En-R-G Egg Replacer “eggs” whisked stiff

Now add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients

Finally add 1-2 Tbs pureed serrano chili pepper, adjust the hottness to your likening

Scoop mixture in cupcake holders a little less than 3/4 of the way up–these babies rise!
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before filling and frosting.

Avocado-Lime Filling

This is actually “raw” and I use it in one of my raw tarts. It’s delicious to just eat on it’s on so don’t be upset if you have a little extra.
2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup agave nectar
Juice from 1 large, ripe lime–or 2 small ones if you can’t find a large
1 Tbs of lime zest
1 Tbs coconut butter
1/4 tsp sea salt
Blend all ingredients in the food processor until smooth and creamy and oh so good!
Cover and refridgerate for 2 hours before using so it sets. Don’t worry about the avocado turning brown–the lime stabalizes it and keeps the lovely green color.

Toasted Coconut Buttercream

Blend in mixer until smooth
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Spread

Add
2 1/2 cups of sifted, organic powdered sugar (use organic!)
Blend for a few minutes and then

Add
1/4 cup coconut milk (there should be leftovers from your cake so conserve a can and use it)!
Add
2 tsp organic coconut extract
Blend until it becomes powdery and fluffy. Refridgerate a few hours or make the night before.

Garnish
Toast unsweetened coconut flakes in a 325 oven for a few minutes. Be sure to watch them because they can burn easily.

To Assemble

Scoop a hole into your cupcakes for the filling. Eat the scraps and get yourself on a sugar high.

Fill each cupcake with the avocado lime filling. I used a pastry bag and piped it in.

Refridgerate for 30 minutes so the filling can set again.

When set, frost the edges with the coconut buttercream using a piping bag.

Sprinkle the toasted coconut around the edges.
Viola!
Enjoy the firey cupcake balance by the cool filling and sweet frosting.

 

Gluten Free Vegan Latkes! August 14, 2008

Filed under: gluten free,vegan — Jivana @ 5:48 pm
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Are you excited?  You will be once you try these!  My man grew up Jewish and latkes were a big part of their family during the holidays.  Once becoming a vegan, he stopped eating them because of the eggs in the recipe.  Since moving to Sacramento, I have embraced his Jewish side and have undertaken the fine art of vegan Jewish cooking.  Our favorite item to eat any time of the year is latkes.  We are crazy about potatoes and latkes bring out the yummy flavor of them.  I started out veganizing them by using spelt as the flour but then I moved on to making them gluten free due to his allergy to gluten.

I chose garbanzo bean flour for this recipe because I think it pairs nicely with the other flavors and gives it a Mediterranean aspect and delicious flavor.  Besides, every body loves ‘banzos, right?  Just kidding.  If you can’t find it, use brown rice flour to keep it gluten free or spelt to just make it wheat free.

We go for the traditional sour cream and apple sauce method of enjoying our latkes.  For the sour cream, we absolutely love the vegan sour cream by Follow Your Heart – it tastes just like the real thing when you add a latke and a little apple sauce.  You can also add a little bit of hot sauce if you like it spicy.

If you can make it to the farmer’s market, get some fresh zucchini and carrots – I’ve also added them to the original latke repertoire which makes them subtly delicious.   Our whole family has given Huge Mazel Tov’s on this recipe and I hope you will enjoy it too.

Gluten Free Latkes

6 starchy white potatoes, peeled if you don’t like the skins

1 medium onion (we like the sweet red ones)

1 large or 2 smaller zucchini

2 carrots, peeled

½ tsp sea salt, or to taste

¼ tsp pepper

¼ cup of organic non-GMO corn starch or potato starch

1 ½ -2 cups Garbanzo bean flour

Safflower oil or your favorite oil for frying

If using a food processor:
Use the grating blade to shred the potatoes, onion, zucchini and carrots.

If shredding by hand, use a grater to shred all the potatoes, zucchini and carrots. Dice the onion as finely as possible.

Put all vegetables in a large mixing bowl and blend.Add the starch of your choice and mix.Allow it to dissolve for a couple minutes and get sticky from the moisture of the potatoes.

Add the salt, pepper and flour combining well.The mixture should get sticky and be able to hold together and form well.Use more or less flour to get to this consistency.Let mixture sit while heating up the oil.

In a non-stick skillet, add the oil for frying and heat on medium-high heat.Do not let the oil smoke—it too hot!Turn me down!You want to have a good amount of oil in your pan because these babies love to suck up the oil and get crispy good.

While the oil is heating up, set your oven to warm to keep the latkes warm until you’re ready to serve.Also have a plate with paper towels ready to soak up their oil when you first bring them out of the pan.

When the oil is hot and ready, take a large cookie scooper and scoop the latke mixture into the pan and press them flat with a spatula.If you don’t have a scooper, just use your wet hands and roll into medium balls and flatten with spatula.Fry the latkes on one side for about 4-5 minutes, or until they are golden brow.Flip and fry for another 4 minutes.We like ours a bit crispy here so reduce the frying time by a minute if you want them less crisp.

Transfer to the paper towel plate and to dry and them place in warm oven on baking sheet.Continue the process until you’re out of mixture. Munch on a latke while completing, it takes some time.

Serve warm with applesauce and our favorite Follow Your Heart Sour Cream, which we tossed some fresh parsley and chives into.

 

Scarlet’s Birthday Cake July 31, 2008

Filed under: baking,vegan — Jivana @ 8:56 pm
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Happy Birthday Scarlet
Happy Birthday Scarlet

Last week I got a message through my blog from a lovely woman named Claire if I make birthday cakes. Her daughter Scarlet was turning one and was allergic to dairy and soy. I told her that it would be no problem to make her a cake. I was planning on using a cashew creme frosting I used before for a gluten/soy free wedding cake. I wanted Claire to know the ingredients I would be using so i sent them over to her and wouldn’t you know it–Scarlet’s allergic to nuts too–as well as citrus and berries.
My palms became sweaty for a moment as I nervously thought, “how am I going to make a frosting that doesn’t fall apart?” Another message from Claire told me that Scarlet could have coconut.
Amen to that!!
So I made a frosting of coconut oil and milk, agave nectar and arrowroot powder. It was a bit tricky and wasn’t holding up like I wanted it to so I added a bit of organic spelt flour to it and YES I had frosting
that would spread and pipe.
So I let that sit overnight to set and proceed to make a delicious vanilla spelt cake with oat milk. The texture was dense and delicious. I have never baked with oat milk before and I was quite pleased with
the results. My baking time on the cake seemed to take a little longer than usual but that was the
only difference.

Layers of love for Scarlet
Layers of love for Scarlet

I decorated the cake very simply with toasted coconut, a pearl border and fresh roses from our garden. Scarlet and her family enjoyed the cake immensely. I really love being able to make something for someone who can’t usually enjoy the sweet luxuries of life that we have grown accustomed to.

 

My First Daring Bakers Challenge-Almond Gateau with Praline Buttercream July 30, 2008

Filed under: 1,baking,vegan — Jivana @ 9:41 pm
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I am a Daring BakerI am now officially a daring baker!
I got through my first challenge which was filled with eggs, egss, more eggs and butter . The original recipe Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream came from the book Great Cakes by Carol Walter. The recipe uses 7 egg yolks and 5 egg whites in the cake and another 3 egg whites and 3 sticks of butter in the frosting. What a challenge to start with for a vegan baker! But that’s what being a daring baker is all about. I embraced this recipe with all my vegan love.

Almond Gateau with Praline Buttercream

Almond Gateau with Praline Buttercream

Firstly, I switched the hazelnuts to almonds because Mr. Sugar Plum Vegan prefers them. I also used organic spelt flour in the cake to make it wheat free. The cake itself didn’t rise as much as I would have liked it too so I only cut the cake into two layers instead of three. I used organic orange oil instead of alcohol in the cake to make it baby friendly. The praline buttercream was made using Follow Your Heart cream cheese that I got as a sample from this great company. It turned out delicious–we are still eating the leftover frosting! My ganache was made using vegan chocolate and almond milk–my husband sang a song about it because it tasted so good. It goes, “Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh it’s vegan ganache!” Super cute and sung in the voice of King Julian of Madagascar–our son’s new favorite movie.

I also skipped the whipped cream filling layer because I couldn’t find the Soyatoo Whipping Cream, which I love by the way. You use it just like regular whipping cream and it tastes amazing–use it if you can find it. And finally my apricot glaze turned into stawberry glaze because I just plain forgot to buy apricot and had some strawberry in the fridge. Overall my cake turned out delectable. I skimped a little on the decoration and went for the simplistic look. It was a fun challenge and I can’t wait for more to come!

Have a slice my friend.

Have a slice my friend.

Sugar Plum Vegan’s Almond Gateau with Praline Buttercream

1 Almond Genoise

1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with orange oil

1 recipe Praline Buttercream

1/2 cup Soyatoo Whipped Cream, whipped to soft peaks

1 recipe Strawberry Glaze

1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using

A few almonds for decoration

Almond Genoise
1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan spread
1 cup organic sugar
1/2 c vanilla soy yogurt
1 cup almond milk
1 cup white spelt
3/4 cup almond meal–I ground my own almonds in the food processor
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

Cream Earth Balance and sugar in mixer. Add soy yogurt and almond milk and mix well.

Stir together flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt.

Add dry to wet and pour into a high six inch cake pan or two or three small sided ones.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about an hour.
The cake can be made a few days before just wrap it tightly

Sugar Syrup–adapted from original recipe
1/2 cup water
1/8 cup organic sugar
1 tablespoon orange oil

Bring the water and sugar to boil in heavy sauce pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the oil. Let it cool before coating the cake. This can be made in advance and any left over can be used to sweeten your ice coffee or tea.

Praline Buttercreamadapted from original recipe
1 recipe creamy cheez buttercream
praline paste
2 tablespoons orange oil

Blend buttercream into paste and add oil.

Creamy Cheez Buttercream
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Spread
1/2 cup Follow Your Heart Cream Cheese
2 cups organic powdered sugar
1/4 cup almond milk

Blend Earth Balance and Cream Cheez for a few minutes. Add sifted powdered sugar and blend again for a few more minutes. Add almond milk and blend one more time until you get a creamy goodness that bowl lickable! Refrigerate the buttercream for a few hours or overnight. It will keep for a while.

Praline Pasteadapted from original recipe
1/2 cup almonds, toasted/skinless*
1/3 cup organic sugar

Pour sugar into a skillet and heat on low flame for about 10-20 minutes until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. Watch out this is some hot stuff!! Spread out evenly on a silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and put them in the food processor–but not before you try a few–yummy! Pulse into a powder and process several minutes to make a paste. Store in an airtight container and do not refrigerate.

*to remove almond skin just soak them in hot water for a few minutes and the skins will remove easily with your hands.

Candied Almond Brittle

Candied Almond Brittle

Strawberry Glaze
1/3 cup organic strawberry preserves
2 teaspoons water

Bring preserves and water to boil and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and press through stainer. Brush on cake while still warm.

Ganache Glaze
1/2 cup good vegan chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup almond milk
2 teaspoons orange oil

Set up a double boiler with a large pot filled with water and a metal bowl over it. Melt chocolate in double boiler and once melted, remove from heat and whisk in almond milk and orange oil. Let cool a bit but do not let it get cold or you’ll end up with vegan truffle base.

Assembling The Cake

Cut the cake into two layers and trim the top of the cake so it has a flat surface. Place one layer on a 6-inch cake circle. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layers with the warm sugar syrup mixture. Using a pastry bag with a round tip, make a well with the praline buttercream on one layer by circling around the edges to create height. Fill the well with the buttercream and put the other layer on top. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Remove cake from fridge and trim the sides so they are perfectly straight with a slight bevel at the top so the ganache will pour easily. Brush the tops and side of the cake with warm strawberry glazr, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a cookie sheet to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refridgerator and put it on the rack. Wit a metal spatula in hand, and holding the ganache bowl about 10 inches about the cake, pour the ganche onto the cakes’s center. Move the spatula over the top to get a smooth apperance. The ganache should cover teh top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache is poured and is coateing the cake, life one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. Patch any bare spots on the side witha smaller spatula, but do not touch the top afeter the “bang”. Let the cake stand 15 minutes in refridgerator to set.

Decorate the cake to you fancy using any leftover praline buttercream and the extra almonds. Refridgerate uncoverd for 3 hours to allow the cake to set. Allow to set at room temperature before eating if you can wait that long.

Blessings to you and enjoy!