Army of Cupcakes

Believe it or not, these Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes document my first time using pumpkin this season. I know most folks are finished with pumpkin, but I got off to a late start. And while I only made a dozen, it sure seemed like an army of cupcakes when I lined them up on the table! Four down, eight to go!

Pumpkin cupcake + cream cheese frosting + graham cracker crumbs = cheesecake in cupcake form!

Pumpkin Cupcakes (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup unrefined sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill a muffin tin with liners. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour through cloves).
3. In a glass measuring cup, stir together soy milk and vinegar and let sit for a few minutes to curdle. Stir in pumpkin, oil, and vanilla extract.
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until no flour remains.
5. Distribute batter evenly amongst muffin liners and bake for 18-22 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched.
6. Allow cupcakes to cool for a few minutes in tin before removing and placing on a cooling rack.
7. To assemble cupcakes, pipe cream cheese frosting on tops and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Voila!

A few notes:

*I used the cream cheese frosting recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.
*I used the graham cracker recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and ground them in my food processor. I didn’t use the entire batch of graham crackers.

Happy Pumpkin Season!


Chocovado Chip Cookies

I woke up this morning with a desire to bake cookies and immediately did some inventory control in my kitchen. I didn’t have any Earth Balance. I didn’t have any canola oil. I didn’t have any applesauce. But, I really wanted cookies. So, I did what any swift-minded vegan baker would do, I used an avocado! And guess what? It worked wonderfully. You can’t taste the avocado in the cookies, I promise! Just make sure to use a ripe avocado because an unripe avocado would not taste very good. These cookies remind me of a fudgy brownie. They puff up a bit and have a slightly crunchy exterior with a gooey, chocolatly interior. Perfect for breakfast!

Chocovado Chip Cookies

Makes about 15 cookies (more or less depending on the size of your cookie scoop)

1/2 cup ripe avocado
1/2 cup unrefined granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted if clumpy
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 T tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Generous 1/2 cup  chocolate chips (please use organic, fair trade)
Extra granulated sugar for sprinkling, optional

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer), beat the avocado until creamy, about 1 minute.
3. Add in the sugars and cream until fluffy.
4. Add in the cocoa powder and beat on low speed until fully incorporated.
5. Add in the vanilla extract and nondairy milk (start with 1 Tablespoon of milk and add more if the dough seems to dry, I used 2 Tablespoons) and beat until everything is well mixed, about a minute. The dough will be a bit stiff, like brownie batter – that’s what you want!
6. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, tapioca starch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the chocolate mixture and beat until mixed.
7. Add the chocolate chips and stir them into the batter with a spoon to evenly distribute them in the cookie dough.
8. Using a cookie scoop, drop  2 rounded Tablespoons of dough per cookie onto your prepared baking sheets. Flatten slightly with damp palms and sprinkle with a bit of granulated sugar. Bake cookies for 8-9 minutes or until puffy. Allow to cool on cookie sheets for several minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

These are best enjoyed warm!

Golden Adventures

First off, I’d like to express my thanks for all of your kind and uplifting comments regarding my previous post. This month has not been the best for me and I am truly ¬†grateful for the support! I am slowly moving forward from the job loss and seeking new ways to keep myself productive, happy, and fulfilled.

Earlier this week Tim suggested we take a little adventure. I’m always up for a change of scenery, especially during the fall months when the leaves are changing color and the air is crisp. This is, after all, my favorite time of year!

We decided to go on a photography journey so that we could capture all the golden colors before they disappear in a week. We went to two different places, the Clackamas River region in Oregon, and the Columbia River Gorge in Washington. Here are some photographs from our explorations:

Needless to say, I felt much better after escaping Portland for a few days. And, speaking of golden colors, I am currently testing recipes for Terry Romero’s forthcoming cookbook and made some Golden Tandoori Baked Tofu last night for dinner. It was top notch! On the side, Tim and I made Lemongrass Lime Jasmine Rice and Coconut Chili Collard Greens, also test recipes.

I have plenty more test recipes lined up for this week and next week. Hopefully I can post about them soon!

Sweet Solace

I had a very bad week. A job was lost, car parts broke, and one of my favorite plants died from a weird mushroom invasion. I should note that all three of these occurrences actually happened on the same day. And all three were complete shocks. My initial response was to live in a thick haze of mope on the futon. I wasn’t lured by the sunshine, colorful falling leaves, or bike rides. I simply wanted to sit, unbothered, and collect dust. Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, it’s not so simple when you live with a partner whose sweet tooth dominates the entire apartment! Tim graciously demanded a treat nearly every day while I hid my face in books on the oh-so-uncomfortable futon. It wasn’t completely out of greed. Tim knows I love to bake. And once I started, it was hard for me to stop. The baking frenzy helped me forget about my crappy week. Want to know what I made? Here, take a peek (all photo credits go to Tim who insisted on capturing his desserts on camera)!

Chocolate Cream Pie

Cinnamon Rolls

Lemon Layer Cake for my friend Chad’s birthday

Carrot Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

There must be something magical about sweets because I am already starting to feel a bit better and I am no longer on the futon!