vegan vanilla bean cupcakes with chocolate ganache

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Lovely people. If you’re still out there, you have my heart. It has been forever and ever since the last time we were all here and I can’t tell you how much I have missed this place. I feel like so much has happened in the three months I’ve been away. It’s been a journey.

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I wish I could say that I had gone away for three months traveling the world, doing fabulous things, but that just isn’t the case. I did sneak off to Montreal for a weekend in May, which was lovely and hilarious and full of deliciousness (poutine! and fois gras! oui!). I guess the best excuse for my extended absence is my move. I moved to Berkeley in the beginning of June. I didn’t go very far, about 10 miles, but it was a big deal move. It’s my first time ever being on my own, my first time living outside of the town where I grew up. It took me over a month to kind of sort of get it together. I spent the first few weeks slowly bringing things over from my parents’ (so. much. stuff.). Spent an obscene number of hours perusing the interwebs for home furnishings, obsessing over bar carts and throw pillows and pink sofas. Temporarily forgot how to cook for myself. It was rough in the beginning. I use to fantasize about living alone, but it got kind of lonely after the first week. I didn’t realize just how quiet it would be. I bought a small fountain just because I needed some ambient noise. I’m still figuring a few things out, but I absolutely love my place and can’t wait to share it with you.

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These cupcakes were the last thing I baked in my old kitchen, way back in May. My bestie had a birthday party, and I couldn’t show up without goodies in hand, even though she specifically told me not to bake anything (I know she was just being nice, and didn’t want me to be two hours late like previous years). And although I was already packing up my kitchen at that point, I really wanted to squeeze in one last baking day and one last shoot in that old space. So here we are, visiting the old kitchen for the last time.

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If you’re ever in need a solid vegan cupcake recipe, Isa Chandra is the source. I had something very simple in mind, and vanilla cupcakes and chocolate ganache are about as basic as it gets. I couldn’t resist the berries at the market that morning, and they were the perfect way to finish off these beauties. On to the next chapter…

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vegan vanilla bean cupcakes with chocolate ganache

very slightly adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s post punk kitchen

makes 1 dozen

For the cupcakes:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup canola oil

3/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped

For the ganache:

1/3 cup almond milk

heaping 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon Earth Balance or margarine 

2 tablespoons corn syrup or pure maple syrup

Bake the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Whisk the almond milk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.

Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix.

Beat together the almond milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix until no large lumps remain.

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

In the meantime, prepare the ganache.

In a small sauce pan, bring the milk to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer and add the chocolate, Earth Balance, and syrup. Mix with a rubber spatula for about 30 seconds. Turn heat off, continue stirring until the chocolate is fully melted and the icing is smooth.

To assemble:

Let ganache cool for about 10-15 minutes. Dip the top of the cupcake in the ganache and then set them on a cooling rack. Alternately, you can spoon the ganache onto the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with a few raspberries and let set in a cool room for an hour or so, or place in the fridge to set.

 

 

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chocolate mascarpone cake with berries

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This cake is for the summer babies. I’ve accumulated quite a few Leos in my life over the years, not to mention both of my siblings, so July and August are always full of birthday celebrations. And cake. If I love you, and it’s your birthday, I can almost guarantee there will be cake.

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Since I only see my friend Ash once or twice a year, I really wanted to do it right for his birthday. This man is my idol. I don’t know anyone who hosts a dinner party with more grace or whimsy. We’re talking proper place settings and multiple courses. And party favors. And the most glorious tablescapes ever (and not in that Sandra Lee kind of way). Anyway, a birthday cake was in order and I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

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This cake. Now this cake really takes the cake. I may be partial to chocolate cake, but I know a good one when I see one. First of all, who can say no to a chocolate mascarpone frosting? It’s an excellent alternative to your everyday buttercream, with just the perfect level of sweetness but still incredibly decadent. And then there’s all the gorgeous summer berries. I love the combination of rich, creamy, chocolatey and bright, juicy berries. Plus, they really make this little cake quite stunning.

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What really makes this cake a winner is how simple it is to throw together. It’s just a matter of layering and building. I ended up making this beauty two weekends in a row because it was such a hit. The first time I made it, I put my cake pans in the oven without realizing the oven had been turned off, sending me into a panic because I was due in the City in less than two hours. But by some miracle I was able to bake, cool, frost and finish this cake in record time and disaster was averted. I wasn’t even late to dinner.  That’s how quickly this cake comes together. Pretty and easy. Need I say more?

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chocolate mascarpone cake with berries 

adapted just barely from call me cupcake

makes 1 6-inch cake

for the cake: 

1 cup all-purpose flour 

1/4 cup cocoa powder 

1/4 teaspoon baking powder 

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

1/2 cup butter, softened 

3/4 cup light brown sugar 

1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

3 ounces semisweet or bitter sweet chocolate, melted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1/2 cup whole milk 

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter two 6-inch cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with cocoa powder, and knock out the excess. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Repeat with the egg yolk. Add the melted chocolate and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla to the milk. Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.

Divide the batter between the prepared baking pans, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then invert on a cooling rack and continue to cool completely.

for the mascarpone frosting: 

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 cup heavy cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all ingredients. Beat on low speed and slowly increase to medium, beating until the mixture just comes together. Keep an eye on the mixture and beat for just a few more seconds until the mixture begins to thicken. Be extremely careful not to over-beat as this will result in a grainy frosting.

to assemble:

12 ounces fresh berries, I chose a combination of red raspberries, blackberries, and sunburst raspberries 

2 tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)

Place the first cake layer on a cake board or serving plate. Add half of the mascarpone frosting to the center of the cake. Using a spatula, gently spread the frosting over the cake layer until it just reaches the edges. Scatter half of the berries over the frosting. Add a dusting of powdered sugar over the fruit. Place the second cake layer on top of the fruit and repeat.

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