Vegan Cupcakes That Can Fool April
I'll make this snappy because I don't want to keep you from what I predict will be a life-changing experience.
What if I told you it was possible to bake the most outrageous chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes cloaked in a chocolate ganache frosting -- but without a drop of dairy, a smidge of eggs or a spoonful of sugar. That means that the most outrageous chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes in the world are also: a) cholesterol-free and b) diabetic friendly (the sweetener on duty is the low-glycemic agave nectar).
If you're feeling a disconnect, I feel you. It is bizarre that rich, chocolate and tender crumb can be uttered in the same sentence as virtuous -- and vegan-undetectable. In fact, I daresay that these cupcakes would make the ultimate April Fool's Day (next Tuesday, April 1) treat -- you literally could fool the pants off all your pals and watch their mouths drop when you reveal the secret.
The mistress behind this cupcake wizardry is Ania Catalano, author of the new "Baking With Agave Nectar," a creative collection of agave-centric recipes, many of which are vegan, gluten-free or both. (Her banana bread is also a winner.)
With any work of perfection, there's always a caveat; in this case, it's the long list of ingredients that include silken tofu, soy milk, agave nectar, cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate and peanut butter. The recipe, however, is straightforward and reliable; I recommend making the peanut butter filling the night before so it's one less thing to worry about on batter day.
And now I leave you, so you can go see for yourselves that a cupcake can both super-fabulous and virtuous. It's the most delicious prank you'll ever play -- and they'll love you for it.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse-filled Cupcakes
From "Baking With Agave Nectar" by Ania Catalano
2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (Catalano also suggests sprouted spelt flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cups agave nectar
1 cup soy milk
1/2 cup firm silken tofu
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
12 ounces lite firm silken tofu
1/2 cup light agave nectar
1 cup unsweetened creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
Make filling first: Blend tofu in a food processor until very smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add agave nectar and blend again. Add peanut butter, vanilla and salt and blend thoroughly until very light and smooth. Refrigerate for at least one hour to firm up before filling cupcakes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with 18 paper liners. Fill any empty cups halfway with water to prevent scorching.
To make cupcakes, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder in a large bowl. In a food processor, blend canola oil, agave nectar, soy milk, tofu, vanilla and vinegar, scraping down the bowl often.
Blend until very smooth, with no chunks of tofu visible, about 2-3 minutes. Combine wet ingredients with dry. Stir well and spoon into prepared pans, leaving some room at top of each cup.
Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of cupcake comes out clean. (In my oven, they took about 25 minutes.) Remove cupcakes from pan and place on cooling rack. Cool completely before filling and frosting.
To assemble cupcakes, you will need a pastry bag fitted with a large, plain smooth tip (you can make your own pastry bag with a Zip loc bag but will still need a tip, available at cookware stores.). Fill bag with peanut butter mousse and insert tip halfway into top of each cupcake. Squeeze filling inside each cupcake until it starts to expand.
Make the frosting:
Vegan Chocolate Ganache Frosting
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup light agave nectar
3/4 cup nondairy creamer (soy creamer is preferable to CoffeeMate which contains corn syrup solids)
1 tablespoon nonhydrogenated butter substitute (such as Earth Balance)
1 tablespoon vanilla
Combine chocolate, agave nectar and creamer in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until chocolate melts, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in butter substitute and vanilla. To spread easily, ganache should be slightly warm, and the consistency of hot fudge.
Spread ganache evenly over tops of cupcakes. (If frosting is too firm, heat in microwave for a few seconds to soften up.)
Store cupcakes in refrigerator until ready to serve.
(KOD note: You can half this recipe and have plenty of frosting for all cupcakes. Make a full batch only if you think you've got other baking projects in the wings.)
Makes 18 cupcakes.
Garnish: chopped peanuts.
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