Thursday, January 26, 2012

Prepping for cupcake battle

I must apologize for the brief tease of a post last night. I was so excited to share our "rawified" versions of Sticky Fingers Bakery's second win on "Cupcake Wars," but did not have time to post how I did it or any info about my inspiration.

First of all, let me tell you about the show. As you know, I'm a huge fan of Food Network's "Cupcake Wars," despite the fact that I wouldn't actually eat all of the cupcakes (or ingredients) presented by its contestants. I'll admit that I sometimes indulge in the baked ones, if they are vegan, and especially when they are from Sticky Fingers Bakery in D.C. (gotta root for the home team, although the kids and I really like Chloe's cupcakes, as well). However, most of the time, I just make raw vegan versions of the cupcakes to try in my own kitchen.

When Sticky Fingers won "Cupcake Wars" initially, I "rawified" just the one cupcake that was posted on the Food Network and VegNews websites. When I heard this vegan bakery would be back for an All-Stars episode, I opted to make mostly raw versions of all four winning cupcakes (these are still, in fact, cupcakes, so I made a few not-so-stellar ingredient exceptions for authenticity's sake; please remember these are not meant for eating daily).

If you watched my preview video yesterday, you already know what the flavors were that I "rawified" from the American Music Award episode. They're Sticky Fingers Bakery's Rolling Stones Brown Sugar Cupcake, Man in Black Johnny Cashew Cupcake, Salt-n-Peppa-inspired Cupcake and Chuck Berry-inspired Cupcake. I'll tell you more about each one, when I post their full recipes. For now, here's the prep work (best to do the day before your personal Cupcake War), including making the date paste, "butterdream" (rather than traditional buttercream) and garnishes:

Date Paste: soak dates overnight and then blend into a paste.

Raw "Butterdream" Base
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 4 small dates
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • dash of sea salt
Blend all the ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Pour into a container and chill in the fridge overnight until ready to use.

*If making the "butterdream" frosting for the four "rawified" Sticky Fingers cupcakes in this post, here's how to prep them for each cupcake:

Spiced Rum Icing: mix 1/4 cup of the "butterdream" with 1/2 Tbsp. of rum (remind me to share the funny story that goes with that in my next post) or 1/2 tsp. rum extract, and cinnamon, allspice and cloves, to taste

Dark Chocolate Icing: mix 1/4 cup of the "butterdream" with 1 Tbsp. dark cocoa powder (raw cocoa powder or dutch-processed, but only for the authenticity of this recipe)

Vanilla Bean Icing: mix 1/4 cup of the "butterdream" with the seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean

Strawberry Icing: mix 1/4 cup of the "butterdream" with 1 or 2 Tbsp. of finely ground freeze-dried strawberries (just use a personal blender or very clean coffee grinder to turn freeze-dried strawberries into a powder)

Garnishes, etc.

Brown Sugar Nut Brittle & Johnny Cashew Filling: In a small cup or bowl, mix together 1 Tbsp. date paste, 1 Tbsp. of the "butterdream," 1/2 Tbsp. maple powder, touch of vanilla extract and a dash of sea salt. Divide the mixture in half. Add some chopped pecan pieces to one half of the mixture and chopped cashews to the other. Spread the pecan mixture on a piece of parchment in a thin square or rectangular shape to look like brittle and freeze until firm. The cashew mixture will be used to fill the Johnny Cashew Cupcake.

Chocolate Boot Cookie and Headphones: In a mini food processor, combine 1/4 cup almonds, 1 Tbsp. coconut flakes, 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder and a dash of sea salt. Process into a "flour." Add 1/2 of a date, a touch of vanilla and a drizzle of pure maple syrup, and process to form a dough. Flatten the dough as you would when baking cookies, and use a small round cookie cutter to cut out two circles for the headphones. Then, with a knife, cut out a strip for the top of the headphones and a cowboy boot shape. Bend the strip like a rainbow and set all the pieces in the fridge until ready to use.

Fruity fondant: For the guitar, finely grind 2 Tbsp. freeze-dried strawberries (for some sparkle, include one piece of freeze-dried pineapple) and 1/2 Tbsp. coconut flakes in a personal blender or very clean coffee grinder. Add the powder to a small cup or bowl, and stir in about 1/2 Tbsp. of coconut oil to bind the powder together (you may need to add a tiny bit more, if necessary, but be careful not to add too much). Finish mixing with your hands and then flatten the mixture into a thin layer on a piece of parchment. Use a knife to cut out a guitar shape.

For the musical notes, follow the directions for the guitar, but replace the strawberries with freeze-dried pineapple. Cut into musical note shapes.


Okay, so now you know how to prep for cupcake "unbaking." Hopefully, I'll get a chance to post the bases and assembly tomorrow :-)