Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Up for the challenge

As you know from my last post, I've been watching "Cupcake Champions" and taking on the round one taste challenges in my own kitchen. Sunday's "Madagascar 3" episode, which airs again tonight, had contestants whipping up cupcakes full of African flavors, including at least three from the display table.

I have to admit that I got a little creative with this one, maybe even bending the rules a bit, but in the end, I came up with a simply scrumptious Rawdorable (mostly raw, but sometimes containing cooked elements; they are basically "unbaked") cupcake.

You see, the show rarely ever names off all of the ingredients on the table, and this time, most everyone used the same ingredients (coconut, yams, cloves, plantains and coffee), some which needed to be cooked. Also, I tend to use what I have available in my kitchen at the time of the challenge, and have my own rules about what I'll actually put into my cupcakes.

I guess I could have cooked the yams (I can't stomach them raw), but it reminded me too much of last week's pumpkin-based cupcake. I also didn't have time to allow a plantain to ripen enough (if you wait until the skin turns completely black, they become sweet and soft enough to eat raw), not to mention the fact that I didn't have one anyway.

Then, there was the coffee, which I gave up years ago. Therefore, I used my creative license and substituted raw cocoa powder, which sometimes tastes like coffee (this one tastes like mocha to me) and is my favorite coffee alternative. That left me with coconut and cloves, but since I think I saw cinnamon on the table, I used that, as well.

For extra good measure, I filled the cupcake with a coconut chia concoction, similar to tapioca pudding, since I believe tapioca is made from the cassava root from South Africa. I also was inspired by one of the competitors on the show who used molecular gastronomy to make coconut pearls to fill the inside of her cupcake.

In the process of "unbaking" my cake, I also ran into another issue, much like those on the show (there is always some kind of drama with messed up batters and such). My decision to use a 50:50 ratio of almonds to coconut flakes to make my "flour" resulted in too damp of a "cake." In the end, I added a Tbsp. of plain Sunwarrior rice protein powder to fix the problem and to pump up the protein in my final product (my body has been craving more protein lately anyway).

With the exception of these few snags, I am happy with the resulting cupcake. Here's the recipe, if you want to try it:

My "Cupcake Champions"
"Madagascar 3"
Taste Challenge Cupcake
*Makes one Rawdorable cupcake, inspired by the "Madagascar 3" episode of "Cupcake Champions" (must include at least three African-inspired ingredients featured on the show, such as coconut, yams, cloves, plantains, coffee, cinnamon, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. Sunwarrior Rice Protein Powder in natural flavor
  • 1 Tbsp. date paste
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (Madagascar vanilla is perfect for this challenge)
  • 1/4 tsp. organic raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • dash of sea salt
  • *coconut chia "tapioca" filling ( 1/2 Tbsp. chia seeds mixed with 2 Tbsp. coconut milk, 1/4 tsp. liquid sweetener of choice such as coconut nectar, and a touch of Madagascar vanilla; allow to set for about an hour)
  • *"Butterdream" or whipped canned coconut milk "cream" for frosting, mixed with raw cocoa powder or instant espresso powder, to taste (I mixed about 1 tsp. of raw cocoa powder into 1/4 cup of the "butterdream")
  • *a sprinkling of chia seeds and some coconut shreds for garnish (I arranged the coconut shreds to look like a flower on top)

In a mini food processor or blender, grind the almonds, coconut flakes and protein powder into a flour-like consistency, and transfer the "flour" to a bowl.

Next, add the date paste, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, cloves, cinnamon and sea salt. Whisk to combine (a whisk helps keep the "batter" fluffier). The batter should be moist, but not so damp that it requires "baking" in a dehydrator (although you could if you desire).
Form the batter into a cupcake shape, using a reusable silicone cupcake liner or small ramekin, and leaving a melon ball-size hole in the center. Fill the center with the coconut chia "tapioca" filling (there will be a little left over for sampling).

Frost the cupcake with either "butterdream" or whipped canned coconut milk "cream" (allow a can of coconut milk to set unshaken in the fridge until chilled and the "cream" has separated to the top. Remove the "cream" and whip to a fluffy consistency) mixed with raw cocoa powder or instant espresso powder, to taste.

Garnish with a sprinkling of chia seeds and some coconut shreds. Enjoy!


And now for another challenge, Matthew, Hayden and I went to Jacob's school last Friday for their annual mini Relay for Life. We had fun walking the track, taking dance breaks and raising money for a good cause.

We also got a lot of sun exposure, so I made sure to bring our Dr. Robin sunscreen. We hadn't been able to test it sufficiently for our previous review, but it worked really well at this outdoor event. It's light, non-irritating to our sensitive skin and is fragrance-free. I barely noticed we had it on, except for the fact that Hayden's pale skin remained as porcelain as when we first got there. Thanks again Dr. Robin :-)