Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ginger Nutmeg Spice Cupcakes

Have you ever watched Food Network's Cupcake Wars?  Well, this is where this recipe came from.  A vegan chef named Chloe Coscarelli was the first vegan chef to ever win a show on the Food Network.  I never saw her episode, but when I saw her cookbook at Barnes & Nobles with the words, "Winner of Food Network's Cupcake Wars," I had to have it.  The book Chloe's Kitchen has more than just dessert recipes in it.  I've made her mac & cheese, a pasta salad, and the barley casserole I've blogged about before, to name a few.  This recipe is her award winning recipe, and they've been a hit each time I've made them for friends and family.

What you'll need for the cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup canned coconut milk, mixed well before measuring
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons white or apple-cider vinegar (I prefer the apple-cider one)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

What you'll need for the Vanilla Bean Butter Cream Frosting:
1 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
seeds of 1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract (I've used both in this recipe and I couldn't taste much of a difference.)
2 to 5 tablespoons soy, almond, or rice milk (I prefer almond milk.)

What you'll need for the Date Caramel:
6 medjool dates
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons water
1/4 ground cinnamon

I apologize ahead of time if my pictures are a little dark.  The lighting in my kitchen isn't good without the sunlight.  I also take all the pictures with my iPad.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 12-cup cupcake pans with 18 cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.
In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, coconut milk, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined.  Don't over mix.

Fill the cupcake liners about two-thirds full with batter.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it.  Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.

Using a handheld or stand mixer (I love my Kitcheaid), beat shortening until smooth.  With the mixer running on low, add powdered sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, and 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk at a time, as needed, until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency.
You may not need to use all of the non-dairy milk.  Beat on high for 2 more minutes until light and fluffy.

Place dates in a small saucepan with water to cover, and bring to a gentle boil.  Let the dates boil gently for 10 minutes.  Drain and rince with cold water until cool to the touch.  Peel the dates with your fingers and discard the skin.  Remove the pits and coarsely chop the dates.  Place in a blender;  add maple syrup, water, and cinnamon.  Blend until smooth.  Refrigerate until chilled.

I didn't make the date caramel for this blog, but I've made it in the past.  The dates are very sticky, and they will stick to your hands.  You can serve these cupcakes with or without the caramel and they'll taste just as yummy.  The caramel adds an extra sweetness.

Spread a thin layer of the Vanilla Bean Butter Cream on the Spice Cupcakes and drizzle with the Date Caramel.

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