Sunday, August 22, 2010

can't be beet chocolate cupcakes

ok. here it is. everyone asks me about how to make these cupcakes so figured it was time for me to write a post about it. i call these the "can't be beet chocolate cupcakes." they are made with beets and chocolate and are surprisingly moist and extremely delicious. and vegan of course. i'm actually entering them into the DC state fair cupcake contest next weekend so right now i'm making a test batch for my friend's going away party.

the recipe used for this cupcake is adapted from the chocolate red velvet cake recipe in "ExtraVeganZa." the recipe calls for a cup and a half of of beets that are boiled and then blended with the water it was boiled in to make a creamy beet sauce. this is for the cake batter, which is what makes the cake so moist. for this part i'm using beets from my garden (local and organic!)

beets from my garden

beets blended with beet stock water

it also calls for beet powder, which is possible to make on your own, but it takes a really long time and requires more beets than i had in my garden, so i bought beet powder online instead. i couldn't find any in the stores nearby so i bough it online at the spice barn. i know, it seems crazy to mail order ingredients for a cupcake, but trust me its worth it.

beet powder from spice barn

dry ingredients for cake batter

dry ingredients mixed with wet and blended beets

after the cupcakes are cooked, i topped them with a chocolate ganache frosting. this is adapted from the "vegan with a vengeance" cookbook.

cupcakes topped with chocolate ganache

after adding the chocolate ganche, i let them chill in the fridge to set and then iced with "creamy fuchsia icing," also from ExtraVeganZa. this frosting is made creamy with the help of some cashew butter, and its colored fuchsia with a few teaspoons of beet powder (yay i get to use my mail order spices again!).

for the final topping, i made candied beets and sprinkled them on top of the cashew frosting with some chocolate powder. the candied beets are made by chopping the beets very finely and then boiling them in a little bit of water and sugar. once all the water dissolved i added more sugar, cooked it a little longer on low just to dry it out completely.

and that's all! here they are, the 4 topping cupcake...

can't be beet chocolate cupcakes

vegan chocolate beet cupcakes topped with a chocolate ganache, cashew cream frosting and candied beets

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

so many uses for sunflowers

sunflowers are here and they make everything look happier. one of the many great things they are good for. they also provide many sunflower seeds in one head, which is good for harvesting and eating, or for forgetting to harvest and watching the birds enjoy. and you can save the seeds to plant again next year, like on the international sunflower guerrilla gardening day! (may 1)

last year i grew 6 "grey mammoth" sunflowers and harvested 6 cups of sunflower seeds (and they really are mammoth-- about 10ft or more). i had plenty of seeds to plant in the garden, give to friends and family, and also to eat.

sunflower starting to bloom

to harvest sunflower seeds:
- wait till the flower pedals start to fall off the plant while its still in the ground
- then cut off the head of the sunflower, leaving yourself about 6-12" from the end of the head
- hang the head upside down by the stalk and let it dry out for 2 weeks
- after its dry, brush of the little flower bristles (not really sure what to call them) and you'll see all the seeds underneath
- then gently pull out the seeds by brushing your finger along the sides to push them out.
make sense kind of? see pictures below.

sunflower heads after being dried out for 2 weeks

the sunflower "bristles" that need to be brushed off to get to the seeds

lots and lots of sunflower seeds packed into one head

my mum's garden in NY from the sunflowers point of view

but there's also another great thing about sunflowers, and that's the stalks. they are very big and strong and they dry really well. last year i saved my sunflower stalks, dried them, and then used them as my snow pea trellis/tripod this year.

3 dried sunflower stalks with string wrapped around them to make a trellis

if the sunflowers were also the type that produce sunchokes, or Jerusalem artichokes, then you could eat the roots like a tuber or make flour. if you've ever seen pasta made with Jerusalem Artichokes, that's what it is, sunflower roots. i think i'll try that for next year, but for this year i have a ton of great seeds to work with. maybe i'll try to make sunflower oil?