First, I want to address all of the individual texts, gchats and conversations that resulted from my last post. The general consensus was “That’s exactly what I need!” – mainly a list to go to the grocery store with. More than one person asked me to be their personal Whole Foods tour guide. Many people never heard of some of the the items I listed, or if they did, weren’t sure how to use them. My list, although long, was still pretty concise. I didn’t provide too much information on each item, only the basics, but I hope to write more about each one in the future, with meal ideas, recipes, reviews, etc. One of my goals for this blog was to learn about different foods I’m not currently eating and how to incorporate them into my meals – essentially to add to my list and cooking/baking repertoire.
So, last week I got this ‘great’ idea to try and make a chocolate cupcake with a pretzel bottom. I thought it would be sort of like a chocolate covered pretzel, combining sweet and savory. I got inspired when I received a coupon email from one of the 15 discount email chains I’m signed up for (this is only a slight exaggeration). This one was hawking some monster (but not vegan) cupcakes. If the coupon is about food, it doesn’t matter, I just have to look. One of the cupcakes had a crushed pretzel bottom and I wanted it. The featured cupcake was made with butterscotch cake and frosting, but I thought chocolate with a crushed peanut topping would work way better.
So I began thinking of how I’d make the pretzel bottom. Just crushed pretzels? Did I need to somehow bind them together before I added the batter? With butter? Agave? These thoughts crossed my mind, but I decided to just crush them up, add them to the cups and see what happened:
|Color-coded and everything.
On the left is the ‘experiment’ group and on the right is the ‘control’ group. Yes, I am that big of a nerd. I wanted to make sure that if the pretzel bottomed cupcakes were a total bust, I’d at least have half the batch to serve.
Next, I whipped up the cupcake batter. A friend had given me a box of Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil’s Food Cake Mix, so I wanted to try it out. Some mixes have a lot of added sugar so I don’t really use them, but this is dessert so I guess it’s okay once in a while. I replaced the butter and eggs the box called for with Earth Balance and Ener-G egg replacer. Worked like a charm, and as far as the cake portion was concerned, I thought it came out really well – super moist and very tasty. My taste-testers agreed, but they did say that it was a little denser than an average cupcake. I wasn’t too surprised to hear this though, I’ve found this with many GF baked goods.
The pretzels on the bottom however….well they didn’t turn out exactly how I planned. The worst part was how soggy they got and then how they sort of disappeared into the bottom of the cake and didn’t really stick together at all. I think if I try this again I will definitely have to make a firmer pretzel ‘base’ and then add the cake on top. Besides, adding butter or agave to a recipe never hurt it…
Then I made some of Averie’s Raw Vegan Chocolate Mouse for the frosting. This isn’t exactly a traditional frosting, but most frosting (vegan or not) is made with cups of confectioner’s sugar and I wanted to use a healthier option. I’ve made this mouse before and found it to be pretty thick and very chocolaty. Not to mention its also the complete opposite of regular frosting on the health spectrum – the main ingredient is avocados!!! This was actually what impressed my friends the most – how equally delicious and healthy the frosting was! The recipe calls for 2 avocados, half a cup of agave syrup, quarter cup of cocoa powder and some vanilla extract. Just add everything to the food processor and blend.
In the end, the control group totally came through for me, and I used the mouse and peanuts to top the cupcakes:
Not a total failure, but not exactly the pretzel-bottomed masterpiece I was hoping for. Maybe next time!
Also this week, my step-sister sent me this great article about gluten intolerance from the WSJ. This article is so on point, at least for me personally, and it’s encouraging to see that more time and research is being spent on finding out about this. While I don’t have celiac, I still experience many of the symptoms listed and choose to consume as little wheat and gluten as a result. Many are told that if they don’t have celiac there’s nothing wrong, but that’s just not the case. Thanks, Lauren!!