Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's a Hurricane!....Cupcake!

hurricane irene. what to say, what to say.

so ive been in wilmington for 2 weeks now doing my family medicine rotation. the beach = perfect place to be on a rotation that doesn't work weekends! annnd, august/september = what i THOUGHT was perfect timing too! but of course, the one time im here, hurricane season revs up in NC like it hasn't in almost ten years. in comes hurricane irene.

let me back up for a second. this past monday, wilmington was on tornado watch. bad storms brought about watersprouts (ridiculous!) off the coast. then, tuesday, the east coast had an EARTHQUAKE. what the what! it started somewhere in virginia, a 5.8 quake that was felt "as far south as chapel hill and as far north as new york city." slash people in our wilmington clinic felt it - i sure didn't, but that would be my luck (good or bad depending on how you see it). but still - we, on the east, had an earthquake. yeah yeah west coast, we know you're used to it - get off your high horse, let us quiver in peace.

and then. the hurricane. im staying in the free housing provided by SEAHEC for health professional students rotating in wilmington - and they kicked us out. "by noon friday, please leave," is what they said (more or less). well, where the hell am i supposed to go?? i went home. kicking and dragging the whole 2 hour ride, since it was gorgeous and sunny outside and i hate paying for gas. but it turned out to be the best thing - saw my grandmother who's post-knee surgery, and was home for my uncle's birthday. and of course...

birthday = cupcakes.
birthday + hurricanes = awesomer cupcakes.

i used this excellent new vegan cupcake book sheila bought me (did i mention? i'm continuing on a pseudo-vegan train after the family's 6 week stint. either way, my grandparents don't eat eggs, so this worked out.) i mixed a few recipes since i wanted to make swirly cupcakes. the cake itself is like a swirly ocean spread, with the frosting topping it off like a harmless looking hurricane. not the best piping job, but what do you want from me?

vegan chocolate almond swirl cupcakes (makes 12 regular cupcakes)
(adapted from "vegan cupcakes take over the world" - the golden vanilla and the chocolate vanilla marble)

1 cup almond milk                                                  
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp dark cocoa powder
1/2 tsp royal blue icing color, divided (i used wilton's)
okay. be prepped. this is "harder" than my usual recipes :)
  1. whisk the milk and vinegar together and set aside to let it curdle for a few minutes. 
  2. in the meantime, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a mixing bowl. 
  3. in a separate bowl, beat together the milk-vinegar mix, oil, sugar, and both extracts. 
  4. add dry mix to the wet mix, and stir till the lumps are gone. 
  5. divide the mixture evenly among two bowls*. 
  6. in one bowl, add 1/4 tsp icing color and mix until that vibrant blue color comes through. 
  7. in the other bowl, add cocoa powder and remaining icing color, and stir till combined. this will be a really dark teal color, close to black-ish. 
  8. the hard part! take 2 measuring cups that pour easily, and pour batter from each batch at the SAME time into a lined muffin cup. they'll look like pseudo yin-yangs. 
  9. using a toothpick, swirl. swirl till your hearts content. let the swirl of hurricane clouds and swollen tides inspire you. 
  10. bake at 350F for 20 minutes; remove and let cool completely on a rack.

    * i might even do a little less in the chocolate bowl. the chocolate mix was a lot thicker than the plain one, which caused the dark mix to take over the vibrant blue one while baking. up to you!

awesome right?! pre: the yin-yangs on the left. post: everything else. the "dark teal" chocolate batter looks black, i know. but you'll forgive me, won't you? that one riiiight there... the one that looks like a toppling wave. that's my fave. just wait till they bake up... they are hella gorgeous, like a dark and simmering ocean awaiting the storm. love it!

if that isn't an ocean cupcake, i don't know what is!
non-vegan buttercream frosting
(sorry isa - too lazy to restock on the margarine! after all, i was battling a hurricane.)

1 stick unsalted butter
1 pinch salt
2-3 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk (i stuck with the almond milk)
  1. cream the butter in an electric stand mixer, adding in a pinch of salt. 
  2. slowly sift in powdered sugar, using the milk a tsp at a time in between until you reach that perfect consistency. i had issues with this, hence you'll see the frosting came out kind of cracked. i'd suggest going with 2 cups of sugar, some milk, and then more of both as you see fit. you don't want it too stiff!
to assemble
  1. i used a rose tip, but feel free to experiment with others! pipe hurricanes onto cooled cupcakes. start on one edge and spiral in, leaving space within the swirl. then, starting on the opposite end of the cupcake, spiral the opposite way, filling in the gaps. use a toothpick to make the "eye" of your hurricane, and voila!
gosh these are so pretty. the bottom didn't get swirled as you can tell (will try dragging my toothpick across the bottom more next time!) but its so gorgeous! they'd make great black & white cupcakes, or with any color that tickles your fancy. with any recipe that tickles your fancy. a little time consuming, but def worth it - especially if you don't end up hiding all your hard work with frosting (swirled brunch muffins, anyone?)

there it is - hurricane irene, in all her glory. she looks harmless, doesn't she?
(notice that cracked frosting - make sure yours is not as stiff as mine was! )

hope everyone is staying dry and safe! wish i could share one of these suckers for you to sink your teeth in...

at the rate our NC weather is going though, maybe next time we can have volcano-erupting-lava-pouring-ash-clouding cupcakes.

who knows.

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