It’s a holiday weekend so why not spend your day off (er, “day on”) by making something fun and delicious? Yesterday Mr. R and I had a cupcake bake-off, he with a most rich and decadent chocolate ganache recipe, I with a health-ified, veganized version from The Kind Diet.
How would they compare?
Recipe One: Georgetown Cupcake’s Chocolate Ganache Cupcake
Georgetown Cupcake is the overpriced, over-hyped cupcakery of TLC reality show fame. Spare the $3 per cupcake and make them in your own kitchen. If you like chocolate, you need to try these.
They are kind of ridiculously rich, the cake is perfectly moist, and the icing — well, can you really go wrong with ganache?
I won’t bother re-typing the recipe as it is available here, but I will add a few pointers (that I have learned the hard way myself):
-Always use high-quality ingredients. With cupcakes like these, do you really want to skimp? Choose the highest-quality vanilla, chocolate and flour possible.
-Always sift dry ingredients together through a fine sieve, no matter what the recipe, before mixing in wet ingredients.
-Check that your leavening agents (baking powder, soda) are as fresh as possible, otherwise you will not get an adequate rise.
-Speaking of which, leaveners don’t necessarily work together arithmetically — don’t assume you can just double or halve recipes to get the same results. You can try, but I won’t promise anything…
–Here is a good post about making ganache icing.
Recipe two: Alicia Silverstone’s Favorite Cupcakes
Makes up to 12 cupcakes (made eight for me; I fill them pretty full).
*Note about substitutions: This recipe recommends soy or hemp milk for this recipe, as coconut and almond milks may be too thick, and rice milk too thin. Non-dairy milks do not react with leaveners in the same way that real milk does, thus the addition of ACV.
**Also note that soy has estrogenic properties and its production is harmful to the environment. Choose organic soy products if possible and consume in moderation. Like with cupcakes.
For the cupcakes:
2/3 cup non-dairy milk of choice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup agave nectar (honey would also work)
1/3 cup safflower oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch fine sea salt
For the icing:
1/2 cup earth balance butter
1/2 cup agave nectar or honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Optional: 1/2 cup soy milk powder
Preheat oven to 325 and line a muffin tin.
Combine the milk and vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for about five minutes, until it starts to bubble. Stir mixture if necessary. Add the agave nectar, oil and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
Gradually combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until mixture is smooth and all lumps are gone.
Pour batter into muffin tins and bake for 18-25 minutes, until cupcakes are springy and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
To make the icing, cream the butter and agave nectar until very smooth. Add the vanilla extract. Gradually add the cocoa powder on low speed.
I found that my frosting was pretty thick at this point, and didn’t really need the soy milk powder, which helps to stiffen the icing. If yours is quite runny and you want it thicker, add the soy powder gradually until you reach desired consistency. I ended up adding a couple tablespoons but didn’t need the full 1/2 cup.
Top with some vegan gummies. Just because they’re fun.
So how did the vegan cupcakes stand up to the ganache cupcakes?
Well, as it turns out, you can’t really compare the two. And nor should you. They serve completely separate purposes. The vegan cupcakes were surprisingly VERY delicious, but at the end of the day, are an entirely different food than the rich ganache cupcakes.
If you want something sinfully delicious, the ganache recipe is a must. But if you want to feel slightly less guilty about your indulgence, definitely try the Kind Diet cupcakes — they were surprisingly satisfying and I found myself still craving them when I woke up this morning (yeahhh….I ate one for breakfast, I won’t deny it). The cake was delicately sweet and moist. I also like that it makes a small batch. Do you really need 20 cupcakes sitting in your kitchen, taunting you all week? No!
But if you’re going to a party and want to impress your friends, bring the ganache.