Melon Cupcakes with Matcha-Melon Frosting (Vegan, Gluten-free)

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I make cupcakes because coming up with new combinations for a format you totally understand is a dream come true for a foodie, they photograph wonderfully and my cake decorating skills are not up to snuff on whole cakes just yet. I love the way these look – kind of old fashioned with the green and red colour combination, yet with an entirely modern flavour!

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When I worked at Starbucks many years ago, I learned exactly two things: I cannot work for a corporation and matcha is traditionally paired with a melon flavour. I used one of these life lessons in coming up with this really EXCITING cupcake. I’m also really close to finally perfecting a vegan vanilla cupcake – which you may or may not know is my culinary nemesis. More on that when I get there, though.

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These are a light and moist cupcake with a POW KABLAM from boozy frosting. If you don’t like or use alcohol, you can sub a melon syrup for the liqueur.  No worries, though, the frosting definitely tastes of matcha buttercream and not shots (shots shots shots)! 

1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/2 cup firm silken tofu
Juice of half a lemon
1 1/3 cup all purpose gluten free flour (mine)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 non-dairy margarine, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 teaspoon good quality vanilla
1/4 cup Midori liqueur

In a blender, whiz together the non-dairy milk and firm silken tofu and whiz again, until combined and no solid tofu bits remain. Add the lemon juice, blitz one more time and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Add liners to the cupcake tins. In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together. Using a hand or stand mixer, add the non-dairy margarine one piece at a time. Add the oil and mix until the mixture starts to look like wet sand, or little clumps have formed. Add the milk mixture and stir to combine. Finally, add the liqueur and mix until the mixture is smooth. I haven’t been able to over mix this – the air just allows for a lighter texture with what tends to be heavy and dry (Vegan = heavy; gluten-free = dry). Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes, until the tops have achieved a golden brown hue. Set aside to cool completely.

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Melon-Matcha Frosting

1 cup non-dairy margarine, softened
5 cups icing sugar
2 teaspoons matcha powder
1/4  teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
1/2 cup Midori liquer

Using a hand or a stand mixer, whip the non-dairy margarine on high speed for at least 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, matcha, and one cup of icing sugar, beating for an additional 2 minutes.  Add the remaining powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time with a splash of the Midori in between. Alternating between the powdered sugar and small amounts of the liqueur is the key to not having this frosting separate on you. Once the frosting is fluffy, pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Top with a raspberry.

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Mason Jar Maple Apple Cranberry Cobbler (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

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Confession: I ate one of these straight out of the oven and burnt my tongue. It was worth it. And everyone knows mason jars make everything look more delicious. If you don’t want the trouble of individual servings and a palate of tiny mason jars, please just put this in a regular old 9 x 13 baking dish.

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For a better texture, I peel half the apples. Do what you will. I live in Quebec, so maple products are available at every turn. If you’re not so lucky, sub in equal parts brown sugar where maple syrup and maple sugar come up.

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Makes six-125ml servings

Fruit Bottom

4 Granny Smith apples, cored, half peeled and sliced thin
1 1/2 cups cranberries, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons gluten free flour (mine)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons non-dairy margarine, cut into 12 equal pieces

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare apples and cranberries. Toss in a large bowl with flour and sugar, making sure all the fruit is evenly coated. Add maple sryup, cinnamon, vanilla and water and stir. Divide evenly between 6 mason jars. The fruit will make a mountain in each jar, but relax – this cooks down a tremendous amount. Place the fruit-filled mason jars on a baking sheet and dot each one with two pieces of margarine. Bake for 20 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the topping:

Topping

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Someone was curious…

1/2 cup gluten free flour
1/2 cup maple sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons non-dairy margarine, softened
2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Cinnamon sugar, to taste

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Using a fork, incorporate the margarine until the mixture looks like oatmeal. Add the milk and lemon juice and mix until relatively smooth. Once the 20 minutes are up for the fruit filling, add a scoop of the topping to each mason jar and put back in the 350 F oven for an additional 20 minutes, or until the cobbler topping is golden brown and springs back at your touch. Serve warm with non-dairy ice cream, whipped cream or on its own.

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Lavender Cupcakes with Lavender-Blueberry Buttercream (Gluten-Free and Vegan)

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Sometimes inspiration comes from the tiniest places. I found miniature and adorable Easter-themed cupcakes liners a couple months ago, which led me to want to make Easter-themed tiny cupcakes, which led a million ideas of what that means. I settled on lavender because it is a lovely and underutilized flavour and the pastel colour is perfect for spring.

Lavender has several culinary complements but I wanted to keep it simple and use berries so I wouldn’t strangle the delicate flower bud with something like ginger. I hoped to get a wonderful purple colour out of my buttercream without the need for food dye and so I arrived at blueberries. Excellent.

There are very few times I am 100% satisfied with the results of my culinary adventures. This is one them. These are so lovely. I threw technique I know about baking, vegan baking and gluten-free baking and I poured them into this. Please enjoy.

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Makes 12 large or 30 miniature

Lavender Cupcakes

1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons food-grade lavender flowers
1/2 cup firm silken tofu
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 cup all purpose gluten free flour (mine)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 non-dairy margarine, cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons good quality vanilla
1/4 cup Earl Grey tea, brewed and cooled to room temperature (non-dairy milk, if you prefer)

In a blender, whiz together the non-dairy milk and lavender flowers for about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of firm silken tofu and whiz again, until combined and no solid tofu bits remain.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Add liners to the cupcake tins. Set aside in a small mixing bowl and whisk in the apple cider vinegar. In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together. Using a hand or stand mixer, add the non-dairy margarine one piece at a time. Add the oil and mix until the mixture starts to look like wet sand, or little clumps have formed. Add the vanilla, lavender-milk-tofu mixture and Earl Grey tea and mix until fully combined. Using a spoon or a small ice cream scoop add one scoop to each miniature liner. If using a regular sized cupcake tin, add fill each liner about 2/3 full. Bake miniature ones for 20 minutes. Bake regular sized ones for 25 – 28 minutes, or until they spring back at your touch. Let cool on a rack.

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Lavender-Blueberry Buttercream

1 cup non-dairy margarine, softened
1 teaspoon lavender flowers, crushed
4 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
1/2 cup blueberries

Using a hand or a stand mixer, whip the non-dairy margarine and crushed lavender flowers on high speed for at least 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and one cup of icing sugar, beating for an additional 5 minutes. In a food processor, add the blueberries and a scoop of the frosting mixture and pulse until well combined and all the blueberry has been blended. The blueberry may separate a bit from the frosting at this point, but have no worries it will come together beautifully. Add the remaining icing sugar in several batches, making sure to whip for another 5 minutes total. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes in desired form.

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Strawberry Apple Crisp

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Fruit desserts are the epitome of deliciousness to me. Maybe I have nothing revolutionary to add to the apple crisp world, but goodness gracious this is lovely. I don’t know about you, but the plethora of popular gluten free blogs that make regular use of oatmeal really gets me fired up and mad. I can’t eat oatmeal. It makes me sick. Even the certified wheat free stuff. Maybe you’re the same. In addition, husband is allergic to oats. If you are, take heart and try quinoa flakes. They, so far, have been completely interchangeable for me. You may notice a slight herbal edge to them, which I happen to think is quite lovely. I’ve been using them cup-for-cup in my old oat recipes, so go ahead and use oatmeal, if you’d rather. This would be a perfect recipe to use frozen strawberries in; I wouldn’t even slice them.

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Makes one 9 x 13 baking pan

Fruit Bottom

2 lbs strawberries, hulled, cleaned and sliced large
6 medium apples, something not too sweet, I used MacIntosh, cored and sliced
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon all purpose gluten free flour
Juice of half a lemon

Crisp Topping

1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes
1 cup all purpose gluten free flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup non dairy margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Toss sliced fruit with all ingredients and lay out in a 9 x 13 baking dish. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the topping, except the melted margarine. Once the dry ingredients are well mixed, add the melted margarine and stir.

Press the topping over top the fruit and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with non-dairy ice cream or on its own.

Rainbow Cake (Gayke)

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A month to the day to that I moved to Montreal and in with my best friend, he passed away suddenly. He was always on the lookout for fun, let me tell you. We fought light-heartedly about everything, including his obsession with fun.  In honour of him and everything we had, I make a rainbow cake for every birthday of his that passes. Maybe you have a desire to make a cake that knocks people off their feet but don’t want to learn fancy piping techniques? Well, here you go.

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This cake is moist, scented with orange (because I just couldn’t fathom eating any more vanilla cake; I don’t have a vegan recipe that I really LOVE just yet) and probably the most exciting cake you could ever cut into. It can be prepared as I did, as cupcakes or in 6 separate layers (as I have done in the past). I am currently working to develop a lighter version of a vegan vanilla cake, which often times feels impossible. If you’re just starting out vegan baking, I really don’t recommend you start with vanilla – go for almost anything else. As it stands, people love this cake – I’m just fussy and forever striving for more, better, perfect… On the other hand, I have made the perfect buttercream. Yep.

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I’m torn between appreciating the separate layer approach and the unique never-the-same-twice look of the swirls I did this year. They are absolutely equal amounts of work, though you may finish baking faster if you go with the latter look. Make with regular old wheat flour, if you’d like. All my baking is set up to work both ways.

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Rainbow Cake

Adapted from Chef Chloe’s Raspberry Tiramisu Cupcake recipe

1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used a combo of rice and soy; it was just kicking around my fridge)
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (go high quality, I beg you)
3 cups all purpose gluten free flour (Mine, sifted)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of one naval orange
3/4 cup non-dairy margarine, chilled and cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line each round cake pan you are going to be using with parchement. I did two layers, so two pans. You’re doing 6 layers, so 6 pans (or as many as you have and be prepared to repeat this process as needed).

In a small bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk and vinegar. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and zest, until thoroughly combined. Using a hand or stand mixer, add the pieces of margarine, one at a time and with relative patience, until the mixture has the texture of wet sand (hopefully not the colour because that’d be weird). Add the vanilla extract to your milk mixture and then slowly, while still mixing on low, add the liquid to the dry. Mix until incorporated, checking to make sure the side and bottom of the bowl have been taken care of. Now mentally prepare yourself for some arts-and-crafts!!

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Most recipes will tell you to have six same size bowls and to divide the batter evenly between them. If you are lucky enough to have six same-size mixing bowls, please go ahead and do that. I live in an apartment with no counter or accessible cupboard space, so this is impossible. I took three bowls and divided half the mixture evenly between them. Starting with indigo, I dyed the first layer using red and blue food colouring. Pour the indigo layer into the pans you are using. The batter is pretty thick, so I spread it out evenly and smoothly with the back of a tablespoon. Repeat the dying and spreading of the batter until you have covered the rainbow. 

Protip: Reuse the same bowl for colours that use the same primary colour. Example: My yellow bowl easily became the orange bowl with more batter and few drops of red. 

If you have made a swirly layer cake, bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. For a six layer cake, bake for about 15 minutes. Let cool and prepare your frosting.

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Vanilla Bean Frosting

1 1/2 cups non-dairy margarine, softened
1 vanilla bean, scraped
3 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk 

Get your mixers ready. Using a hand mixer and great strength or a stand mixer, whip the margarine for about 5 minutes. It will become like satin and take on a lighter colour. Add the vanilla bean and mix an additional minute. Slowly begin adding the icing sugar. Add the vanilla extract and splash of the milk. Finish off the icing sugar and mix for another 5 minutes. Taste and add more milk, if you feel the frosting is too dry.

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Assembly

When the layers have completely cooled, frost with a crumb coat. Let that set and frost to your heart’s desire. Allow people to drop at your feet because of your brilliance with food colouring.

To my darling Kyle, we’ll keep the fun and rainbows in life, sometimes only because we must.

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Tiramisu Cupcakes

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People, I am SO EXCITED about these. I feel as though they should speak for themselves. I hope they do. I will say that the vanilla spongecake is the lightest and most lovely I’ve ever made. Do these gluten free and no one will know, but by all means, as with all my baking regular ol’ wheat flour works as well as anything. 

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Makes 12

Cupcakes

3/4 cup non-dairy margarine, plus more for greasing cupcake tin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 flax egg
Egg replacer, equivalent to 2 eggs
3/4 cup gluten free flour (Here is mine, as always)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a cupcake tin. In a medium mixing bowl, combine margarine and sugar. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat for about 5 minutes, until light, creamy and airy. You want a lot of air to get into this batter. Add the vanilla and flax egg and egg replacer. Another 5 minutes of beating the batter and you’ll have nearly enough volume. Lastly, add the flour and beat another 5 minutes. 

Using two spoons or a small ice cream scoop divide the batter so you have 12 total. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops spring back when you touch them. Let them cool completely on a baking rack.

Espresso Soak

1/4 cup espresso (single shot), cooled
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (How about this WONDERFUL homemade one????)

Whisk together in a wide bowl. You’re going to be dipping the cupcakes in them, so wide enough for that.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup non-dairy cream cheese
1/4 cup non-dairy margarine
3 cups icing sugar
2 teaspoons coffee liqueur 

Using a hand or stand mixer, in a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and margarine until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the liqueur and icing sugar and beat until combined.

Assembly

Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, cut each in half, horizontally. Quickly dip the insides of both sides in the espresso mixture, pipe as much frosting as you like in the middle and on the top. To finish, dust cocoa powder on top.

Serve with espresso, White Russians, rice milk or whatever you prefer with your pick-me-up desserts.

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Pear Gingerbread Cake

OK, I buy pears and then I don’t want to eat them because I hate them when they’re too ripe. That means I often have to bake with pears but there aren’t many things I know how to do with them. A few weeks back when I preparing to move, I spent a day baking up old ingredients and came up with this fun and pretty use for pear. Pears and ginger are a natural combo. Me and my Le Creuset are inseparable. This cake was born of those two combinations.

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Recipe

Cake

2 1/2 cups all purpose gf flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup black strap molasses
1/2 cup non-dairy yogurt
1 flax egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup hot espresso (double shot)

Topping

4 pears, peeled and sliced thinly
2 tablespoons non-dairy margarine
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).  Grease a 10 inch Le Creuset or skillet. Whisk together flour and spices and salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine oil, brown sugar, molasses, yogurt and the flax egg. Fold liquid mixture into the dry mixture until just combined.  Add baking soda to espresso. Fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared skillet and smooth out the top. Place the pear slices in concentric circles and top with dabs of margarine and brown sugar and ginger, if using. Bake for about one hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve however you like.

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