PB&B Vegan Cupcakes

I am currently typing this at the airport terminal as a last-minute attempt to share something with you before I take off for two weeks. Three of us in the department are being sent to a week long statistics summer course at Penn State and the prep has been a scramble. It’s amazing just how many things you can get done before a trip that are not actually on your to-do list. I’ve been very productive and still haven’t managed to write a single word of the report that’s due  upon my return; funny how that happens.

I’m really looking forward to the trip though, and – as a bonus – I’m taking a detour home to Vermont for a week on the way back. It’ll be great to see family and friends again, not to mention my old food haunts and (of course) the climbing gym! 🙂 The hardest part of traveling will definitely be keeping to a strict work schedule the whole time, but once I get into the swing of things writing-wise I can usually churn things out pretty quickly. I just have to start the darn thing. So, enough chatting! Let’s get down to business…

These cupcakes are another miraculous creation by the Post Punk Kitchen and are little servings of peanut-butter-banana heaven…okay, maybe not so little: I love to make my cupcakes in jumbo pans so you’re getting less of a “cupcake” and more of a “personal-sized cake” complete with a small mountain of frosting. However you choose to make this – mini to jumbo to full sized cake – you won’t be disappointed. We all know I’m a bit biased (see Jimmy Carter Smoothy and Buckeye Ice Cream), but even if you’re not a huge peanut butter fan I’m confident that you’ll love these and no one will ever be able to tell their vegan unless you let it slip!

PB&B Vegan Cupcakes

(very slightly adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World!)

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes…

½   C   overripe mashed banana

1¼   C   AP flour

¼   t   baking soda

1   t   baking powder

½   t   salt

¾   C   sugar

1/3   C   vegetable or canola oil

2/3   C   soy, almond, or rice milk*

1½   t   vanilla extract

½   t   almond extract

* Note: I’d recommend them in that order. The soy and almond milks have a creaminess the rice milk lacks and the soy milk will provide a more neutral base.

For the Frosting…

½   C   margarine (Earth Balance is awesome), softened

4   T   shortening

2/3   C   creamy peanut butter**

2   T   molasses

3   t   vanilla extract

1½ – 2   C   confectioner’s sugar, sifted

2 – 4   T   soy milk, more as needed

banana chips, vegan chocolate chips, chopped peanuts for garnish as desired

** Note: Use organic if possible (better flavor) and I love the brands that give you the “just peanuts” option (i.e. no salt , sugar, or added oil). If you’re using peanut butter with added salt, sugar, and/or oil, just omit the salt in the recipe entirely and reduce the amount of oil and sugar to taste.

Procedure:

1) Preheat oven to 350°F (325 if making jumbo) and prep pans with cupcake liners. Blend banana in a food processor or mash with a fork until completely smooth.

2) In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar together and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, soy milk, vanilla extract, almond extract, and mashed banana. Make a hollow in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet banana blend. Fold the wet mixture into the dry until just incorporated (don’t overmix! Small lumps are fine) and fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way. Bake 20 – 25 minutes (35 – 40 for jumbo) or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Completely cool before frosting.

3) In the last 10 minutes of the cupcakes cooling time, whip up the frosting: with an electric mixer, cream together the margarine and shortening until smooth. Add peanut butter, molasses, and vanilla and beat again until very smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat until incorporated – frosting will be very thick! – and taste, add more sugar if desired. Finally, dribble in soy milk while beating until frosting is pale, fluffy, and spreadable.

4) Frost the (completely cooled) cupcakes generously with PB frosting and top with banana chips, chopped peanuts, and/or banana chips as desired. Will maintain their shape without refrigeration (in reasonable temperatures) so these babies also travel well and will keep for 3 days.

Beezer’s Notes:

I’m really stuck now. I can’t decide which I love more: the Cookies ‘n Cream Vegan Cupcakes or these. Both are so good I could easily eat a whole batch alone, but both are two very different flavors… so I guess it’s a tie. These PB&B Cupcakes have a delicious banana-bread like base with a fluffy peanut butter frosting that manages to be packed with flavor without being cloying sweet. I also love the toppings which make the cupcakes fun to eat and add texture. These are definitely going on my favorites list and will be made as often as my workout schedule allows, haha.

Overall Enjoyment:  ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Hummingbird Cupcakes

I’m going to apologize right off the bat for the short post. After a few days of feeling blissfully healthy in the middle of last week, my cold returned with a vengeance and brought with it tinnitus, pressure, extreme sensitivity, and a heat sensation in my right ear. I’ve never had an ear infection before, but something tells me I should go to the University clinic tomorrow…

BUT you don’t want to hear about it and I don’t want to write about it. In fact, I want to take another ibuprofen, crawl back under my comforter, and watch the Oscars online. However, these cupcakes I made at Brad’s request were just so good I feel obligated to share the recipe on time – you just have to know about these! (those of you who’ve known about them for years, feel free to gloat).

I adjusted this recipe only slightly to better suit our tastes. I halved the sugar in the batter and subbed a bit of honey in for confectioner’s sugar in the frosting. The result was an almost savory cake (think banana nut bread with highlights of pineapple) and a just-sweet-enough cream cheese frosting. In fact, I reduce the sugar in the frosting twice: some of my “guinea pigs” reported back that the initial frosting, while yummy, was still a tad too sweet. Keeping in mind that honey is one of the sweetest sugars there is, I reduced the powdered sugar a bit further for the final round of cupcakes given to the birthday boy. He agrees that these are one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever made (rivaling even my Cookies ‘n Cream Vegan Cupcakes) and has already put in an order for next year, haha. 

Hummingbird Cupcakes (adapted slightly from Bake or Break)

*makes 35 normal or 18 jumbo cupcakes *

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes…

3   C   AP flour

1   t   baking soda

1   t   salt

1   C   granulated sugar

1   t   cinnamon

3   large eggs, beaten

1   C   vegetable or canola oil

1½   t   vanilla extract

8   oz.  crushed pineapple w/ juice*

1   C   chopped pecans

2   C   chopped very ripe bananas

finely chopped pecans for garnish

* Note: If you can find an 8 oz. can of crushed pineapple, just dump the whole thing in. If you’re like me and can only find larger sizes, just make sure to include some juice with the pineapple (I did roughly 2 parts pineapple chunks to 1 part juice).

For the Frosting…

8   oz.   cream cheese, softened

½   C   butter, softened

1   t   vanilla extract

1   T   honey

8   oz.   sifted confectioner’s sugar, plus more to taste

Procedure:

1) Preheat oven to 350°F and prep cupcake pans with paper liners (or grease and flour pans if not using liners).

2) In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the eggs and oil, stirring until the dry ingredients are moistened (it will be tough, the batter is very dry here, but just keep stirring until it’s as homogeneously moist as you can make it). Stir in vanilla, pineapple, pecans, and bananas – mushing the bananas as you go to thicken the batter. I left quite a lot of larger chunks in mine because I love lots of texture, but my batter also turned out baking somewhat unevenly. Either mash your fruit up well or be careful how you divvy up the batter.

3) Pour batter into prepared pans, filling cups nearly to the rim (these don’t rise much). Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow cupcakes to cool in pans for at least 5 minutes before removing them to cool completely.

4) As cupcakes are cooling (you want them completely cool before frosting), prepare the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy before adding the honey and vanilla. Add sugar gradually until frosting is light and fluffy. Give the frosting a taste-test (you know you want to) and add more sugar if desired.

5) Once cupcakes have fully cooled, frost them (I’m still using a ziplock freezer-bag, myself) and top with finely chopped nuts. Serve immediately or store in fridge if they have to sit a while or else the cream cheese frosting will turn gooey.

Beezer’s Notes:

When I first bit into one of these hummingbird cupcakes I immediately thought, “Oh man, my mother would LOVE these!” followed quickly by “…and my grandmother…” then “…and my Dad…” and I continued to list off nearly everyone I knew. That’s the magic in these cupcakes: their unique flavor combination of fruity/nutty/sweet-yet-savory can please almost any pallet. While all of the ingredients are key, I’m starting to believe the pineapple provides that secret something that takes the flavor over the top. I kept hearing, “Wow, it’s just like banana bread…but better!” and that’s also given me the idea to make this recipe into mini-loaves next time. Brad ate a cupcake without the frosting and declared it just as good, so there you are. As far as cupcakes go, these cuties are on the healthier side already (what with the fruit base, nuts, and reduced sugar) but bake them up as loaves and serve without frosting if you’re looking to cut back just a bit more.

Overall Enjoyment:   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Cookies ‘n Cream Vegan Cupcakes

I want to let you know just how close I was to not putting the word “vegan” in the title of this post. I really wanted you to look at these cupcakes and judge them as you would any other, without any preconceived notions. In my fantasy, you look at the photos of these beauties and decide to make them immediately. You then somehow neglect to notice the lack of any and all dairy in the recipe, bake up the cakes as normal, and take a huge bite exclaiming, “Mmmph oh mah gwwwd!” through a mouthful of rich chocolate cake and buttery cookie bits. This is where I jump into your kitchen (a bit creepy, I’ll admit) and shout: “…and they’re VEGAN too!”

But, fortunately for you and your right to privacy, my fantasy isn’t reality and I do feel obligated to call these Cookies ‘n Cream Vegan Cupcakes. That said, I hope that if you aren’t familiar with vegan baked goods you’ll trust me and at least give these a shot. My winning argument: since making my initial batch two days ago I have since made two more and have been asked to make another 2 dozen for Easter dinner. Do the math people, that’s 5 dozen cupcakes in just under a week. Only a few of my friends/coworkers are vegan and no one in my family is, so there must be something good about this recipe. 😉

I didn’t tweak the source recipe all that much. After my first round of batter came up short (I got 9 dense cupcakes) I decided to double the amount and forgive any leftovers. This works out well because the source recipe for the “butter”cream yields an extremely generous amount of fluffy topping and covered my second batch of 20 cupcakes perfectly. My second round of cakes also turned out a bit different; they were lighter, airier, but still had that initial rich chocolaty taste. I’m guessing the change had to do with the fact that my first batter was made with the final cup of almond milk I had in my fridge. I’m terrible at remembering to shake the container, so that liquid was probably denser than that used in the second batter which came from a brand-new container. The cupcakes were delicious either way, but I found I liked the lighter ones more. Finally, I experimented with adding peppermint extract to the frosting and mint-flavored Newman-O’s to create a mint cookies ‘n cream version.

Cookies ‘n Cream Vegan Cupcakes

(adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Moskowitz and Romero)

Ingredients:

For the Cakes (makes ~ 20)…

2   C   almond milk

2   t   apple cider vinegar

1½   C   granulated sugar

2/3  C   canola oil

2   t   vanilla extract

2   C   flour

2/3   C   cocoa powder

1½   t   baking soda

1   t   baking powder

½   t   salt

For the Frosting…

½   C   non-hydrogenated shortening

½   C   non-hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance is great if you can find it)

3½   C   confectioner’s sugar, sifted if clumpy

¼   C   vanilla almond milk

1½   t   vanilla extract

½   t   peppermint extract

2 – 3 drops green food coloring, if desired

10   crushed vegan chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies, divided*

10   whole cookies, halved

* Note: Newman-O’s are vegan and can be found in the organic section of most grocery stores. I used 5 of the original vanilla flavor for the vanilla frosting and 5 of their Hint ‘O Mint flavor in the mint frosting, but I’m a little obsessive. With the peppermint extract already in the mint frosting, feel free to just use the regular vanilla flavor in both mixes for simplicity.

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line 2 cupcake pans with liners (I needed about 20). Whisk together the almond milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside to curdle.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Go back to the liquid mixture and add to it the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract. Beat the liquid mix until foamy, then slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet a little at a time to avoid clumping.
  3. Using a large tablespoon or scoop (I am a firm believer in cookie dough scoops now!) fill the liners about 2/3 of the way full with batter. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  4. While cupcakes cool beat the shortening and margarine together until light and relatively airy. Add the sugar and beat a few minutes more. Add the almond milk and vanilla extract and beat until fluffy. Now, at this step, if you want ONLY vanilla frosting simply add all of the crumbled cookies and fold them in with a spatula. Otherwise, divide up the frosting and add the peppermint extract and food coloring to one of the halves – beating until incorporated. Then divide the crumbled cookies equally among the two bowls and fold in until well combined.
  5. Once cupcakes have completely cooled (you can even save the frosting overnight in the fridge if you’d like, just allow it to return to room temperature before trying to work with it) top with a generous scoop of frosting and a cookie half, alternating vanilla and mint flavors as you desire.


Beezer’s Notes:

Do I have you convinced yet? I hope so. These cupcakes are well worth your time, and I completely understand that you do not have a lot of it to spare. And, yes, I know “vegan” does not necessarily mean “healthy”. I’m not trying to tell you that these bombshells are actually good for you – well, good for your soul maybe as they will rock your world from first bite to last crumb – but I honestly think vegan cupcakes just taste better! They have a lighter, cleaner taste that doesn’t compromise flavor. My mother said she particularly loved the mint version of these because the subtle cool peppermint went well with the light cake and sweet, fluffy frosting. Plus, even if these aren’t exactly good for you, they ARE lower in hydrogenated fats and cholesterol which is slightly less evil. If made to choose I’d eat a dozen of these in one sitting over a dozen traditional cupcakes…maybe even if I wasn’t made to, haha.


Overall Enjoyment:   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

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