Not your grandma’s red velvet cake – Beet red velvet cupcakes

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Underneath the eyeball candies are mini red velvet cupcakes. Not the traditional red velvet of gallons of red food coloring but instead a concoction I experimented with some time back in order to make these healthier and perhaps a bit less toxic. I have had my share of beet-related mishaps – mostly because I cannot seem to apply myself when it comes to the complexities of an electric juicer (and thus spray beet juice across the kitchen before realizing the pitcher is not securely under the spout). Beets make cake batter genuinely and naturally red. Beets do the same with kitchen floors and countertops – be careful.

I was sorry when I delivered these to my office – a colleague got excited, exclaiming how she loves red velvet, but I had to deflate her enthusiasm, announcing that in fact these are beet cupcakes and probably not at all what she was used to/looking forward to.

(Beet) Red velvet cupcakes
3/4 to 1 cup of beet pulp
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon cocoa (unprocessed, natural cocoa powder)

(To make the beet puree, I used a juicer. I peeled four or five beets, threw those into the juicer, which separates juice from pulp. I used the resulting 1 cup of beet pulp and then used some of the beet juice to achieve the right level of liquid – I did not measure this, so it might be a trial and error process for others who attempt this.)

Preheat oven to 350F/175C.

Mix the beet pulp, lemon juice, rice vinegar together.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs, then the vanilla. Add the beet puree mixture.

Sift together dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, cocoa) and mix the dry mixture into the butter-beet mixture alternately with the buttermilk. If the batter is really thick, you can add a bit of the beet juice from the juicing process. You do not want this batter to be too thin, however.

Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes in lined cupcake pans. A toothpick inserted in center of the cupcakes should come out clean. Cool in pan on rack for two or three minutes before removing the cupcakes from the pan and allowing them to cool completely on racks.

Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Ginger cookies with pumpkin spice kisses

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Somehow when you affix a normal chocolate Hershey’s kiss to a peanut butter cookie, as I often do, it does not come out looking like a boob/nipple or at least the nipple part of a baby bottle. But when I made ginger cookies with some specialty, seasonal pumpkin spice kisses, a “boob cookie” is exactly what I got. Did it make them any less yummy? I guess not. A few people did rave about them. I can’t imagine why because the idea of a pumpkin spice kiss sounds disgusting – like a ball of beige-colored wax. No accounting for taste – I only make things sometimes because they are novel.

How to make the ginger cookies yourself?

Recipe:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup water (or more as needed)
1/4 to 1/3 cup of molasses
1/3 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder

Mix dry ingredients together and set aside. Mix butter, molasses, vanilla, grated fresh ginger and water together. (You can use between 1/4 and 1/3 cup of molasses. They have a strong flavor, so you can decide how much to use based on how strong a molasses taste you want to achieve.)

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir by hand. Keep stirring until a dough forms. If it is too dry, add more water, a couple of tablespoons at a time (do not overdo it) until the dough comes together and achieves a very soft clay-like consistency.

You can refrigerate the dough if you wish, but I didn’t.

Preheat oven to 375F. Roll dough in small balls and then roll in sugar. Press the dough balls flat with your hand or with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Bake 9 to 10 minutes.

If you top with kiss candies as I did, you will want to bake these for four or five minutes first, and then get them out, quickly press the unwrapped candies into the tops, put them back in the oven and bake for about four more minutes. These melt easier than their chocolate predecessors, so you don’t want to overdo it.

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