Feb 2, 2010

A World Without Cancer Is A World With More Birthdays-- New Red Velvet Cupcakes

I have two new recipes that I am really excited to share with you. One is for some very special cupcakes and the other is for fresh pasta! I couldn’t decide which to share first. Then I thought… life’s too short… eat dessert first! So the cupcakes won. Next issue was deciding what to title it.

Option A: Vegetarian cupcakes.
     I’m sure THAT one got your attention! But I think somewhere in the world, a baby cries when these words are said together. ‘Vegetarian Cupcakes’ also makes me think hippie sweat is a main ingredient, which is sometimes hard to find. However the main ingredient that
isn’t so hard to find IS a vegetable. So basically, while I thought this title would grab your attention, I thought it might also trigger your gag reflex.

So I went with Option B: a world without cancer is a world with more birthdays.
     Strikes a different cord than ‘vegetarian cupcakes’ right? These New Red Velvet cupcakes are actually The American Cancer Societies ‘official birthday cake'. The ACS held a contest to find a ‘better for you’ cake to sponsor their movement for more birthdays. This cake isn’t red because of food coloring… its red from beets. Yep... That root vegetable that if you aren’t careful… will make you pee red.

The cause this recipe supports is one very close to my heart. In the past four months, I have lost two too many people I love to cancer. Two less birthdays I will be celebrating this year.  And If they were here to see this, I’m sure their reactions would be something like yours… those cupcakes are made with WHAT?? UHH YUCK! The jokes would be endless and I can guarantee there would be lots of laughter and joy going around. I'm hoping they’ve got wifi up where they are so they can see this <3.

I will admit I was a little skeptical about this recipe.  Could cupcakes made with BEETS really compare to the traditional Red velvet? But as they were transforming from batter to cake in the oven, the kitchen smelled of cupcakes, not root vegetables. And when I took them out, they definitely looked like cupcakes and not root vegetables. I proceeded to inject them with a little chocolate ganache (real chocolate… not a vegetable substitute for chocolate), swirled on some cream cheese frosting and took a very hesitant bite. I chewed. I tasted. I thought. And I realized I actually really LIKED it! The chocolate taste is stronger than any beet flavor, and the tang from the cream cheese frosting helps the flavors balance together very nicely.  My housemates and I all agreed… we could definitely go for another! When you take the last bite of a cupcake, and you have to restrain from grabbing another, that’s when you know its goood!! As for the cream cheese frosting, I had to wash the bowl immediately to avoid licking it clean! 

I really wanted to know what these cupcakes tasted like to people who had no idea what they were made with. I had ten very willing volunteers to help taste test. Most of them thought they were just chocolate cupcakes, with a hint of berries. It wasn’t until I gave them a hint that there was a vegetable in there that they arrived at beets (after several other vegetable guesses)! I was surprised and the cupcakes were thoroughly enjoyed!

A world without cancer is a world with a lot more opportunities to eat cake. There are no certainties in life (take my oven for example… this was the first time it has ever baked something to perfection!!) so eat something sweet everyday  and live each day with laughter and joy. I look forward to my next opportunity to make these cupcakes, wishing I had more. 

This recipe was created by Alexandra Mudry for the American Cancer Society. I made a few of my own adaptations, but your can find the original recipe here.
The taste of this cupcake is very difficult to describe, but its worth giving it a shot and trying it out yourself! It doesn’t taste like your usual super sweet red vel    vet cupcake from that designer bakery you love. It is, after all, a ‘healthier’ cupcake.

New Red Velvet Cupcakes
makes about 18-24 cupcakes

For the Cake:
3 Large or 5 Small Beets (to make 2 c. puree)*
½ c. Applesauce, Unsweetened/Natural
1 c. Granulated sugar
½ c. Canola oil
2 Lg Eggs
2 Lg Egg Whites
3 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, melted
1 tsp. Instant Espresso Powder or Instant Coffee
½ c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 c. All-purpose Flour
¾ c. Whole Wheat Flour
1 ½ tsp. Baking Soda
½ tsp. Salt

* I roasted my own beets, but you can make it a lot easier by buying canned beets. Just make sure they are not seasoned or pickled. Also add about a Tablespoon or more of water and puree it smooth.

To roast the beets: Preheat oven to 375. Trim ends of beets and place on a foil lined baking pan. Drizzle with 1 tbsp. canola oil. Roast until fork tender (about 2 hours). Once cooled peel then place in  food processor (or blender) with 2 tbsp. water. Puree beets until they reach a very smooth and even consistency. (This is important! You do not want chunks of beet in your cupcakes!!!) Set aside.
(You can make this days ahead and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

Preheat oven to 375. Line you cupcake tins with cupcake papers

     Combine oil, eggs, egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed with a paddle attachment for a couple minutes, until smooth and pale yellow.
     Add the tsp. of espresso powder to the melted chocolate and stir until dissolved.
Turn the speed down to low and slowly drizzle the melted chocolate into the mixture. Once the chocolate has been added, turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
     In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa powder, applesauce and beet puree. Add this mixture to the egg mixture. Turn the mixer to medium speed to incorporate, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
     Sift the flours, baking soda, and salt together and  gently fold into the wet mixture (do not over mix or the cake will become tough and dense).
     Pour batter into the cupcake pans and bake for 20-25, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
     Cool and remove from pans.

For the Chocolate Raspberry Ganache

2 oz. heavy cream

1.5 oz. Seedless Raspberry jam (or press through a sieve to remove seeds)
4 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, broken into small pieces

Boil cream in a small pot.
    At the same time, warm raspberry jam in the microwave just long enough to make it warm... not hot!
Once cream has boiled, add the warmed raspberry jam and stir to combine.
     Pour it over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is combined.
    Set ganache aside and allow it to cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
24 oz. (3 pkgs) Reduced Fat Cream Cheese, room temperature

1 ¼ c. Confectioners’ Sugar, sifted
 (measure out 1 1/4 c. and THEN sift it)
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Lightly beat cream cheese and vanilla extract until it is smooth, about 2 minutes.
Stop and scrape down the sides of bowl then add confectioners’ sugar. Cream together until smooth.    Do not overmix or the frosting will become too soft and difficult to spread.

To Assemble:
     Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, cut out a small hole in the top of the cupcake, going almost to the bottom. Then fill the hole with the chocolate raspberry ganache. Or you can use your cleannnn pinkie finger to make a hole and do the same. Then take as much or as little frosting as you like,  frost the cupcakes and enjoy!
     I kept mine in the refrigerator in an air tight container. I think they taste even better the next day!

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