Summer!!!!!!!!!!! That is possibly my favourite word. Conjuring up images of warmth and holidays…and ice cream! You know the big problem with ice cream though? It just gets a little too melty a little too fast. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “sticky fingers” (although now maybe you could “legitimately” “accidentally” rob people – robbing them of their ice cream cones of course since you just lost yours. I’m not that evil people (usually 😉 ). It’s definitely not the kind of thing you can bring along on your picnic at the beach. Sure, you can cross your fingers and hope that there’s either a Dairy Queen or some sort of ice cream stand located near or preferably on the beach. But you know what else you could do? Make cupcake versions of your favourite ice cream treats! I did a whole themed month on this a while ago, so this one’s just a new addition to the ice cream turned into baked goods family (feel free to check them out here, here, here and here). Oh cupcakes! *swoon* so much more portable, plus you can feel free to eat them much more slowly since they won’t be melting all over your hands in the hot sun! (although who are we kidding, there’s no way these’ll last that long 😉 ).
These actually came about for Kevin’s dad’s birthday. I asked Kevin to ask his dad what his favourite childhood treat was, and apparently the response was a Strawberry Sundae (who knew? A man after my own heart, as strawberry ice cream was my favourite when I was younger. As an adult, I’ve become more boring, and probably love straight-up vanilla the best. Caveat to that though? When it’s done properly. Which it almost never is, so I usually still opt for something else 🙁 Vanilla is the true test of how good an ice cream brand is in my opinion, there’s no hiding behind other flavours, it’s just all hanging out there for people to see. Continuing with our beach theme here – having it all hang out is fine I suppose if your nude beaches we’re filled with hotties (that word does encompass all gender affiliations right? I’m trying to be political correct here or whatever 😉 ). But, as I’m sure many of you may have experienced, it always seems to be the people who really shouldn’t be going nude ( I totally say good on you to just not care what anybody thinks (seriously), but when we’re talking eye candy (because doesn’t everything link back to desserts), not so much) who do the most “nude-ing” (yeah, it’s a verb now). Linking back to ice cream, you see what I’m saying here. Too many of these ice cream companies have a subpar base flavour which they try and just overpower with cookies and peanut butter and other admittedly delicious mix-ins.
Side note – I love/ can’t believe how many amazing non-dairy ice creams exist nowadays (woah there grandma! Did you just use the word “nowadays”? I’m preemptively ordering you your walker and Alzheimer’s medication as we speak. You clearly need both 😉 ). I ended up hearing about a whole bunch of new (and mostly mainstream…aka available at your local grocery store) brands that were now offering non-dairy versions. The first out of the gate seemed to be Ben and Jerry’s, and the first 3 they released in Canada where scrumdidily-umptious (I especially loved the coffee caramel one). I got excited when I saw they had 3 more new flavours recently, and of course had to purchase them all (*blush*). The coconut almond fudge wasn’t bad, but, surprisingly, the “Peanut Butter Half Baked” was actually really disappointing (and that’s coming from a hardcore PB lover! Maybe it just needed to be more baked? 😉 ). Something about the texture just wasn’t great 🙁 . Then, literally 2 days after I purchased those pints, I found out that Breyers and Häagen-Dazs have non-dairy flavours now too! And they were in my local grocery store! How could I not buy them? I tried to restrict a little here, so only bought one of each flavour (Vanilla Peanut Butter for Breyers and Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge from Häagen-Dazs). I actually typically don’t have high hopes for name brands trying to get on the vegan bandwagon (because they generally don’t have expertise in this area, and the offerings just don’t tend to be as good…too frequently verging on the inedible). In the case of both Breyers and Häagen-Dazs though, all I can say is… NAILED IT! (which also happens to be the name of the worst/ best new Netflix cooking show if you’re ever bored and looking for something to watch. It’s not that great actually, but kind of fun 🙂 ).
Despite the fact that that last paragraph seemed like the biggest advertisement/ sponsored post ever, it totally wasn’t, I just wanted to share my findings (especially for those of you who maybe aren’t vegan and are looking for something to bring to your vegans friends place that doesn’t taste like cardboard and no one actually wants to eat). If any of these brands want to pay me for my endorsements though, I’m totally down with that (or provide free samples, I’m not picky 😉 …oooohhh, or possibly hire me as a taste tester and/ or creator of new flavours 😉 ).
I feel like I’m barely talking about the actual cupcakes in this post, but just look at them – don’t they just speak for themselves? Delicious vanilla cupcakes filled with balsamic chocolate strawberry jam (to grown-upify it a soupçon 😉 ), topped with strawberry cream cheese icing, drizzled with chocolate ganache and sprinkles. And of course, la pièce de resistance, topped with a cherry *swoon*.
So, in case you’re wondering about this photo, for some reason all my photobox pictures of these just looked really weird and off colour, so I was opting to take some photos in natural-ish light. This became almost impossible to do since I was finding myself holding a camera in one hand and fending off one of my cats with the other (but look at that cute little paw, don’t you just want to eat it? Uhhh…you know what I’m saying 😉 ).
Also, did I mention the filling? I was kind of in love with it and definitely didn’t want just a hint inside the cupcakes. I wanted them virtually bursting at the seams with strawberry balsamic goodness (basically the degree to which I always wish doughnut shops would fill their doughnuts. The dough should really just be the vehicle for the filling am I right?).
Thank you for berry-ing with my nonsense for yet another week. And pretty please (with a cherry on top), keep it sweet out there folks!
Yield: 12 cupcakes
- 3/4 cups pastry flour (or AP is OK too, I just prefer pastry flour for cake and cupcakes. Trust me when I say it really does make a difference)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup vegan butter room temperature (i.e. slightly softened)
- 1 egg replacer
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
- 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
- 12 maraschino cherries
- colourful sprinkles
Strawberry Balsamic Filling:
- 1/2 cup strawberry jam
- 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (depending how strong you want the flavour to be)
- 2 tablespoons chocolate liqueur
- 1 cup freeze dried strawberies
- 1/2 cup vegan butter
- 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 325F (170C)
- Line cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
- In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg replacer, and vanilla and beat until fully combined.
- In a couple of batches, alternate mixing in the non-dairy milk and flour mixture. Be careful not to over mix.
- Divide the batter evenly among your prepared cupcake liners (Fill them about 2/3 to 3/4 full). Bake about 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Filling – place all filling ingredients in a small saucepan on the stove and simmer until it return to a jam-like consistency (i.e. not too run. This isn’t an exact science, just use your best judgement). Set aside to cool.
- Frosting – Pulse freeze dried strawberries in a food processor or high speed blender until powdered consistency is achieved.
- In a small bowl beat together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smoothly combine. Beat in freeze dried strawberries. Slowly beat in the icing sugar until spreadable consistency is achieved.
- For the chocolate ganache drizzle, place chocolate in a small bowl. In a seperate small bowl, microwave (or on the stovetop is fine too), bring 1/4 cup non-dairy milk to just barely boiling. Pour over chocolate and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes. Stir until chocolate is fully melted. Allow to cool for 10-20 minutes.
- Once cupcakes are fully cooled, use a butter knife or spoon to hollow out the centre of each cupcake (reserving the top piece of cake to use as a “plug” after) and fill with strawberry balsamic filling. Replace “cap” of cake over the hole. Frost with strawberry frosting. Drizzle with chocolate ganache and sprinkles. Top with a cherry
- Store in the refrigerator.