Coconut Lemon Cloud Cupcakes

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Fluffy, bright, dainty. Not always what I go for in a dessert – I often lean towards rich, nutty, and chocolatey. But this fantasy of a dessert popped into my head on a day when the sky was bright blue with clouds, and fresh with an Albertan breeze. Lemon and coconut pair here for a delightful treat reminiscent of sunshine and puffy clouds.

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The frosting will bring you to tears of joy – similar in texture to cream cheese frosting, but with a zip and coconut taste that you’ll love. The secret is to use full-fat coconut cream, and put the can in the fridge for at least an hour beforehand, so that the fatty part separates well away from the runny water.

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My recipe also tucks a little pocket of sunny yellow lemon curd into the centre of the cakes. You’ll make more than you need, so store the rest in the fridge to spread on toast or scones the next morning. Yum!

Coconut Lemon Cloud Cupcakes

An original recipe by Agent Minty

Makes 12 frosted cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 3 Tbsp + 1 tsp melted coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp white shortening
  • 1 cup ultrafine sugar (take regular sugar and zip for a minute or less in a blender or clean coffee grinder)
  • 1 1/2 tsp powdered egg replacer + 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp non-dairy milk

Lemon Curd:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup +1/4 cup water
  • 4 tsp arrowroot powder
  • 2 tsp Bird’s custard powder (or 2 tsp corn starch + 1/4 tsp turmeric, though not quite as good)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp margarine

Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp margarine
  • 1/3 cup + 2 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch salt
  • 6 Tbsp full-fat coconut milk

Instructions:

Make the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cream together coconut oil and shortening until smooth.
  3. Beat in sugar until fluffy.
  4. Add in egg replacer mixture, lemon zest, and vanilla, beat for about one minute.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and side, and salt.
  6. In a cup, combine lemon juice and milk.
  7. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the mixer, beat briefly until mostly incorporated, then add half of the milk mixture and mix.
  8. Continue alternating flour and milk until all is mixed in. Scape down bowl and mix briefly.
  9. Divide mixture between 12 lined cupcake tins.
  10. Bake in the centre of the oven for 18 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  11. Remove cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least one hour.

Prepare the lemon curd:

  1. Combine sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small saucepan, and heat on medium.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup of water plus arrowroot and Bird’s powder. Once powders are well-mixed, add remaining water to mix.
  3. Bring sugar-juice mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently.
  4. Quickly mix up starch mixture again, and slowly pour into the simmering juice, stirring as it is added.
  5. Keep stirring juice mixture until it starts to thicken and become slightly shiny, about 3 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in margarine.
  7. Place plastic wrap on surface of warm mixture to prevent a skin from forming.
  8. Cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator until surface of curd is cool to the touch.

Prepare the frosting:

  1. Cream together coconut oil and margarine.
  2. Beat in 1/3 cup icing sugar, lemon juice, and salt until creamy.
  3. Alternate adding 1/3 of the remaining icing sugar, 1/2 of the coconut milk, beating between each addition until smooth.
  4. Continue adding icing sugar and milk until it is all incorporated and well-mixed.

Assemble cupcakes (See pictures below):

  1. Using a melon baller or small knife, remove a 2 tsp-sized scoop from the top of each cupcake. Keep removed bits.
  2. Fill holes most of the way with lemon curd (about 1 1/2 tsp)
  3. Cut off all but top 1/4-inch off of removed cake bits and place back over holes in cupcakes, like a lid.
  4. Frost cupcakes with coconut icing – I recommend piping it on so that the pocket of lemon curd isn’t disturbed.
  5. Store cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to three days.

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Dream Date Cookies

As the stores are already littered with Valentine’s Day displays, memories come to mind of my childhood ideas about what “romance” meant. Flowers, dinners in fancy restaurants, and, for some bizarre reason, having a date who would appreciate it when I wore pantyhose (I think I associated it with being grown up). And of course the mysterious lover would be attractive, sweet, think I was funny.

I did and up marrying someone I love, who is sweet, beautiful, and has a sense of humour. Sure, flowers and fancy dinners happen sometimes, but the love and romance stems from more than that. Coming home during a stressful week and her playing an album on the stereo that I told her I’ve been thinking of for a while. Picking up her favourite candy when I’m out running errands. Taking the time to learn about and become interested in each others’ hobbies. After nearly a decade, love still isn’t boring. Making cookies for each other helps, too.

Dream Date Cookies (4 of 5)

These cookies could be described as a cross between chocolate shortbread and a trail mix cookie, with lots of chocolate flavour. Share them with whomever you love.

Dream Date Cookies (5 of 5)

Double-Chocolate Dream Date Cookies – An original recipe by Agent Minty

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated coconut
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup soft margarine
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp egg replacer + 2.5 Tbsp water, mixed well
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates (cheap ones are fine)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Process rolled oats in a blender or food processor until they are a coarse, uniform flour (think bran flake size).
  3. Combine oat flour in a bowl with salt, flour, coconut, cocoa, and baking powder.
  4. Cream together margarine, brown sugar, and white sugar.
  5. Add in vanilla and “egg” and beat until fluffy.
  6. Mix in dry ingredients.
  7. Stir in chopped dates and chocolate chips.
  8. Drop in 2-Tbsp piles on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for 12 minutes in the middle of the oven, rotating sheets halfway through.
  10. For best texture, cool completely before eating.

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Goldilocks oatmeal muffins

Making the perfect oatmeal muffin has been quite a challenge for me.

Stack of oatmeal muffins

I want it to have a little texture, but not be too coarse. I tried several variations on my original recipe, each one being disappointing for different reasons: Too sweet, too dense, or too rough. I felt like Goldilocks raiding the bears’ muffin stash!

Muffin on a plate with jam

Finally I’ve struck my ideal: fluffy, oaty, and not-too-sweet. Perfect with jam for dessert or with peanut butter for a snack at work. Pulsing the oats in the blender at the beginning gives these muffins a finer texture without sacrificing fibre or oat flavour.

Milled oats

These are also relatively high in protein, but aren’t too calorie-dense. For those of you who are into that sort of thing, one muffin has approximately 140 calories, 6g fat, 4g protein, and 5g sugar. Compare that to a Nature Valley trail mix bar, which has 140 calories, 4g fat, 2g protein, and 12g sugar. But enough about nutrition, as I don’t purport to be a healthy living blog, just a blog with delicious, wannabe-vegan recipes.

Muffins and apple on lunch sack

A few more technical notes about these muffins:

1. Even with the nutritional info listed above, these are lower fat than traditional muffins. I have found that muffin recipes with less than 1/4 c fat will stick to paper liners once they have cooled, so I would recommend just spraying your tin and pouring in the batter directly.

2. These muffins do have a coconut aroma, which is how I can get away with so little sugar. I know at least one person who hates coconut (hi Lia!), and have subbed out coconut oil for canola or olive oil in other recipes with a fair amount of success. Since canola doesn’t have the same melting point as coconut oil, I would recommend 1 Tbsp of melted margarine of butter and 2 Tbsp of liquid oil. If you do this you may wish to up the white sugar content by 1-2 Tbsp.

muffin batter in tins

3. You really do want to stir these muffins more than most recipes. The oatmeal needs to hydrate before baking, and if you stir just until mixed/slightly lumpy like with traditional muffins, you will get very uneven batter and resultantly clumpy muffins.

 

OK, long spiel aside, here we go:

 

Goldilocks oatmeal muffins – An Agent Minty original recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant), pulsed in the food processor until fine
  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • 2 Tbsp brown rice protein powder (if you don’t have protein powder, use more almond meal)
  • 2 Tbsp almond meal
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup almond milk or other milk of your choice
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Instructions:

  1. Pulse oats in a blender.
  2. Add all other dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine lemon juice and milk, stirring until the milk curdles.
  4. Microwave for about 30 seconds so that the milk mixture is not very cold. Otherwise the coconut oil will harden when added.
  5. Add remaining liquids, stirring briefly.
  6. Pour liquid mix onto the dry ingredients.
  7. Stir gently but thoroughly until no dry lumps remain and the batter is smooth.
  8. Sit at room temperature for 10-20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400F.
  9. Divide batter between greased muffin tins.
  10. Bake in centre of oven, rotating once, for 18 minutes. If you prefer muffins that are crispy on the outside, bake for 20 minutes.