Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sweet Chocolate and Tart Cherries

One of the guaranteed side effects of being hit with huge assignments for a boring class is apathy spreading through the populous. I’m easily one of the least invested students in our current courses – pathology is really just not that entertaining, and between rehashing ancient material and telling us flat out not to expect high marks on our papers the prof is not exactly doing anything to stimulate full attention. But, marks are marks, and we still have to show up, so I try to give people a little sweet incentive not to leave me sitting in class alone!

Like I’ve said before, the bulk of students at school are vegans, and more often than not there are other accessory allergies floating around in addition to those who avoid milk, eggs and meat for personal reasons. The one thing absolutely all of us have in common is the “ugh” factor of Mondays, the anticipation of the vegan, gluten free lunchtime soups (yay, Stella!), the knowledge that the girls’ two-stall bathroom will almost never be empty, and the pure love of food. Chocolate is always a plus too – one of my classmates performed an “information” presentation on that heavenly substance complete with samples (!!). Somehow I don’t recall the tiny nibbles she passed around reaching my table... but no matter. I brought the goods last week and even with 28 of these chocolate and cherry mini-cupcake bombs there still wasn’t enough to go around! It’s a nice feeling to see two people going “halfsies” on a tiny two-biter, then pop into your classroom and ask for the recipe... that’s my kind of Monday.

Aside from being vegan, these wheat-free cupcakes are also packed with a wealth of flavour and a lack of fat from pureed cherries and cherry juice I made from the last of my bottle of Michelle’s Miracle tart cherry concentrate. I love the flavours of Kamut and oat flours, which are almost buttery in my opinion, and I’ve gotten into the habit of using balsamic vinegar in my chocolate “crazy cakes” for it’s little bit of sweetness. Having coconut sugar and stevia powder on hand, I chose those to sweeten the cake portion, and ground up some sucanat for the slightly bitter cocoa frosting (I added a little agave too). Every little morsel got capped off with a jumbo chocolate chip for good measure! With the need for only one bowl and a food processor I didn’t even have to roll up my sleeves for the dishes!

Saintly Sweet Chocolate - Cherry Cupcakes
Makes 28 mini cupcakes, or 14 regular

Cupcakes
1/2 cup pitted black cherries
3/4 tsp pure stevia powder
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 tbsp olive oil (nothing too flavourful)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup tart cherry juice
1 tbsp egg replacer powder
1/4 cup cool coffee
1 cup Kamut flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

Frosting
2 tbsp vegan shortening/margarine (I like Earth Balance "Buttery" Sticks)
1/2 cup raw cane sugar, ground finely
pinch sea salt
1 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp plain, low fat soy milk
28 vegan jumbo chocolate chips, for decorating (optional)

Cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease 28 mini-muffin cups lightly
  2. In a food processor, puree the cherries, stevia, coconut sugar, oil, vinegar, vanilla and cherry juice until smooth.
  3. Mix together the egg replacer powder and coffee, then add to the processor and blend in.
  4. Add flours, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and pulse in until combined, but don't "whip" it.
  5. Bake mini-cupcakes 15-16 minutes and cool completely in the tins (regular cupcakes take about 22 minutes).
Frosting
  1. In a bowl, beat together vegan shortening/margarine, sugar, salt, agave and vanilla until smooth and fluffy.
  2. Add the cocoa powder and beat in, followed by the soy milk (you may need more or less, add slowly!).
  3. Spread frosting on cooled cupcakes (be careful, they're crumbly!) and top with chocolate chips.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 86.2
Total Fat: 2.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 12.8 mg
Total Carbs: 17.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 1.4 g