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Friday, February 17, 2017

Single-Serving Vanilla Cupcake (With Video! Or not.)

Oh, hello! How are you? Come in! Hurry! Mind the mockingbird out there, he's a biter. Can I offer you a cup of tea? Maybe a cupcake?

That's a single-serving cupcake. Would you like the recipe? Why bother making one single cupcake, you ask?

I'm glad you asked, for I have made a list of reasons why one might want to go through the trouble of making one single cupcake. I'll take any opportunity to make a list. The possible reasons one might have to make one lone cupcake are as follows.

*clears throat*

1. You are on a diet and you want to have a sweet treat without having to bake a whole batch of cupcakes or an entire cake. If you're anything like me, making an entire batch means eating an entire batch. Or, you may want to make one little treat for someone else who is on a diet.

2. You live with someone who is taking a break from sweet treats but you don't necessarily want to be dragged down that sugar-free hellhole. You don't want to tempt the poor miserable sweet-treat break-taker with a big batch of cupcakes that would probably sit there for days under his or her nose while you leisurely eat them all. This is my reason.

3. You only have a couple of tablespoons of flour left and you are desperate for some cake. It's 3am and you don't feel like putting on pants to drive down to Walmart.

4. You are a tiny little mouse and one single cupcake will feed your entire family of 14 for a couple of days.

5. You have been miniaturized with a shrink ray in a lab experiment gone wrong and one cupcake will last you a week.

6. Why not?

Right. Now that we got that out of the way let's get baking! I bought myself a little toaster oven to make tiny bakes like this one. It's a Cuisinart TO-60. I'll tell you all about my toaster oven buying adventures next time. Let's just say that the Cuisinart was the fifth oven that I tried because I am a picky oven buyer, apparently. Who knew?

Anyway, I made you a recipe video for this one. It's one of those kooky quiet videos that I make for my YouTube channel sometimes. The actual recipe is just below the video if you don't feel like watching it. Rude.

Actually, I made you two videos. One at regular speed and another sped-up version for hyperactive squirrels. I find the cooking sounds of the sped-up video oddly satisfying.





SINGLE-SERVING VANILLA CUPCAKE


2 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 teaspoons vegan milk, divided
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/16 teaspoon salt (a pinch)

1. Preheat your toaster oven or regular oven to 325 degrees F. Spray one paper cupcake liner with cooking spray and place it in a small ramekin or cupcake tin.
2. In a small bowl or cup, whisk together the sugar, powdered sugar, oil, two teaspoons of milk, and vanilla extract. Give it all a really good whiskin'.
3. Sift in the flour and the baking powder. Add the salt and gently stir until the dry ingredients are barely incorporated.
4. Add the remaining two teaspoons of milk and gently stir trying not to overmix the batter. If you watch the video you can see how I sort of push the batter around rather than mixing it too vigorously.
5. Pour the cake batter into your prepared cupcake liner and bake at 325 for 15 minutes.
6. Crank the heat up to 350 and bake for 5 or 6 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. I wouldn't be tempted to check it before it's had a chance to bake at 350 for 5 minutes lest we end up with a deflated cupcake. Let the cupcake cool down to room temperature before frosting it.

Specific baking directions for the Cuisinart TO-60:

Set the "FUNCTION" dial to "WARM" instead of "BAKE" and set the temperature at 325 degrees F. This will keep the oven from toasting your cupcake from the top which would leave you with a dry, cracked cupcake. Once the oven is preheated, bake your cupcake for 15 minutes.

When the 15 minutes are up, switch the FUNCTION dial from WARM to BAKE and crank the heat up to 350 degrees F. Bake your cupcake for 5 or 6 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.

FOR THE FROSTING


1 tablespoon vegan butter, softened
1 tablespoon vegan shortening
1 or two tablespoons of powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine the butter and shortening in a small bowl or cup, the narrower the better, and use a small spoon to beat them together for a minute or so.
2. Add in the powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time and beat vigorously until light and fluffy. This should take a couple of minutes. I like mine with just over a tablespoon of sugar, but we all like what we like so if you end up adding lots of extra sugar to yours you may need to add a tiny bit of milk to make the frosting workable and soft.
3. Add the vanilla and give it a good beating until smooth. The whole process should take about five minutes.
4. Frost your cupcake and eat up! I actually like to refrigerate the finished cupcake for a few minutes before I eat it because I like the frosting to be a bit more firm.

NOTES


. I like to put my room-temperature cupcake in a small food storage container for a while before I frost it. This makes the top of the cupcake super soft. There's no need for it, it's just personal preference.

. You could just bake it at 350 from the start, but that will give your cupcake a more dome-shaped top like a muffin. Baking it at 325 for the first 15 minutes keeps it nice and flat on top.

. I like to use a little bowl with a handle of sorts to make the hand-beaten buttercream. It keeps me from grabbing the actual bowl and transferring heat from my hands onto the butter.



Did you watch the video? Did you catch my cute foxy creamer? Argh! I love it! Lookit!


It's this cute little ceramic fox creamer from World Market. I also bought a cute sugar bowl but I'll show you that one next time. I have kept you long enough today.

Sorry about that. It's just that when I go so long without seeing you I have so much to tell you! Did I tell you that I passed my driving exam last week and I now have a driver's license for the first time? I did! I do! At 37 years old! Practically 38! Slay! Everyone else taking their driving exam was 16 or 17 years young. It was terrifying! Terrifying! I'll write a whole blog post about it soon because I think there may be some fellow non-driving panickers out there that may find it helpful. Driving is some scary schtuff for some of us.

OK, I'll shut my mouth now. See you next time. Don't be a stranger! Really, mind the mockingbird as you leave. He's a cranky little grumpasaurus. If you follow me on Instagram you may have already seen His Grumpiness. That's where I mostly hang out now, on the Instagrams. Sometimes I also hang out on the Twitters.

OK, OK, bye!



Monday, October 17, 2016

I'm on YouTube!

I'm on YouTube!

*small voice* Hi! Remember me? It's been a while! How are you? Enjoying fall? Eaten enough pumpkin spice everything yet? Enjoying spring if you're in the southern hemisphere?

I just wanted to write a quick post to let you know I've made some cooking videos and shared them on the YouTubes. Have you heard of ASMR? It's that soothing, tingling sensation you get on the back of your neck when you hear certain sounds. I never knew it had a name or that other people experienced it too. Not everybody does experience it, mind you. If you're one of the poor souls who doesn't get the tingly feeling then ASMR may seem stupid. Anyway, I've been watching ASMR videos on YouTube to help soothe the Anxiety Monster, and while they don't always help, it's nice when they do. My favorite ASMR videos are cooking videos. No whispers! ASMR whispers freak me out. So I decided to make a few of my own ASMR-friendly* cooking videos until I lose interest in them. You know me. I rarely stick with anything. So far I've made eight videos.

* UPDATE: Abort! Abort! I won't be calling these videos "ASMR friendly" anymore. The whole ASMR thing has become weird. So now I think I'll simply be calling them "relaxing" videos. Or maybe "quiet" videos. "Introvert" videos?  

Here is a little sampling.







There are a few more on my channel and I'll probably make a few more before I lose interest and quit. Here's the link to my channel in case you'd like to subscribe or check it out.

Anyway, that's all the news I have. I hope you're well and doing whatever makes you happy.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Greetings from the vestibule of my hermit hole! How is 2016 treating you? Marvelously, I hope. Are you staying warm? And are my southern hemisphere friends staying cool? I've been hiding under my electric blanket with a cup of hot tea glued to my right hand whenever possible. My left hand has a firm grip on the remote control. Don't even try to pry it out of my frozen claw. This is how I hibernate.

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes


Our poor little backyard birds have been having a rough, cold week here. How do they even make it out there? They're so tiny and delicate! Our bird feeders have been extra busy these past couple of weeks. The woodpeckers love to eat those suet cakes that have bits of nuts and seeds and corn in them, but the ones that they sell at most wild bird supply stores or big retailers like Walmart are all made with beef fat. The reason I came out of my hermit hole today is to share a recipe for coconut oil "suet" cakes.

These are not something we'd make all year round because coconut oil is expensive and we are not made of money, but also because it must be cold enough outside for the coconut oil to remain solid. I don't really measure the ingredients because it's basically just a bit of melted coconut oil with a lot of chunky stuff thrown in, but I did take notes and pictures when I was making this suet cake so I could share them with you in case you want to make some for your wild birds. Let's do this!


Coconut Oil Suet Cake for Wild Birds

2.5oz (70g) coconut oil
1 heaping tbsp unsalted, natural peanut butter
2oz (60g) chopped unsalted nuts (they love peanuts and whatever nuts I may have from the bulk bins)
2oz (60g) cracked corn
1oz (30g) millet
about 1 tbsp cornmeal
about 1 tbsp oats

The instructions are quite simple. Gently melt the oil and the peanut butter together either in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Done! You may need to use a bit more cornmeal and/or oats if you have too much soupy oil in your bowl. You can also use (unsalted) seeds instead of corn or millet. All the solid ingredients will sink to the bottom of the bowl or saucepan and you should have only a thin layer of oil at the top (see photo #3 below.) Now you just need to transfer it all into a mold and refrigerate it until it's completely solidified.

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet CakesCoconut Oil Suet Cakes
Coconut Oil Suet CakesCoconut Oil Suet Cakes

From top to bottom and left to right:

  1. Ingredients, assemble!

  2. Melted coconut oil and peanut butter.

  3. Nuts and other goodies mixed into the oil/peanut butter mix.

  4. The "suet" cake ready to be refrigerated.

  5. Dinner is ready! That type of suet cake holder can be found in most wild bird food shops and retail stores like Walmart or Target.

Now let's see what the customers think of these cakes.


Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes



(Can't see the video of the woodpeckers enjoying their treat? Try this.)

I think they approve! I hope it helps keep their little bellies warm during the cold winter nights. The little Downy Woodpeckers and the larger Red-Bellied Woodpeckers love these. Unfortunately, the starlings love them too. Starlings will devour these "Vashta Nerada"* style. Our resident mocking bird has been eating these too. And we've even seen our tiny little juncos and even the sparrows eating tiny bites of this cake.

Alrighty then. I've done my damage here. Back to my hermit hole!



* If you're not a Doctor Who fan, that just means a swarm of starlings will devour them swiftly!

EDIT: Don't worry if you can't find those suet holders in your area, do what Starr does and use string to hang the suet cakes!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

Not another year of foiled Halloweegan plans! I had lots of ideas for Halloween, but I've been going through a thing and I just haven't felt like getting crafty. I suspect this is a seasonal thing because the same thing happened last year at this time. But there is going to be at least this one Halloweegan post this year, and hold on to your bits because it's a picture-heavy bandwidth hog!



It's Aquafaba royal icing! This is the royal icing recipe that I used via Geeky Cakes. It works so well! It works just like the egg-based royal icing that I used to make for my mother's old catering business. I added 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract to mine to give it a bit of extra flavor.

First I made little ghosts following a tutorial that I can't find anymore. That's helpful, isn't it? It was a very simple tutorial. First you have to pipe a tear-shaped blob using a large round decorating tip on a bit of wax paper. The blob is the main ghostly body. When the body has had about 15 minutes to dry, you pipe two little tear-shaped blobs on the sides of the big blob using a smaller round decorating tip. The little blobs are the ghostly arms. After all the blobs dry for a couple of hours, you can draw the eyes and mouths using an edible marker or a tiny brush dipped in food coloring. Again, this isn't my original idea but I can't find the tutorial that I used. I'll update this post if I find it.

This guy is not too happy.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

This guy is extra happy!

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

This guy wants you to get off his lawn.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

Then I went vertical. Same decorating tips, but instead of making flat, tear-shaped blobs, I made vertical pear-shaped blobs.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

I made a few that stood up straight until I got bored with that and then I made some floppy ones.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

This poor guy looks like he's seen a ghost.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

Then I made tiny little aquafaba royal icing pumpkins following this tutorial. Awful photo. Sorry about that.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

And then I went vertical again.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

That's it! Aquafaba royal icing *WIN*! I may try to make a little gingerbread house later this year now that I have a good icing recipe to hold it together. Unless I don't. I may not. Gingerbread houses are a lot of work!

PS: I owe you a photo of a cute bird. I haven't taken any in a while.