Ever tried vegan baked goods? Until recently, I hadn’t; the thought of baking without milk, eggs, butter or even sugar (which some vegans don’t use; I’ll explain later) seemed, well, half past impossible. And as much as I love me some health food, I didn’t think my taste buds could handle the bait-and-switch. Would the cookies or brownies be, well, edible? Or would they be chewy vitamins disguised as after-dinner goodies? Could I take baking to the next level of nutrition without sacrificing all that’s good about dessert?
This year, I will be staying in Washington, DC for Thanksgiving … IN ORDER TO HOST THE HOLIDAY! AIEEEE! OMAGAH! WHAT??
… Actually, it’s not THAT terrifying. (She said, in her famous last words before her death-by-drowning at the hands — er, goo? — of a mountain of mashed potatoes and gravy.) It’s a new adventure that the History Teacher and I are taking on this year. We’ll be hosting his immediate family (traveling in from all sorts of corners of the East Coast), as well as a few local friends who’d rather stay nearby than make their long and expensive voyages home. To which I say, the more the merrier! … and the slightly scarier? More people! More food! More chaos! More tryptophan-induced napping on a limited number of beds and couches!
Those little puffs of dessert-o-rific joy? Those would be Two-Ingredient (-ish) Pumpkin Cupcakes. I dove into sweets this week with two different adaptations of mixes, in the spirit of my earlier post about doctoring pre-made and store-bought products. The results were downright delicious, and — now that I’ve devoured them, as have my ravenous coworkers — this post was ripe to be written.
First on the menu? Those cupcakes, which I baked to a) experiment with the 2-ingredient (ish) method seen here. I had no idea that this was even a thing, a technique, a recipe, but then, I decided to try it. And it was fabulous! So easy, and surprisingly light, given that the recipe contains no oil or eggs. (With that in mind, I suppose it’s also, technically, vegan? Bazinga!)
Yes, this dish is good. SO good.
And yes, you can make it easily. So easily, in fact, that as you’re gorging yourself on pumpkiny, cheesy goodness, you’ll be shocked that you made it yourself.
You’ll also be surprised to know that this dish is healthier than you’d think. First, the pumpkin puree is a nutritious, vitamin-rich way to sneak some veggies into your meal. Second, the shredded kale — whether frozen or fresh — is a nutrient powerhouse. Third, IF you consume a moderate portion and balance it with a side salad or other veggies, you can indulge a bit with higher-fat cheese due to a surprisingly low-fat béchamel sauce base.
But seriously, lovely friends, it’s almost autumn, my favorite time of year. I’ll admit that I love doing fall activities like apple-picking or sweater-wearing (hey, that’s totally an activity), watching the weather change, and partaking of everything else that comes with the season. My favorite aspect by far, though? (And that says a lot, now that Sam Adams is putting out their fall seasonal brew-packs. Come to mama, Octoberfest.)
Pumpkin! (And all of its accompanying spices — allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon)
In the spirit of my favorite gourd — which can successfully be added to pies, coffee (thanks, Starbucks, for bringing back
liquid crack your best seasonal latte), chili, tarts, and more — I came across this pin for Pumpkin Poppers, from the lovely Haley at Just the Little Things. Here’s the original, drool-inducing picture in all of its fall-flavor glory:
Yeah … this recipe had to happen. Thus, this weekend, I popped into my neighborhood Giant Grocery and grabbed (then promptly paid for — sheesh, guys) my first (of hopefully many) cans of pumpkin to make the recipe. After successfully baking a batch, and distributing them to my coworkers in an attempt not to slide into morbid obesity at the hands (er … cinnamon-sugar-sprinkles?) of these bad boys, here’s my verdict:
Holy canolli, Batman, these bad boys were delicious. The recipe was easy to follow, and the result turned out almost identical to the original pinned one. Hurrah! Here are mine:
The moist, pumpkin-flavored cake centers were covered in a light layer of cinnamon sugar (adhered with melted butter — no way something this tasty could be totally healthy!), and the flavor combination of spices, pumpkin and fluffy cake was fabulous. When I brought these to work, they vanished by about 9:30 a.m. When I left a few at home, 4 may or may not have simultaneously disappeared immediately after baking. Huh. Mystery.
Pumpkin Poppers — adapted from Just the Little Things. Makes 24-ish mini-muffin-sized bites.
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves [NOTE: you can substitute the previous 4 ingredients with 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, as well)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil or applesauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup pumpkin (for instructions for roasting your own, check Psych in the Kitchen’s post here)
- 1/2 cup milk
For the coating:
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
Here’s what you do:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray a mini-muffin tin.
- Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a small bowl and lightly mix until well-combined.
- In a larger bowl, combine oil / applesauce, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin, and milk. Slowly add dry ingredients mixture and whisk / mix with a fork until just combined. (Overmixing = not so tasty baked goods.) Using a tablespoon or ice cream scoop, fill mini muffin tins until nearly full and bake 10-12 minutes.
- For coating, melt butter in small bowl (45 sec – 1 min on high in the microwave should do it). Mix cinnamon and sugar in a separate bowl. After the pumpkin poppers cool for a few minutes, dip each one in melted butter; then, roll them in the sugar mixture (a la snickerdoodles) and set aside on a serving dish / cooling rack until ready to serve.
Variation: If you’re lacking a mini-muffin tin, bake the mixture in full-size muffin tins at the same temperature for 18-20 minutes, topped with a quick “streusel” topping of 1-2 tbsp flour, 1 tbsp cold butter (cut into flour with 2 knives or a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs), 1 tbsp chopped walnuts, 1-2 tsp brown sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
Are you folks fans of fall cuisine? Are you pumpkin people, or do you prefer other flavors of the season? Have your Pinned recipes been successfully attempted, or are you mostly pinning-and-forgetting? (Like we all do — myself included!)