Currently viewing the tag: "cupcakes"

parsnip cupcakes
Parsnips are often overlooked when it comes to baking. I’ll admit I’ve walked straight past them in the produce section, their pale white exterior ignored for other, flashier vegetables. The bold-colored flesh and feathery tops of the parsnip’s neighbor is more familiar, and the root that one associates with muffins and quick bread. So it’s the carrot that is placed in my shopping cart, and then ends up in my cake.

But Martha Stewart changed my mind. Her lovely book Vegetables showed up at my front door, and after thumbing through so many amazing recipes (Skillet Pizza with Greens and Eggplant! Corn and Scallion Chilaquiles! Beet Risotto with Beet Greens! Broccoli Rabe and Ham Croque Monsieurs! Squash Blossom Frittata! Frisee and Roasted Pear Salad!), I (of course) found my way to one of the few desserts in the book, and decided to start there. I’m glad I did.

Martha Stewart
A few things:

It’s not too late to enter my giveaway! If you’ve pre-ordered my cookbook, you can enter to win a Vanilla Bean Baking Book apron and tea towel set. See this post for details.

Last week my site was down for a little bit, and I lost three posts. I was able to get them back, but sadly all the comments were deleted. So if you left me a question and I didn’t get back to you, please try again! Sorry about that.

It’s less than a week from Election Day, which is also the release of my cookbook. The lovely FauxMartha and my husband helped me come up with the perfect hashtag to celebrate both events: #bakeamericacakeagain. I think we could all use a little extra love while we move closer to Tuesday, and baking cake and sharing some is the perfect way to do just that. Tag your cakes on Instagram to play along! 

Although I thought we were terribly clever, there are already a bunch of fun cake/bake hashtags playing on ‘Make America Great Again’ on Instagram. NPR has a post on the history of Election Cakes that you can read about here.

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vanilla lavender cupcakes
‘And if, as we work, we can transmit life into our work,
life, still more life, rushes into us to compensate, to be ready,
and we ripple with life through the days.

Even if it is a woman making an apple dumpling, or a man a stool,
if life goes into the pudding, good is the pudding
good is the stool,
content is the woman, with fresh life rippling in to her,
content is the man.

Give, and it shall be given unto you
is still the truth about life.
But giving life is not so easy.
It doesn’t mean handing it out to some mean fool, or
letting the living dead eat you up.
It means kindling the life-quality where it was not,
even if it’s only in the whiteness of a washed pocket-
-DH Lawrence, We Are Transmitters-
vanilla lavender cupcakes

Vanilla Lavender Cupcakes

Chickpea Flour Does It All
This past week, I took seven whole days off from my cookbook. I haven’t done that since October 1, 2014, which feels very overwhelming upon typing. Over the past year and half I’ve taken a weekend or two as a break from my work, and days here and there when my littles have been sick (and they were sick so much this year!), but otherwise have been in my kitchen testing and retesting while my kids are at school and then again in the evenings after they are tucked neatly into bed. I’ve been hunched over my computer into the wee hours, trying to find better words for head notes and consistent language for recipes, double checking measurements and panicking over mistakes. As I tumble into bed my notes for the day are set within arm’s reach on my nightstand, to pick up immediately upon awakening to start the cycle all over again (or, in the event that my house burns down in the midnight hours I can grab them before jumping out of a bedroom window while clutching my two children. One of many anxious scenarios I’ve come up with; just ask my husband about all of those).

This past week, however, I watched too much TV upstairs in bed, during the day. I started rereading Harry Potter. I went out to breakfast. I took long walks. I went on a date with my husband. I went to the lake with my kids. I snuggled on the couch in between them while reading books and watching movies and didn’t once think of oven timers about to go off, or dough that needed to be prepped for the next day, or cakes that needed to be stacked and frosted.

I don’t write all of that to try and come off as some kind of cookbook martyr. I’m surely not one. But when I get a cookbook in the mail, or pick one up off a bookstore shelf, I am very aware of the time and energy that went into making all those bound pages. It makes me excited to share new ones here, which is what I am doing again, today. Lindsay Love, of Dolly and Oatmeal, just put out her first cookbook, Chickpea Flour Does it All, which is where these vanilla lavender cupcakes come from. The book highlights chickpea flour (which I’ve worked with here and here), and is focused on gluten-free and dairy-free recipes. It’s a lovely collection.
vanilla lavender cupcakes

These cupcakes are also another baking recipe for the Pulse Pledge. The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulse, and I’ve taken the Pulse Pledge, committing to eat pulses once a week for the next year. Pulses are beans, chickpeas, lentils and dry peas; leguminous crops that are good for your health and good for the environment. I’ll be posting recipes involving them periodically this year, incorporating pulses not only in my savory cooking, but baking recipes as well. I’d love for you to join me! If the Pulse Pledge sounds interesting to you, you can read more about it here. It’s a 10 week commitment, and it doesn’t require elaborate baking: a serving of hummus and a bowl of soup are good ways to take them in, too.

This post was sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada. All opinions are my own.

***PS- I’m on snapchat? I’m not very good at it yet. But if you want to follow along you can find me under sarahkieffer.***

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coconut cupcakes | the vanilla bean blog
So here it is! The new site! With cupcakes to celebrate! I am totally overwhelmed by it. Melissa and Erin have outdone themselves, and I’m so lucky to reap the rewards. I am totally in love with my new logo, and must admit when Melissa sent it over to be reviewed I got teary-eyed; it just was so perfect. And, the social media icons are easy to find! I have a search bar! You can follow me on email! I have a super rad recipe section! (And, as I’ve gone through each and every post this weekend, I remembered recipes I  had totally forgotten about, like olive oil ice cream, and creamy carrot orange soup, and beet cake with chocolate, and peach-sausage pizza.)

I really cannot rave enough about Wooden Spoons Kitchen. These ladies went above and beyond for me, answering every.single.question. with fast replies, tweaking things just how I wanted them quickly and happily, and creating a gorgeous site in record time. I highly highly recommend them.

So, now, take a look around! Let me know what you think. (I’m still tweaking some spacing issues on older posts, so just ignore giant paragraphs, and imagine breaks and indentation).  xo
coconut cupcakes | the vanilla bean blog
coconut cupcakes | the vanilla bean blog
coconut cupcakes | the vanilla bean blog
coconut cupcakes | the vanilla bean blog
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a happy birthday

this evening, I sat by an open window
and read till the light was gone and the book
was no more than a part of the darkness.
I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride the day down into night,
to sit alone, and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand.

-Ted Kooser
[This poem reminds me of my dear friend, Melody, (happy birthday!) who is frequently reading, and writing, and dreaming of stories. She is a fantastic writer, in fact, you should read some of her work! You can find a lovely piece here.]
We are enamored with these little beauties, and they grace our table at almost every birthday celebration for my littles. Deep, chocolate flavor and sweet but not-too-sweet buttercream make these a perfect choice. Their frosting tops can stand as high and as colorful as you’d like, but they are also beautiful when left alone; the buttery white and dark cocoa becoming a glorious bite of day and night.
There the email appeared in my inbox from a dear friend. My world has forever changed, it is crashing, crashing. Life will never be the same for me. I walked away from the screen with a cloud of chaos hanging over me, struck again, [and again! and again!] at how short, how fragile, how bittersweet are our travels on this earth. Here, on one side of the winding road, are things so lovely, so good. I turn my head to the other, and there is so much loss, so much heartbreak. They are both with us, side by side, working fast and furious every moment. One day beauty shines like the brightest sun, and the next not even Galadriel’s phial* can shine as the darkness covers us.I was taught at a young age to walk the narrow road and great things would find me, to not stray and my cup would always be full. But now, as I look back at the marks left behind, I find it’s a much more complicated affair. The walk of life is not so much a road but a slender path, a tightrope of sorts that I must find balance on. I have no choice but to walk it, watching the rope weave itself together as I step; winding itself with all the hurt and all the beauty this world has to offer. I see myself as a carefree child, my days filled with joy, then here I am a broken young girl, my nights filled with weeping. My sister and I sit on the worn couch while my father reads to us, but now we are sitting on cold, hard pews, burying the most precious little life. There are arms that know me and hold me close, but there are moments where I am so alone, and what I find inside myself is hard to face. Somehow, I must find the courage to embrace what the rope will fold into it’s strands, letting it shape and guide me. I must always walk that line, whether gracefully or on hands and knees.

I’ve been trying to come up with words for a Valentine’s post, and while I believe in the goodness of candied hearts and long-stemmed roses, I don’t feel that my experience of life and love can be wrapped up in a roses-are-red monologue of sorts. Bittersweet is my word of choice these last few years: watching the day and night work things out together. They are fierce companions.
But I do celebrate. I am loved, and loved well. This heart has some broken and torn pieces, but we have learned to mend, and protect the delicate. We have watched the sun cast shadows, and we have walked through them, hand in hand.
‘In this terrible ocean, in this terrible sea, we are pearls.’
– Lee Bozeman
I have a thing for vegan desserts. I’m not a vegan, but every January [A] and I partake in a vegan diet to cleanse our systems and add more fruits and vegetables into our bodies. When we first started doing this, way back in college, it was rather difficult to find good vegan food. It had just started to become mainstream, and we didn’t realize all our options. We were constantly starving, roasting up potatoes and cracking open a can of corn for every meal. Seriously. The day we came across natural peanut butter in our tiny little co-op was like Christmas; we almost ate a whole jar on some apples. Now-a-days it’s rather ‘easy’ to eat meat and dairy free – there are so many choices in the grocery store, and most coffeehouses and hip restaurants serve something that caters to this life choice.
I’ve always been interested in vegan food because the time each year I eat vegan, I want some great options. Fresh fruits and vegetables are obvious, but this girl can only hold out on baked goods for so long. It’s become a sort of secret challenge – coming up with vegan desserts that taste as good as anything made with butter and eggs. We have several dear friends who are vegan, and I’ve wanted to have a good selection of meals and desserts that I can serve them when they come over – something we’ll all enjoy. It’s so important to me that the people dining at my home feel comfortable with what we are eating.
So about these cupcakes. My dear friend Bethany approached me to make desserts for her sister, who is vegan. I had a great recipe for vegan chocolate cake, and experimented with making it into cupcakes. It worked like a charm: these cupcakes were just as good as my dairy version. I had also previously experimented with a dairy free version of cream cheese peanut butter frosting, so I stepped it up a bit and added bourbon – yum. I mean, super-yum. The chocolate frosting worked great, too; we had winners. Really, it didn’t taste like a granola girl concoction. Imagine dreamy, creamy chocolate or peanut butter frosting on top of moist, rich chocolate cupcakes. Time to call up your vegan friends and have a party.
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