Monday, May 31, 2010

Lavender Cupcakes

Spring has been busy around here, with work, chorus, writing, and spending time in the now tolerable outdoors. These cupcakes are pure springtime.

 I bought lavender from the farmers market in Cambridge to make this shortbread recipe back in the fall, but made almond and vanilla bean flavors to go with my apple butter instead.

The cupcake recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's white cupcake. Lavender flowers make it elegant instead of plain, and we ate it with my attempt at green tea frosting, which failed miserably. These are great plain and served with tea, either an herbal or Earl Grey.

Enjoy the Spring!

Lavender Cupcakes
(makes about 16 large cupcakes)

3 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 T vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 T soymilk
1/2 cup plus 6 T Earth Balance, room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
5 Ener-G egg whites (directions on box)
2 T dried lavender flowers, stems removed and gently crushed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with liners. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir the vanilla into the soymilk.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the Earth Balance until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of the soymilk. Stir after each addition until just combined.

3. In a separate bowl beat the Ener-G eggs until frothy and soft peaks form. Gently fold one third of the Ener-G eggs into the batter. Add the rest of the Ener-G eggs and fold gently, along with the lavender.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the tins halfway through. Transfer tins to wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Turn out cupcakes and allow to cool completely. Transfer immediately to an airtight container until serving. Can be kept in the fridge for up to one week. Microwave for 10 seconds to soften, if necessary, allowing to cool before serving.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Iced Masala Chai

Who doesn't love a good chai tea on a chilly day? I was hoping to share my chai recipe with you sometime during the cooler weather, but it never happened, and here we are well into spring.

This recipe starts out hot and then is cooled in the fridge, so you can skip to cooling part of the recipe for hot chai. My recipe is adapted from this one at Cheap Healthy Good. 

As for the type of tea, Veggie Might of CHG uses keemun, but I haven't been able to find it, so I use assam, which is the main tea used in the English Breakfast blend. I have also used Lapsang Souchong, which is smoked black tea, and Mango Black tea from Trader Joes. Whatever tea you use, make sure it's a strong one, otherwise the spices completely overpower it. You can prep this chai black and then add soymilk when you serve if your pitcher is too small (which mine was).

To crush the spices, put the cinnamon sticks in a towel and then hammer them into chunks, and the smaller spices you can grind how you please. I don't recommend already ground spices--the flavor isn't as strong or fresh.

Iced Masala Chai
(makes about 14 cups)


12 cinnamon sticks, crushed
2 tsp cloves, crushed
2 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
4 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed
1 T allspice berries, crushed
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
12 cups water
5 1/3 cups soymilk or 4 cups soy creamer
3/4 cup agave
3/4 cup black tea

1. Add all spices to water in a large saucepan or pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Add the soymilk or creamer and agave and bring back to a boil, stirring occasionally.

3. Turn off the heat, add the tea leaves, cover, and steep for ONLY 2-3 minutes. Prepare a fine mesh strainer over another pot.

4. Strain the chai into the other pot and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a pitcher and put in the refrigerator to chill.