Brought to you by coconut milk (and a shitload of organic powdered sugar). And all-natural beet-juice food coloring. And local flour. And homegrown lavender.
Johanna commented on my Earth Balance post with a question about the ethical impacts of coconut oil, and it got me thinking.
I did a little digging on omeganutrition.com – the brand of coconut oil I use. I couldn’t find anything except that it’s organic, which I knew. I emailed them asking for info on how it is harvested, how the workers are treated, environmental impact, etc. I made sure to mention that I buy their oil in 5-gallon tubs and that I recommend it to everyone, so hopefully I’ll get a good response. I’ll keep you posted.
I seem to remember that the brand of coconut milk I use (Native Forest) used to have text on the back of their big 3-liter cans saying that the coconut milk was fairly produced by a worker-owned women’s collective – or something like that. Looking at one right now, however, it just says that the coconut milk is produced by “devoted Thailand farmers” and that the “organically-managed trees are more drought-resistant, and their soil is more rich and moisture retentive.” Hmm.
I switched from Thai Kitchen coconut milk because of that line about the women’s collective and because of the tiny line on the can that says “Edward & Sons Trading Co., Inc – a vegetarian company.” Rad! I love buying from vegetarian companies. Apart from some nice words about veggies on their site, they don’t mention the deeper issues of their products online, except for a lot of info on hearts of palm. I emailed them asking if I was imagining that bit about the women’s collective or what.
Thanks to Johanna for bringing up an interesting point – more info to come!
Now: cupcakes. Just to prove that, you know, I am large, I contain multitudes (can I have a prize because instead of Googling to make sure I had that line right I went and looked it up in my college Whitman textbook? It was worth it, because I saw that I had written “what a fuckin’ Prufrock” in the margin! What an angry little English and Women’s Studies major I was!) and that I wasn’t kidding when I said that I don’t mind cupcakes once in a while and harbor no ill will toward them – and because if I know vegans, I know that nothing turns them/us on more than cupcake photos people post on their blogs – here is an insane amount of cupcake photos from this week.
These are lemon cupcakes with lavender icing and homegrown sugared flowers.
Some notes to encourage DIYing:
I bet Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World has a recipe for lemon cupcakes? I am vastly too lazy to post my own, and if I do I will start rambling on about how it’s a modified version of a lemon cake I got from a former friend and current enemy who so hated my political beliefs that she ended our friendship by saying that she not only wanted not to be friends with me, but that when we passed each other (we worked at the same teeny tiny cooking school) she wanted to pretend that I didn’t exist.
Yes, I had posted some smack online about how fucked up it was when she told me I was the only vegan she knew who didn’t stink (it was fucked up because I do stink, naturally) and how she – like most people at the school – were the kind of non-politically active blah liberals who make me crazy with their abandonment of revolutionary ideals and zeal – but still, that stung. You want to pretend I don’t exist? That’s a great way to ignore the fact that I know I was totally right, yo! Anyway! I ran into her at the Fancy Food Show and we were excessively frosty to each other and I have eaten a ton of homemade coffee chocolate almond (coconut-milk) based ice cream tonight, can you tell? I never have coffee! Weeee!
So anyway, I bet Isa has a recipe, so go look there. Don’t put lemon zest in the cupcakes if you’re making tiny ones though, they kind of make it a little gritty. Or maybe you like yours like that, so then go right ahead.
I got the cups from streichs.com:
I personally like icing on my cupcakes, not frosting. This one is made by steeping homegrown lavender (you could use dried purchased – my mentor Selma would say “boughten” and that is so cute and endearing and New Englandy and old-fashioned, like when recipes say “1/2 cup of flour, divided” – I love “divided”!) in coconut milk for a while.
How much lavender in how much coconut milk, for how long? Some in a smallish amount, for a while. I ain’t no stinkin’ food blogger, you’ve got to figure these things out for yourselves. (For some reason I have intense antipathy toward the idea of being a food blogger, why is that? It’s so obvious that I am so good at it!) Until the milk tastes faintly lavendery. You could also put in 1/2 a drop of lavender essential oil (read the package to make sure it’s edible) or just go crazy and use artificial lavender flavoring.
Mix a small amount of coconut milk with a shitload (yes, that is the technical term) of organic vegan powdered sugar or your own homemade powdered sugar. Whisk whisk whisk until smooth and a good consistency for icing. Be amazed at how much sugar a tiny bit of liquid will hold. Use all-natural food coloring (I use India Tree brand) to tint it as you like it.
I have figured out the best method for powdered sugar – forget what I said before about using the food processor – use the spice grinder! (You know – a coffee grinder). But for superfine sugar, just grind it a teeny bit. For powdered sugar (no cornstarch necessary!) grind it forever and enjoy the sugar cloud that is the result when you take off the lid:
Then you can put on sugared flowers (now you can look at what I said before). Because I picked my lavender when it was a little damp outside it was kind of wet, so I didn’t even mess with the flax eggwhites, I just dipped it in my supafine sugar and put it on the cupcake.
You could just plonk plain edible flowers on if you’re going to be eating the cupcakes soon. I didn’t want to put plain (non-sugared) nasturtium leaves on because they are so spicy, but if I had remembered to grow pansies they would have been nice. I also used German chamomile flowers (they are tiny tiny daisies, and their tea is utterly amazing. I dry the flowers to use all year – chamomile is my tea of choice because I can’t tolerate caffeine, as you are currently witnessing), borage flowers, and a few bachelor buttons (those are too spiky to sugar, so I put them on plain and just realized I never tasted them, so maybe they are incredibly spicy. How could a blue flower be spicy though? I bet it’s mild like little ms. borage, she so cucumbery and dainty and the quiet queen of the edible flower garden).
The bachelor buttons are those bright blue guys on the right, second from the bottom and fourth on the top row. Borage are the tiny blue ones – there are 2 on the bottom row. The orange and red petals are nasturtiums, the stemmy things are lavender, and now you know all about edible flowers. But again, pansies would have been nicer, particularly tiny johnny jump ups (are they pansies, or violets, or just their own thing? I can never remember).
Do you know how to make the little design traditionally used on napoleons? It’s called combing. Just use a toothpick (I used a really thin knitting needle I keep around just for that and testing cakes) to make vertical lines on the cupcake. Draw the needle/toothpick through the lines going first one way, then the other. You’ll end up with this:
I got the really red result with tons of red food coloring. If it wasn’t made with just beet juice and glycerin, it would be scary, but it is, so it’s not. You could just cook some red beets and use a little of the cooking water (strained – beets are dirty!) as the liquid for your frosting, that would work perfectly too. Never underestimate the power of beets. I went a little crazy with this technique:
I had time to fiddle around – my sweetheart was on a plane to Sao Paulo, so I had to keep my hands busy to keep from missing him. I still missed him though.
His name lends itself to food, what can I say? Garlic scapes love him, too.
Ah, the coffee is finally draining out of my jittery bones. Good night, dear internet. Tomorrow, or soon, we will talk about the infamous New Yorker cover.