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Mostly-vegan low-fat whole foods recipes

Friday, October 10, 2008

red-ish velvet-ish cupcakes

The future wife and Asher-the-devil-dog hiking through the autumn landscape

We've decided to have cupcakes in place of a traditional cake for the wedding. Not only cupcakes, but 3 flavors of gluten-free vegan cupcakes. The 3 flavors are, tentatively, red velvet w/ cream cheese icing, chai w/ cinnamon buttercream icing and peanut butter w/ chocolate icing. And the testing began today.

My goal is to figure a way to make the red velvet cakes without the 4000 gallons (or 2-4 ounces...) of red dye 40, which terrifies me and is something I don't feel is appropriate for human consumption. Although there is an amazing amount of debate on the subject, and seemingly on all subjects related to red velvet cake, most sources cite 2 possible natural sources for the red; the natural chemical reaction between the cocoa powder and the acidity of the batter (which has both buttermilk and vinegar traditionally), and some combination of beet products, from shredded beets (raw or cooked), pureed beets, beet juice, pickled beet juice, etc. I like the more subtle forms of red velvet that are basically a white cake with a small amount of cocoa powder, so I didn't trust using just the cocoa powder to get the color, so I made one batch using a small amount of pureed pickled beets along with a syrup made from boiling down the pickled beet juice (which usually contains HFCS, which I didn't know when I bought it...ugh).

The results were, um, disappointingly...not red. Pink isn't really even an adequate description...perhaps "brain colored"? "Salmon"? I don't know, but not red. The flavor, however, is really good, just enough cocoa as to not taste like a chocolate cake but still to taste like something more than vanilla. It probably helps that I used really good expensive cocoa powder...but, alas, the color bumped this variation out of the running.

So, I made another batch...or another 1/2 batch, using a combination of pureed canned beets (not pickled) and beet juice.

The batter was a lovely shade of purply red, and the top of the cupcakes looked lovely.

The inside...still brown, but not so brain-like, so I guess that an improvement. They do, however, taste slightly of beets. Which is not so ideal. And the color still isn't there. But the tops are pretty!

I fear that I may have to compromise my values a bit and use some red dye if I want these things to actually look red. I'll keep trying a bit though. All I have to say is, now that I have about a billion cupcakes, I am so glad I'm visiting family tomorrow and have a church thing on Sunday where we're supposed to bring food...because I am quite sick of odd colored cuppers...

Oh, and we took some "engagement" photos the other day at our venue, since we wanted to see how the foliage would look.

This one came out pretty cute, helped out a lot by the dogs (look at Kasie peeking over Ash's head!). Please ignore the craziness of my socks!

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