Vegan S’mores Cupcakes and a Strawberry Balsamic Experiment
Last night was a fun party at my house, and a perfect opportunity to experiment with some new cupcake flavors and designs. Yes, my friends are all willing guinea pigs!
First up, s'mores. I've been wanting to do them for a while and had been debating - chocolate cupcakes with icing and graham cracker topping? Or graham flavored cupcake, maybe with a chocolate ganache (to mimic the melty chocolate of smores) plus frosting? I *know* - really important questions, right?
Well since the other flavor I was doing was fruit, i wanted one with a dominant chocolate flavor, so I took a dark chocolate vegan mini cupcake with a vegan vanilla buttercream, a piece of graham cracker, and a dark chocolate curl. I am very happy the way they turned out - very modern. They were quite popular, and a number of people commented that they liked the crunch of the graham cracker. I'll definitely try the reverse, because the idea of a dark chocolate ganache is so tempting!
Next up - strawberry balsamic. Since the theme of the party was summer and all of its amazingness (the rest of the spread included a peach/blackberry clobbler made by my housemate Sarah, and a nectarine-rosemary-gin cocktail concocted by Max), I knew strawberries had to be in the mix. I have often said that ripe strawberries are one of the most perfect foods.
Though I love my basic strawberry buttermilk cupcake, I wanted something more sophisticated. I wanted to go with a balsamic reduction, without added sugar because balsamic is actually pretty sweet as it is, and of course it's going on top of a cupcake which is sweet enough. The purpose of adding the balsamic is for contrast, right? So, as my housemate Sarah can attest, the first attempt at reducing the balsamic ended up in a scorched mess. Oops. Note to self: don't walk away while it's simmering on the stovetop!
Well the next batch turned out great, and I added a drizzle on top of one basic strawberry buttermilk cupcake to add a hint of flavor. Total success!
And by the way, mini cupcakes are perfect for parties, especially when you have multiple flavors. If your guests are anything like my friends, they'll want to try all the flavors and it's way better for people to be eating multiple tiny cupcakes than full sized ones. Believe me.