Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rainbow Swirl Chocolate Cupcakes. Be EXCITED!

Oh my freaking gosh I created rainbow swirl cupcakes this weekend.  This had me excited and bouncing off the walls (or maybe it was all the shaved palm sugar).  This is a variation of the lemon raspberry cupcakes I made a few weeks ago.  The basic cake recipe is the same, I just altered a few things to make the cupcakes chocolate instead of lemon.  This time I put a simple whipped cream inside (making these non-vegan), but they don't need to be stuffed.  The cake is so moist and delicious!  

Also, this time I used organic, non-hydrogenated palm shortening as the base for my icing instead of the coconut oil.  I wanted a stiffer base so my icing could stand up to the trials of the abnormally nice weather San Francisco has been having lately.  This icing lasted in room temperature conditions much better than the coconut oil icing, which got a little melty, and very messy.  My kitchen was slightly less of a disaster zone this time around because I knew more of the cupcake making process - indeed, the cupcakes did not take a lot of effort now that I had all the ingredients stocked in my cupboards and knew what to do.  The rainbow icing experiment, while incredibly successful, was a bit on the messy side.  But all is rendered good when it comes to cupcakes.

I got the inspiration for the rainbow swirl cupcakes from this old blog post off of the blog Sara Bakes Cakes.  She didn't have instructions on how to do it, but in the comments I read that she had leftover colored icings from a different cake project, and she just put them all in the decorating bag and this is what came out.  I had to try it.  It's brilliant, beautiful, and every cupcake is a uniquely cool piece of art.  

The Cake

Wet Ingredients
- 1/2 cup frozen banana, thawed
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tablespoon arrow root powder
- 1/3 cup olive oil (or light oil of your choice)
- 1/3 cup coconut milk 
- 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water 
- 1/4 cup organic cocoa powder
- seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean (or 2-3 teaspoons of vanilla)

Dry Ingredients
   - 2/3 cup white rice flour
- 2/3 cup (don’t pack the cup) shaved palm sugar
- 1/4 cup tapioca starch
- 1/4 cup potato starch
- 1/3 cup almond flour 
- 1/4 cup coconut flour 
- 1/3 cup brown rice flour
- 2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

This time I mixed together the wet ingredients and beat it in a medium mixing bowl with my electric beater for around 2 minutes.  I added a little more thawed banana this time around, and estimated that 1/4 cup of pure cocoa powder would make my batter decently chocolatey without making it too bitter.  I stuck the mixture in the fridge for a little while to let it rest and so the arrow root could thicken it up a bit. 

In a larger mixing bowl, I sifted together all the dry ingredients.  I folded the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mixed them thoroughly. Then I spooned the mixture into cupcake liners in my baking pan.  I spooned it almost up to the top of the liner, just like last time.  

I baked the cupcakes for 21 minutes until the tops were solid and I could stick a toothpick in cleanly.  I let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes before pulling them out - I learned last time that they are slightly fragile.  The tops of the cupcakes split a tiny bit and almost looked like brownie cupcakes, but they stayed together fine (and ohmygod I just made chocolate gluten free cupcakes, rejoice).  Once again, I let the cupcakes sit out overnight before icing them.  They are much more firm in the morning, and they were easy to handle then.

In the morning, I cut circles into the tops of the cupcakes and very gently pulled out a cone of cake, making sure to leave plenty at the bottom so the filling would not fall through them.  That would be bad.  I cut off a bite of cake and put a dollop of the whipped cream inside.  There is a bit of finesse required to do this, as I learned before but did not manage to remember as I started working on filling the cupcakes.   Like before, my first cupcake top didn't fit right because I had put too much whipped cream inside, and then when I pressed down on it whipped cream shot all over the place (*cough*thatswhatshesaid*cough*).  I got the hang of it quickly (I put in half as much as I thought should go in, and I was golden). 

Next came the icing.  Rainbow lovers rejoice!

The Icing
- 1 cup grated palm sugar
- 1 tablespoon almond butter 

I wanted bold, beautiful rainbow colors for my swirled icing, so I made 5 different colors:  dark pink, orange, yellow, blue, and green.  I was impressed once again with the ability of the natural food coloring to produce awesome shades of colors.  The icing is a to taste kind of deal - if you want your icing sweeter or thicker, play with the ingredients until you get the right consistency.  

After you beat together your icing, separate it into five small bowls.  Put 5 drops of the pink/red dye into one bowl to make the dark pink color.  Put 3 drops red and 4 drops yellow into the second bowl to make the orange.  4 drops of yellow made the yellow icing bright and beautiful.  The blue icing took 6 drops to make it stand out.  The green took 4 drops of blue and 4 drops of yellow to get right.   Feel free to play with the variations of red/yellow/blue to get the shades you like best.

Put a teaspoon in each bowl.  Set up your decorating bag by snipping the tip and securing the 1M tip onto it.  Place one spoonful of each color into the bag at a time, until you get a globby, multi-colored mess going on inside.  BE CONSCIOUS OF THE TEMPERATURE OF THE ICING.  If it gets too warm it gets too gooey and the colors start to blend into a purple-brown bleh color.  You don't want that.  Pop your icings into the fridge for a minute to cool them down if you start to notice that they are getting gooey.  But you must be careful not to leave your icing in the fridge too long, or else it gets rock solid.  The palm shortening has a completely different texture and properties than the coconut oil - I preferred the workability of the palm shortening icing but personally liked the taste of the coconut oil icing a little bit better.  To each their own.  

With constant pressure, ice the cupcakes in smooth, continuous circular movements, starting with the perimeter of the cupcake and working your way around to the center.  Each cupcake will look a little different since you dolloped the colors in somewhat randomly.  Pop those finished beauties into the fridge because of the whipped cream.  Make sure to remove them at least 15 minutes before serving to ensure the icing isn't a rock solid brick, but soft and creamy, like icing should be.  

Love the rainbow (cupcakes).  Share the rainbow (cupcakes). 

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