I wanted to bake my boyfriend's mother something special for Mother's Day. When I asked him what his mother liked, he said "double chocolate." I started thinking about the type of dual-chocolate confection I wanted to make and decided upon cup cakes.
Because everything I make must be dairy free - I needed to review a lot of different recipes and create one that would create a delicious dairy free cupcake. I also wanted to experiment by modifying meringue-based buttercream recipe that I found on Epicurious that combined the double-boiler method of a swiss meringue frosting, but with whole eggs and the addition of butter - like an Italian meringue buttercream. However, I needed to make it both dairy free and chocolate.
Here's what I did...
This was one grand experiment. I love red velvet. When I developed a dairy allergy, I couldn't eat or make it anymore. For years, I longed for them, until I worked in the Chelsea section on Manhattan. There is a wonderful vegan restaurant and bakery called Blossom. They make a fantastic vegan red velvet cupcake. On nice days, I would walk over on my lunch break and buy one (or a few...).
Well, when I stopped working in Chelsea, red velvet eluded me again. You see, I can replicate buttermilk by adding vinegar and/or lemon juice to coconut milk, but for red velvet, lemon juice alters the flavor and there is already vinegar in the recipe, so adding more throws off the balance.
Until... I began making coconut milk Kefir at home. The kefir acts almost the same way as buttermilk does in recipes, so it gave me the freedom to make a red velvet confection at home.
Some friends invited me to a Pot Luck, so I had the means and the opportunity to make it.
The next step was to locate a recipe to conform. I chose one from Sally's Baking Addiction. It was a nice base that was relatively easy to convert by replacing the buttermilk with kefir at a 1:1 ratio. I made a double batch - thinking that it would only produce 12 cupcakes. Well, I got 24 cupcakes and two 8" rounds from doubling that recipe.
Now, how do I frost them? One option would be to make the cream cheese frosting with soy-based cream cheese, but I wanted something more interesting than that.
For the cupcakes, I wanted something light and airy - so I made a seven-minute swiss meringue frosting by Gale Gand.
For the cake, I decided to attempt an Italian Meringue buttercream, replacing the butter with Earth Balance Buttery Baking Sticks.
The dairy version of this recipe came from renowned pastry chef Gale Gand. However, I modified it to work as a delicious, non-dairy dessert.
Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl over simmering water in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
While the chocolate is cooling, whip the coconut milk on high speed until it stiffens, then refrigerate. This will take longer than regular cream, and the bowl, the whisk attachment and the milk all need to be very cold. I pop my bowl and attachment into the freezer about 30 min before I make it.
In a clean, dry mixing bowl, whip (whisk attachment) the whites on medium high speed until soft peaks form.
Slowly add the sugar and continue whipping until the whites are glossy and the sugar has dissolved. Add a third of the whites to the cooled chocolate, and whisk in quickly and thoroughly.
Add a second third of the whipped whites and fold in with a rubber spatula until most of the streaks are gone.
Add the final third and continue to fold until a few streaks remain. Fold in the whipped cream.
Spoon the mousse into a piping bag fitted with medium star tip. It’s going to be loose, so twist the bag at the base near the tip to prevent the mousse from leaking out until you are ready to pipe with it.
Pipe into serving glasses, shave some dark chocolate over the top and chill for 2 hours, then serve.
My boyfriend and I both love meringues. I had some extra egg whites that I saved from another project, so I decided to make him some chocolate, expresso Meringues.
I used King Arthur Flour's Expresso Meringue recipe and added 1 teaspoon of dutch process unsweetened cocoa to the recipe. Then piped them and popped them into a 200 degree convection oven.
When they came out, they were still a touch moist, so I popped them into the proof box at 90 degrees for another hour until they were perfect.
I'm a home cook with a lifelong passion for learning, exploring and experimenting in my kitchen. You can find me at @Debs1 on Twitter and @Debs121212 on Instagram.
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