I must admit that I have felt slightly guilty at times when I baked sweets for special occasions, whether it be someone’s birthday or a baby shower — slightly guilty for serving desserts that tasted delicious but contained unbelievable amounts of butter, granulated sugar and other unhealthy ingredients that I may not necessarily consume myself or serve to my family.
I love sweets and decadent desserts just like anyone else, I do, but I no longer believe that tossing in unhealthy and unnatural ingredients is the right way to go – however wonderful the end products may taste. I would rather bake and eat something less perfect that is natural, than a perfect unhealthy one.
I think it’s really easy to make anything tastes delicious if you put in refined sugar, butter, cream and eggs (or mayonnaise or bacon or lard … the works). What tests the real talent of a chef is the ability to create an equally delicious or even superior product with unconventional ingredients.
This is why I have huge respects for Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, authors of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, who created so many wonderful cupcake recipes that are dairy free and uses alternative ingredients like agave nectar, soy milk and tofu. They admit that their recipes are not necessarily low fat or super healthy but their versions are far better – something I am proud to serve to my loved ones.
I baked Simple Vanilla and Agave Nectar Cupcakes from the cookbook for my friend and colleague M’s birthday tomorrow. I am not going to post the recipe here because I want you to go buy the book (trust me, it’s worth it even if you’re not vegan) but just to show you how awesome they are, these lovely cakes contain no animal products. Instead, there are agave nectar and soy milk. I was a little afraid at first, not knowing if the cakes will rise properly without eggs working as the binding agent, but they came out gorgeous and fluffy just like the conventional cupcakes. I made two versions – vanilla and chocolate – using the same, basic recipe.
What is most intriguing about it all is that the chocolate frosting is made out of tofu! Yes, tofu, those soy bean curd found in Asian dishes! The extra firm tofu is blended until silky and mixed with melted chocolate, maple syrup and vanilla extract to create this velvety frosting! You can barely find the trace of soy in it so this is recommended even for the pickiest eaters!
I tried both cupcakes and absolutely loved them! I must say that they are different from the ones you may be accustomed to but I think these are amazing – not too sweet, not too greasy, and just … perfect. 🙂
Update: The vegan cupcakes were a hit! M loved them and so did his friends! All of them couldn’t believe that the cupcake didn’t contain any BS (butter and sugar) and that the frosting was made out of tofu! I was not sure how others would receive the non-conventional version of the old favorite but they seem to really enjoy them! I’m now known in the office as “that girl that made healthy cupcakes.” 😆 Happy birthday, M!