[ONLY THREE DAYS LEFT TO ENTER THE MAPLE SYRUP AND LAYER CAKE GIVEAWAY! If you haven’t yet entered, hop on over to this post and leave a comment! ]
Alas, I was too young to be part of the Hippie Generation (Woodstock ’69; Flower Power; Bed-Ins for Peace; Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out; and so on). On the other hand, The Nurse was a bona fide Child of the Sixties (she even used to draw a little flower on her cheek every day–in pen–where Marilyn Monroe’s famous mole was positioned). Up until my twenties (and based on the example of my sister and her friends), my idea of “hippie” went something like this:
a) long, flowing, basically unkempt hair (including on head, on legs, and under arms) and fingernails;
b) torn T-shirt (must be braless underneath if female), torn blue jeans, leather thong sandals;
c) slightly nasal, slightly lilting, sandpaper-on-velvet voice, usually directed at no one in particular;
c) à la Pig Pen*, frequently trailing a cloud of dusty smoke (which smelled suspiciously like a mix of burning rose petals and oregano);
d) said “groovy” and “cool” and “cat” and “establishment” a lot.
So when I enrolled as an undergrad at the University of Windsor and, at our first faculty-student event, met a real, honest-to-goodness hippie among the grad students there, I was surprised to see that she didn’t fit all the criteria I’d so assiduously lined up in my mind.
The major difference between the textbook hippies (no oxymoron intended) and my new acquaintance, Ms. Floaty (she acquired that sobriquet because it seemed to me she could glide across a room without actually touching feet to floor), was that the latter, at least, knew how to cook from scratch. Not only that, she knew how to cook well.
Remember the original hippie food? Generally full of soybean cakes and tasteless variations on tempeh and tofu. If you’ve got a copy of the Farm Cookbook, you’ll be amazed at how many of the recipes focus on soybeans, tofu, tempeh, soymilk, miso or even ice bean (soy ice cream)–though, judging from the photos in the book, the people on the Farm do all seem to fit the classic hippie prototype. It’s those seminal hippie vittles that brought us favorites like “Oven Fried Gluten,” “Creamed Tempeh,” “Soysage Dogs” or “Gluten Burritos.” Of course, they ate more than just tofu. They also ate beans, and brown rice, and sprouts. And let’s not forget where the phrase “Crunchy Granola” came from–oats and nuts and seeds and oh, probably, tofu. (Though I think that particular stereotype has been shattered for all time courtesy of Andrea’s take on the stuff–and her latest addition, with chocolate chips!).
Ms. Floaty had her own, surprisingly tasty, repertoire. She proffered a moist, dark and delectable cake studded with mysterious chips that she called “carob.” I’d never tried carob before, and loved it immediately. I was also lucky enough to sample her oat and coconut cookies, also featuring those unusual, exotic chips. After I asked for the recipes, I was surprised to learn that everything she baked incorporated maple syrup as a sweetener. Of course, it made sense: before the advent of agave nectar, maple syrup (along with the occasional brown rice or barley malt syrup) was the hippies’ and nature-loving folks’ sweetener of choice.
As I’ve mentioned before, growing up in Quebec, I assumed maple syrup was as common as my father’s ex-girlfriend (well, that’s what my mom used to say about her, anyway). So I never really thought much about maple syrup as anything but a substitute for sugar, used whenever a certain sort type of sweetness was required; it never occurred to me to showcase the auburn ambrosia as the primary flavor in its own right.
Not until, that is, I received my amazing sample of Coombs Family Farms Pure Organic Maple Syrup in the mail a few weeks ago. I was agog as soon as I inhaled the stuff and immediately set about creating. In honor of my cookbook’s impending publication (it does seem to be taking a rather long time, doesn’t it??), I even devised this giveaway for a liter of pure maple syrup or a custom-baked (Sweet Freedom recipe) layer cake.
As a lead-in to the giveaway, I thought it only fitting to bake at least one item that was entirely infused with maple flavor.
And where does one go to find a foolproof cupcake–of any flavor or variety your fancy might touch upon? Why, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, of course!
I started with Isa and Terry’s recipe for Maple Cupcakes and made my usual modifications so that the treats are compatible with the NAG diet (and don’t worry–both Maple Mania recipes were prepared the week before I started my current anti-candida cleanse, so I haven’t broken the diet! If you’re interested in an ACD update, though, you can check here). The result was a single serving treat with an incredibly light crumb and gorgeous, heady maple aroma. I didn’t bother to include the original’s 1-1/4 teaspoons (6 ml) maple extract (the syrup I had was that good)–and these were still intensely maple. (Whoever wins that quart must make these!).
Made with organic coconut oil and less soymilk powder than the original, the frosting, too, was superb–airy, creamy, light and, like the cake, rife with pure maple goodness. I’d definitely recommend these confections for a special occasion–an anti-establishment rally, maybe, or even a bed-in.
“Mum, you know it’s Chaser’s birthday next month. . . is that occasion special enough? I’m sure we could taste just a little of that frosting, don’t you think?”
Unfortunately, maple syrup is a bit too sweet for dogs, but the HH scarfed down his share of these goodies. If you’re a fan of maple flavor, you will love these.
“Mum, we are crushed. We’re devastated. I think you’re going to have to supply treats on demand from now on, just to make up for it.”
Maple Cupcakes with Maple “Buttercream” Frosting
inspired by a recipe in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
Laden with the lovely sweetness of pure maple throughout, these cupcakes are an indulgent, yet natural, treat. You’ll really dig it, man!
For the cupcakes:
1/2 cup (120 ml) plain or vanilla soymilk or almond milk
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely ground flax seeds
1/2 cup (120 ml) pure maple syrup (preferably grade B)
1/3 cup (80 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups (185 g) light spelt flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line 10 muffin cups (for large cupcakes) or 12 muffins cups (for small cupcakes) with paper liners, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, vinegar, flax seeds, maple syrup, oil and vanilla until well combined. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and whisk just until combined (do not overmix).
Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup (80 ml) measuring cup, scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until a tester inserted in one of the center cupcakes comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting. May be frozen.
For the buttercream:
2/3 cup (160 ml) organic refined (ie, unflavored) coconut oil, soft at room temperature (see note)
2/3 cup (160 ml) pure maple syrup (preferably grade B)
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
1/3 cup (80 ml) soymilk powder
1 tsp (5 ml) finely ground chia seeds, optional (see instructions)
In a deep bowl with electric beaters, beat the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt until combined.
Slowly sift in the soymilk powder and blend on low speed to incorporate. Then blend on high speed until the mixture becomes lighter–both in color and texture–and fluffy. If it seems too soft to hold a peak, add the chia and beat to incorporate; let stand 2-5 minutes, then beat again before using. Makes enough to frost 10-12 cupcakes. May be frozen; defrost in a covered container in the refrigerator overnight before using.
Note: You can certainly use unrefined oil for this frosting, but it will have a distinct coconut flavor.
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AND DON’T FORGET: YOU CAN WIN A QUART (LITER) OF PURE MAPLE SYRUP TO MAKE YOUR OWN MAPLE CUPCAKES. . . JUST CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS!
*Yes, I suppose it should have been “au Pig Pen,” but really, doesn’t that sound silly?
Last Year at this Time: Lucky Comestible II (2): Almond-Quinoa Muffins
© 2009 Ricki Heller
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