Sunday, November 3, 2013

Belated Birthday Treats (Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes)

I am definitely proud to say that my baked goods are becoming slightly famous in my circle of friends.  I often hear them say, "I finally get to taste a Hannah creation!" when I bring in treats for class or birthdays.  I'm sorry to tell you, my friends, but whatever comes out of my kitchen is not that exclusive.  I look for any excuse to bake, so if you tell me you want something, I will make it for you.  And if you tell me when your birthday is, I will most likely make you a cake if I have enough time/funds.  But if you don't tell me when your birthday is and I have not already made you something, chances are, I don't already have it in my calendar.  And then your birthday comes up and I didn't bake you anything, and then I feel embarrassed because I didn't know.  So save me the guilt trip and save yourself the empty birthday belly, and give me a heads up on the date and your favorite flavor combos!

One person that is guilty of this birthday advisement omission is my dear friend, Lauren H at MSPP.  That's right, there are actually THREE wonderful Laurens, not two as I have previously alluded, at MSPP whose birthdays all fall within three weeks of each other.  I sat next to Lauren H in class and opened my Facebook, only to find out that it was her birthday that day, and I hadn't made her anything!  I felt so terrible, and demanded that she let me make her something the following week.

Lauren and I became friends our first semester at MSPP because we had an incredibly awkward class together, and we bonded over the discomfort we shared.  Lauren is from Georgia, so she gets my lack of affection for the Massholes.  We share the common experience of growing up hearing "yes, ma'am," and "thank you, sir," and the occasional "ya'll."  She is also just one of those cuddly people you feel compelled to hug.  If you are having a bad day, just a quick squeeze from Lauren will cheer you up and give you the strength to get through the rest of your week.  Lauren and I also both try to be vegan, but occasionally fail because we love cookies and cheese.  She is beautiful, sweet, and genuine, and I am honored to call her my friend.  I would do anything for this girl, so when she told me she likes chocolate and maraschino cherries, I was obligated to make these:

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes w/ Dark Chocolate Ganache (vegan)
Recipe adapted from here
Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup granulated sugar, sifted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup strong-brewed black coffee
1/2 cup dairy-free milk (I used almond)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbs white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup rinsed & dried maraschino cherries, finely chopped

Ganache Ingredients:
4 oz semi-sweet baking cocoa (dairy-free)
2 Tbs dairy-free butter

For Garnish:
1 dozen maraschino cherries, rinsed & dried

1. Gather your ingredients.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.

3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.

4. Gradually stir in wet ingredients into the dry.  Stir just until incorporated.

5. Chop your rinsed and dried maraschino cherries.

6. Line your muffin trays with paper liners.  I chose these adorable cow ones.

7. Fill muffin cups about a third of the way full and sprinkle chopped cherries on top.

8. Add remaining batter to muffin cups.  Each cup should be about 2/3 full.

9. Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

10. Cool in trays on wire racks for 5 minutes.

11. Transfer cupcakes to wire racks to finish cooling completely.

12. Once cupcakes are completely cooled, make your ganache.  Chop chocolate and place in a double boiler.  Add in dairy-free butter and stir together until everything is completely melted.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for 3-5 minutes.

13. Place a small amount of ganache on each cupcake, then top with a cherry.  Allow to cool completely before covering or transporting.

Ta Da!

As much as I hate maraschino cherries, these cupcakes were actually delicious.  The dark chocolate really balanced the sweetness of the cherries, and the chopped cherries in the middle gave the cupcakes a nice depth of texture.  I highly recommend these to anyone that likes chocolate covered cherries.

I hope you enjoyed them, Lauren!  And I hope "y'all" learned your lesson about telling me when your birthday is.  If you don't, you might not be as lucky to get belated birthday baked goods!

Happy Birthday Lauren! (virtual big hug)

Love and cookies,

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