I had a dilemma a couple of weeks ago that I'm sure crops up for many vegans. You're committed to cooking something for someone (mine was cupcakes for a birthday party) and you're wondering if you should make said item vegan or not. I was sure there was no way I was going to include dairy in my recipe until a friend asked me what my plans were. I had mentioned a recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World looked good and her mouth dropped open a bit. Our conversation went something like this...
"Wait, you're making these vegan? But [person celebrating birthday]'s not vegan"
"Yeah I know. But these are delicious and there's no way I'm buying eggs or milk"
"Jen. You're being ridiculous. I WILL BUY the eggs and milk and bring them to your house. I'll even crack them open for you"
"Hmm...I get what you're saying but no thanks. I'll surprise you with how good they are!"
**skeptical stare from friend**
So I left that conversation feeling guilty when I shouldn't have. I make good vegan cupcakes!I'm indignant about it! But I'm also not compromising my ethics 1 day a year. Anxiety sets in and that's not the best frame of mind to approach the vegansexual kitchen. So I cleaned, fixed a fancy drink, put on some Beach House, and went to work.
The cupcake batter itself was easy to make and looked fine. Consistency was practically identical to cupcakes with dairy and it smelled delicious and chocolate-y. I could quickly see this was not the problem. My performance anxiety really rested in the whipped buttercream frosting.
The recipe called for vegetable shortening, which I didn't have on hand. My bank account was quite low (I even bummed some soy milk off a friend, thanks Chris!) so I just used extra Earth Balance. Add mountains of powdered sugar, vanilla, and soy milk and blend for 5 minutes.
This five minutes is longer than it sounds. During this my mind is wandering and racing to all its usual haunts: relationships with multiple people, bills, homework I'm currently not doing. As with eating, I think cooking deserves your full attention if you can give it, so I snapped out of it and worked the bowl, turning it under my electric tool.
I came to a place of patience that then hosted a new level of concern. The consistency of the buttercream wasn't looking so whipped and fluffy quite yet, but I persisted and waited until it started to transform. Just a hint at first, but then high towers of billowing whipped sugar erupted in my bowl, practically calling my name right then and there.
I was apprehensive...would it live up to my expectations? I nicked a little off the beaters and quickly tasted the frosting. It. Was. HEAVEN! I immediately ejected the beaters and licked one nearly clean, letting the powdered sugar-y whipped-ness dissolve slowly on my tongue. I'd be lying if I said I didn't audibly moan from how delicious and sinfully sweet this confection had turned out to be. As is the case with lovers, assumptions are useless and it's wonderful to be surprised by the risks you take.
Then things got really crazy. I broke out the sprinkles, quickly made dark chocolate ganache, and went to town. Behold, the leftover beauty of this creation:
You'll be happy to know that vegan cupcakes are excellent drunk and hangover food (see 4loko cans, my other other mistress, pictured on the left).
Everyone at work loved the cupcakes. I didn't say they were vegan until most folks had finished theirs, and they were all shocked. The favorites were the dark chocolate ganache covered cupcakes, which hardened into a nice shell that rested on the buttercream. Not unlike a chic hostess cupcake.
I strongly encourage your decision to add vegan buttercream frosting to your life. And ganache. And all things cupcake.