After a wonderful week spent in Paphos, Cyprus, I return to share with you a wonderfully decadent cupcake recipe.
A week of eating salad, houmous and pita every day for a week had me craving many of my favourite foods. I arrived home on Monday morning ahead of a day filling up to satisfy my cravings – beans and mushrooms on toast, Mat’s roasted Mediterranean vegetable lasagne with his divine garlic bread and an exciting salad of rocket and cucumbers from my garden. I also gorged on a few oat biscuits and continued to fantasize about naughty treats like cakes and vegan pizza! Having lost my first stone of three, I had to curb my enthusiasm and instead share a gorgeous cupcake recipe with you in an attempt to get the urge out of my system!
I’m sure Cyprus could have been more vegan friendly had I planned ahead and not been the only vegetarian. It happens that you just have to slip in and make do when you are a vegan amongst 5 omnivores, most of which don’t really understand the concept of veganism and assume the vege burger must be vegan. It also becomes such a huge fuss – you’ve barely sat down before all in your party start darting at you all the things you could have from the menu, none of which you could actually have – a vege burger with cheese in the patty, an aubergine salad ready mixed with mayonnaise and pasta made with egg. You ask the waiter for roasted veg (already a menu item) in pita with fries and salad. You get given a large plate of boiled, waterlogged, frozen mixed vegetables, pita and fries. Now I’d happily eat that, I did, but for 10 euros? Come on.
There were a few disasters.
At a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant in the Coral Bay area, I was aggressively stared at and grunted at as I politely tried to explain my dietary requirements to the waiter, feeling confident after reading on the top of each page of the menu, ‘please inform your waiter of any dietary restrictions’.
I’d seen Tofu Miso Soup on the menu. I asked if the chef would mind making me some tofu and rice. I was told tofu was only available in the soup. I asked if that was because the soup was ready made, he told me it was not (?). The waiter explained to one of the teppanyaki chef’s who appeared to understand – “Oh, full vegetarian”, he said, “Tofu Miso Soup”. Great, but I was ravenous, so I asked if I could have some plain boiled rice and vegetables cooked in the kitchen and not on the teppanyaki grill.
A comment was made that the fire on the grill would remove any trace of the meat cooked on there. I responded that I would not eat from a grill coated in a humans ashes, so why would I eat from a grill coated in cow and chicken ashes? I thereby renamed it (to myself, in my head!) The Graveyard Grill.
My soup arrived smelling of the sea. Whether it was fish stock or actual sea food in there I don’t know but it certainly wasn’t vegan, as confirmed by my fellow diners.
The entertainment was great, the chef made big fires and threw his knife around and played games like catch the bowl of rice but I was sat for the duration with an empty plate and rumbling tummy as the chef threw vegetables, rice, potatoes and meat from the grill on to the plates of all around me. It was more than a little awkward and uncomfortable. Eventually someone noticed and I overheard the conversation that my plain rice and vegetables had been forgotten. I was reassured when the entertaining chef told the waiter (to tell the kitchen chef), that olive oil was OK but no butter.
Then it arrived. Buttery vegetables and egg fried rice. Why was it so hard?
A different restaurant menu offered a chicken caesar salad with bacon bits and parmesan marked with a (V). I’m not making it up.
Thus, I chose to stick with plain, undressed salad, pita and houmous.
I made these cupcakes when my best friend Jess (Mat’s step sister) first brought her fiance over to meet us and have dinner. He was a vegetable phobe. Just a bit of a challenge for a vegetarian. I made squash ravioli with sage sauce, a crunchy coleslaw with lemony garlic bread. All finished with these rich, moist and buttery cupcakes that would give even the most die-hard carnivore an incentive to eat their veggies! Guess what, he asks me to make that meal every time he sees me and I hear Jess has got him eating more veggies!
Ingredients: Makes 18 cupcakes
- 170g/3/4 cup vegan margarine, room temperature
- 275g/1 1/4 cup unrefined caster sugar
- Replacer for three eggs (I use Orgran powder)
- 1 cup/250ml canned coconut milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 280g/2 1/4 cups of plain flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 50g/1/2 cup desiccated coconut
- 7 tablespoons coconut oil
- 200g/1 cup brown sugar
- 85g/3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 125ml/1/2 cup non dairy milk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 35g/1/3 cup desiccated coconut
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line muffin tins with paper liners.
- Use a hand mixer to cream the margarine until light and fluffy. Add sugar and combine until light and fluffy again, scraping down the sides halfway through to ensure even mixing.
- Mix in the prepared egg replacer until fully combined.
- Whisk or sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate small bowl. In another mix the coconut milk and vanilla. Combine 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture, then add 1/2 of the wet ingredients. Continue alternating with the wet and dry mixtures, ending with the dry. Mix just until combined then fold in the coconut.
- Divide the batter between the cases until each is about three-quarters full. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out free of wet batter, dry crumbs are OK.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool for a minute or two in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely whilst you prepare the frosting.
- In a medium pan over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Stir in the sugar, cocoa powder and milk and heat, stirring, until mixture is smooth and hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. Set aside to cool to room temperature, until thick enough to spread.
- Spread the cooled cupcakes with the frosting and sprinkle with the coconut to serve.