Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Cupcake Throwdown!

A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in a Cupcake Throwdown competition. As soon as I heard about it I knew I wanted to do participate, there had never been a competition in Vancouver like this before. The best thing about this Throwdown was that all the money raised went to charity, an organization called H.A.V.E that teaches homeless people how to cook so they can get jobs in restaurants.
I searched recipes for a long time. When it comes to cupcakes there are endless flavour combinations. There was one recipe, as soon as I saw it I wanted to make it: Mexican Hot Chocolate from the book "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" . When I read the title I instantly thought of when I was in Mexico on vacation, out of all the interesting foods and flavours I tried when I was down there, what I remembered best was drinking Mayan Coffee every night. Mayan coffee is made with coffee beans, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, milk and dark chocolate.
So, imagining what this cupcake tasted like, and that fact that it was vegan, and the competition was being held at the vegetarian restaurant Cafe Deux Soleil, which is on Commercial Drive, where they have held the famous Parade of Lost Souls, which got me thinking of the day of the dead which led me back to Mexican theme, I decided that this cupcake defiantly was the one.
I experimented with this recipe quiet a bit. I remember the first time I made it I could barely wait to try it. I ended up smothering the still warm cupcake in icing and shoving it in my mouth and turning to my boyfriend with a mouth full of cupcake and saying "This tastes exactly like mexican hot chocolate!!!". However, I did end up tweaking the recipe a bit for a little added kick. First I decided change the icing to a straight up vegan creamcheese icing, and also ended up filling the cupcakes with a chili and spice "ganache" made from coconut milk.
I decided to finish the cupcakes with a day of the dead inspired fondant topper. Most fondant is not vegan, but the brand Virgin Ice is.

*Photo's by Cherry Vega

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes.

1 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons corn flour or very fine cornmeal

1/4 cup almond meal

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

Cream Cheese Icing

1/4 cup tofutti better then cream cheese

1/4 cup earth balance buttery spread

2 cups icing sugar

1 tsp Vanilla

Chili and Spice Ganache

1 cup coconut milk

1 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate (I used a combination of semi sweet and cocoa camino chili and spice 71% dark chocolate)

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

Pinch of chili powder and cayenne

Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Whisk together coconut milk and flaxseed and allow to sit for 10 minutes, then whisk in sugar, oil, vanilla, and almond extract.

In another bowl, sift together flour, corn flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne. Gently mix in wet ingredients.

Fill cupcake liners with 1/4 cup of batter (approximately 2/3 full). Bake for 20 -22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

For frosting soften creamcheese in mixer, and the earth balance (it should be at room temperature) and beat on med speed until combined. Scrape down the bowl. Add icing sugar and vanilla then mix and low speed until smooth.

For the Ganache, chop chocolate into small pieces and put in a large bowl. Bring coconut milk and spices to a boil then pour over the chocolate. Slowly whisk together until combined. Let cool in the refrigerator.

Tip for stuffing theses little guys. These cupcakes and pretty fragile at room temperature, so when you remove a hole from the top make sure the cupcake are cold straight from the refrigerator.

For a complete review of the cupcake throwdown with some amazing photo's, check out . But I can give you the general summary - I WON!!! I have to say it was definatly stiff competition, there was alot of very talented bakers and very yummy cupckes. Thanks to all of my friends and family that showed up and help put a few extra votes in my pocket. The grand prize that I won was a free cooking class at The Dirty Apron . Im really looking forward to taking one of their classes.

Thats yours truly ^ Thanks everyone. Happy baking.


  1. Like you winning was ever in doubt :} Congratulations!

  2. Congratulations!!! Love the cupcakes :)