It’s Andrew’s birthday today! Happy birthday, Andrew! Every year, I ask him what kind of cake he would like for his birthday, and every year, I get a slightly terrified look (you want me to make a decision? About food?), followed by a sheepish acknowledgement, after some discussion, that yes, he does want something chocolatey and minty. Again. Because being an Andrew means wanting choc-mint everything all the time. (He knows what he likes…)
The problem with Andrew having a birthday at this time of year is that he never gets a truly elaborate birthday cake, mostly because I am in the middle of grant season. This grant season has been particularly diabolical, too, what with the NHMRC compressing all the due dates so that all the grants are due a week apart, changing the rules twice (so far), and then our finance department providing the coup de grace by introducing new costings for all our internal services the day all the budgets were due to the grants office. It’s all rather exhausting, not to say demoralising, and while it’s awfully early in the year to be losing the will to live, I, for one, am getting close to that point.
(The good news is that I’m getting a lot of singing work, which is always a balm to the soul. Though not conducive to blogging. So yes, there is a significant chance that I will be disappearing off the radar quite a bit over the next couple of months. And I’m sorry about that lengthy whinge. As I said, I’m feeling rather demoralised.)
Here, have some cupcakes to un-demoralise you.
Anyway. Cake! So, as you may have gathered, my priority for Andrew’s birthday cake is to produce a cake that is on the one hand suitably choc-minty and decadent, and on the other hand really, really fast to make. Which, oddly enough, tends to mean vegan or nearly-vegan, since most of those cupcake recipes are very straightforward. As a bonus, of course, this means that I can easily cater to my sister-in-law, who prefers to avoid dairy if possible.
These cupcakes, then, are just a nice, simple, vegan cupcake, flavoured with really good cocoa, and an optional (non vegan) cube of mint-filled chocolate in the centre. I’ve topped them with a really basic peppermint-spiked chocolate tofu mousse, which is, frankly, easier to make than chocolate ganache, and not a lot more complicated than chocolate buttercream, and much tastier.
Not elaborate, but entirely delicious. Which is really all you can ask for from a cupcake…
Your Shopping List (Makes seven big cupcakes – one for everyone in the family, plus an extra one for the birthday boy)
2/3 cup almond milk + 20 ml for the topping
3/4 tsp cider or white wine vinegar
3/4 cup plain flour or plain spelt flour
1/4 cup really good Dutch-style cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup sugar
7 squares of Cadbury Peppermint Block, or similar (optional)
125 g silken tofu
2 tsp creme de cacao (optional)
115 g dark chocolate
6 drops peppermint oil, or peppermint essence to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon)
Green sugar, optional