Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Practically Vegan

A winter farmers market can be really bleak – after all, January is not exactly a harvest time here in the mid-Atlantic. While the Union Square Farmers market had a lot of interesting fare last weekend (whole wheat sourdough baguettes, red lobsters, hot Elk broth), beyond a few wispy bunches of upland cress, the only produce to be found was of the “good storage” variety: shallots, onions, potatoes, apples, and carrots. Carrots are a pretty hearty vegetable, but will turn on you eventually, especially if you cop-out and buy pre-shredded carrots at the super marche (hey, they are a great convenience food and perfect for sprinkling over a salad). Thankfully, carrot cake can be a shredded carrot’s savior, especially in recipes like the one originally published in the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts, which calls for you to cook the carrots (so a little slime doesn’t make a huge difference in the end). Made as is, the cake is vegan and pretty virtuous, and perfect in a “It’s January and I am still trying to stick to New Year’s Resolutions” kind of way. But of course, I made my own modifications making the end result low-fat vs. no-fat, in other words, practically vegan. And although some may consider these more like muffins than cupcakes, a schmear of brown butter cream cheese frosting makes them an acceptable treat* any time of day. *Except for those who actually are vegan.

Practically Vegan Mini Carrot Cakes Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts Even with baking powder as a levener, these cakes don’t pouf too much, so either fill your muffin tins to the brim or call them mini cakes instead of cupcakes. Makes 12 mini cakes (about 100 calories each, sans frosting). Ingredients 1 c. shredded carrots 1/2 c. pineapple chunks (canned and drained, fresh or frozen) 3/4 c. water 1/4 c. Splenda brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla Dash of cinnamon 1 egg, lightly beaten 1 tablespoon butter, melted 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil 1 ½ c. flour (I used King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat) 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon of baking powder Dash of salt 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional) Method Combine first five ingredients (carrots through dash of cinnamon) in saucepan; bring to boil and then turn down heat and simmer for five minutes. Using an immersion or standard blender, pulse to break down any large pineapple chunks or carrot strands, taking care not to puree mixture completely. Cool carrot mixture (the longer the better, ideally overnight). Stir egg, melted butter and oil into carrot mixture. In a large bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients (flour through walnuts, if using). Add wet carrot mixture to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Spoon batter into muffin tins prepared with cooking spray. Bake at 300 for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out dry.

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