Hold up. Re-read that title. Assure yourself that you aren’t hallucinating (but really, did you have enough coffee / tea / fresh-cut cocaine yet today? It’s always good to check). Accept the bizarre reality that these cupcakes are.
Thank the food blogging community. Y’all are some encouraging people, always heaping praise on experimentation and strange combinations of flavors, almost to a fault—but I love it, the way food bloggers encourage new ideas and innovation. It’s progress!
Ten years ago, typically Japanese flavors like matcha were probably unheard of in the US. Check out this graph of searches for “matcha”—searches for the ingredient have gone up quite a bit since 2005. Food blogs may be to thank for this, since, being global entities, they allow ideas to spread across cultural boundaries. I, personally, love the fact that I can follow international food blogs and get all kinds of cool ideas and hear about all kinds of cool ingredients. Like pandan, a beautiful green plant used in Southeast Asian cooking. They’ve also expanded my perspective of the use of flowers and herbs in sweets. The concept of “edible flowers” didn’t even exist for me prior to reading food blogs.
But perhaps most fascinating is how bloggers use typically savory ingredients in their treats. Like these cupcakes.
|Do I see June making an attempt to style her food? Yes I do!|
I first saw the recipe while browsing through Bittersweet’s recipe index (the blog, I might mention, written by the author of one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Desserts)—and I have to admit, I was a little weirded out. But I saved the recipe anyhow, and just a couple weeks ago I ended up whipping up a batch just for shits and giggles. Because seriously—tomatoes in cupcakes? That is so weird it just might work.
And I’ll tell you—it does work. My mother was giving me the side-eye the whole time as I stirred crushed tomatoes into cake batter and whipped balsamic reduction into buttercream; but these cupcakes are absolutely delicious. Now, do they taste like tomatoes? Yes. That is the point. They are supposed to highlight the sweetness of fresh tomato (although I had to use canned, since it isn’t quite tomato season yet) and the tangy flavor of balsamic vinegar. The spices in the cake batter only serve to give it a little kick, nothing too strong. The flavor is unusual but good. If you like being daring in the kitchen, you will want to try these.
|I don't always garnish stuff with mint leaves, but when I do, mint doesn't go well at all with the flavors at hand.|
The result? My initially-cynical mother actually loved the cupcakes, as did my grandparents (I made these for a visit over their house). I, personally, loved the balsamic frosting—it was so tangy and addictive.
Now...if only we had fresh tomatoes on hand...like the ones we will enjoy this summer...
Yeah, I’ll definitely be making these again later in the season.
Vegan tomato cupcakes with balsamic frosting
Adapted from Bittersweet
360 grams • diced fresh tomatoes, roughly blended, or canned crushed tomatoes • 2 cups
72 grams • olive oil • 1/3 cup
74 grams • dark brown sugar • 1/3 cup
208 grams • all-purpose flour • 1 ½ cups
100 grams • granulated sugar • ½ cup
4 grams • baking powder • 1 teaspoon
2 grams • baking soda • ½ teaspoon
3 grams • salt • ½ teaspoon
1 gram • ginger • ½ teaspoon
0.5 grams • nutmeg • ¼ teaspoon
0.5 grams • black pepper • 1/8 teaspoon
112 grams • coconut oil, softened • ½
240 grams • powdered sugar • 2 cups
20 grams • balsamic reduction • 1 tablespoon
4 grams • vanilla extract • 1 teaspoon
15 grams • nondairy milk • 1 tablespoon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 15 to 16 cupcake tins with paper wrappers and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together tomatoes, olive oil, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients under “tomato cupcakes”. Fold wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined and few lumps remain.
Divide batter between cupcake tins and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs attached. After 10 minutes, remove from tins and let cool completely on a wire rack.
To make frosting, start by placing coconut oil in the bowl of an electric stand mixer; beat until smooth. With mixer on low speed, spoon in powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add remaining ingredients and whip on medium-high until light and fluffy.
Pipe frosting on each cupcake. If you have some on hand, garnish with a basil leaf. Munch.
|Simple yet elegant.|
Check out these other super-weird recipes I’ve posted on the blog.
Avocado pound cake cupcakes with chocolate ganache. Avocado in cake? U wot?!
Frito cheesecake layer cake. Junk food heaven.
Lemon blondies with thyme buttercream. And you thought lemon and thyme was just for chicken.
Sweet curry pancakes with mango chutney. One of my earlier inventions.