Sunday, May 24, 2015

Vegan tomato cupcakes with balsamic frosting

tomato cupcakes with balsamic buttercream

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.

While I don’t do it as often as I would like, I’m rather fond of using strange ingredients and flavors in my desserts. Call it “experimental”, call it “delusional”, but either way it’s a hell of a lot more fun than making basic vanilla and chocolate treats day in and day out.

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.

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Vegan tomato cupcakes with balsamic frosting

Adapted from Bittersweet

Ingredients

Tomato cupcakes

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

Balsamic frosting

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

Directions

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.

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Simple yet elegant.

Check out these other super-weird recipes I’ve posted on the blog.


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.

36 comments:

  1. I think they're fantastic! I love balsamic in desserts, it always gives such a great sweet/tangy flavor, and tomatoes are a fruit, after all! I bet these were just delicious!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! I plan on using balsamic in more treats soon :)

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  2. Hey June, what a unique recipe - I have never seen savory cupcakes in all my years of blogging! What a fun twist. I don't know if hubby will like it quite like a chocolate cupcake but I'm game for trying it :D

    Cheers, Natalie (obsessivecooking.com)

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    1. Well, they're kind of savory, but they're mostly sweet--still definitely a dessert lol! :)

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  3. These sound amazing...I'm bookmarking them for when we have fresh tomatoes from our garden,

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    1. Hope you do make these! I'm sure they'd have more of a vibrant red color with fresh tomatoes :)

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  4. This sounds super interesting :)

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    1. They really are! Thanks for stopping by :)

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  5. Holy tomato! These sound great June :D One of your five a day, and halfway to a Bloody Mary, ha! The buttercream frosting sounds great, and I can imagine this is fantastic when you want cake that is just a little less sweet than the 90% sugar slices you get when you're out and about. I am intrigued :D x

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    1. You're right, they're not too sweet, but still a great treat :) The frosting is definitely the best part!

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  6. I've seen tomato soup in cupcakes before...so why not actual tomatoes?! A little crazy, but I'd try it!

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    1. Tomato soup? I guess I believe it! Fresh tomatoes are definitely great :)

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  7. I like your experimental mind. They look delicious!

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  8. I love the photos :) And i've made a similar cupcake before hehe it's very different isn't it! Keep up the great work!

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    1. Thanks!! I do think the pictures came out nice here :)

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  9. Haha, I reread the title because I didn't believe it either. This sounds so interesting! I am intrigued!

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    1. It is quite the title, I was excited about sharing this with the world :)

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  10. This sounds so different and delicious! I never thought to use balsamic for dessert - it's something to try! :)

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    1. It definitely is! I imagine balsamic would go well with strawberry too, so I may try that soon.

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  11. Oh my gosh! This recipe is insane! It's so creative, inventive and it sounds delicious! That balsamic frosting looks to die for! I can't wait to try these, thank you so much for sharing :)

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    1. Thanks so much! You can thank Hannah over at Bittersweet for the recipe--she came up with the idea :) I only made a few modifications, but I couldn't NOT share these cupcakes!

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  12. this is such a cool idea! i'm not sure if i'm brave enough to try savoury cupcakes yet... but you make them look absolutely delicious. nice work!

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    1. They are not too savory, they are mostly sweet! Plus tomatoes are a fruit, so..it works, right? :)

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  13. I may have done a double take on the title...LOL! Sounds interesting! I bet it tastes great, tomatoes + balsamic is a great combo :)

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    1. Turns out, it not only works in savory dishes but sweet too! haha :)

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  14. Wow! That's very interesting and original!

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  15. these sound interesting! I'm not sure how much I'd like a savory flavor cupcake, but who knows lol. thanks for sharing!

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    1. I'm sure you'd like these! They're surprisingly delicious! :)

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  16. Yum yum cupcake:-)savory flavour in cupcake is new to me will try soon

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    1. Do try them, you won't regret it! :)

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  17. Oh these are just creative!! And look amazing!

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  18. I love them! So creative! Lovely recipe!

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