Daring Bakers Challenge – Faster Than A Vegan Éclair!

I LOVED this challenge!

Naked Éclair

Yep, the incredibly delicious Vegan Éclairs that were the August Daring Bakers Challenge disappeared “faster than lightening” or faster than an éclair, if you will. This month’s ever-so-lovely hosts Tony Tahhan and Meeta K of What’s For Lunch Honey? gave us a little French flavah by proposing Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé from Chocolate Desserts by Dorie Greenspan.

These little gems were so amazing…I can’t remember the last time I had an éclair, but if my memory is at all correct, they were right on! Mr. Fish who is an éclair expert, proclaimed that I should probably make another batch for him to taste to be sure of their authenticity… because the first batch just sort of disappeared! He loved them, Guppy loved them, and I loved them. They were light, flaky, and just perfect! I know I’ll be making these again…

I know, they look way more like profiteroles than éclairs, mais ça m’est égale! I don’t care! I wanted to make bite-sized éclairs, which explains their look. There had to be at least one chocolate component, either the glaze or the pastry cream or both. I’ve never been a big fan of chocolate pastry cream, so I opted for lemon custard instead. Rather than pipe in the scrumptious pastry cream, I sliced them in half to allow for generous helpings of cream, and made little éclair sandwiches. For the glaze I made a chocolate-lemon royal icing, and the lemon and chocolate really paired well together.

I would like to extend a huge thanks to Catherine of Food Snob for sharing the vegan éclair recipe she found – Merci Catherine! Tu es adorable! The recipe which follows is so fast and easy. I made the pastry cream and the glaze while the éclairs were in the oven and I think the entire challenge took me a mere hour and some change (with the “help” of my 3-year-old) which was a nice little break from the very elaborate challenges we’ve had of late (which I also like, but hey, quick & delicious is good, too, right?).

Don’t forget to check out the Daring Bakers Blog Roll to see all the éclair goodness out there!

Vegan Éclairs

1 batch custard or pastry cream (I used the recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking).

1 batch chocolate glaze (I used the Royal Icing recipe also from TJOVB but added 3 tbsp of dutch processed cocoa powder)

Ingredients (use vegan versions):
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (or baking powder) – I used 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons margarine
equivalent of 4 eggs (2 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer whipped until stiff with 1/3 cup water)
1 cup soy milk


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare baking sheet–either parchment paper or a non-stick pan. Prepare egg-replacer. Stir together flour, vegan sugar, salt, cream of tartar. In a sauce pan (non-stick works well), bring the soymilk and margarine to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the flour all at once, and reduce heat to low. Stir constantly until the dough forms a ball that pulls away from the pan and the spoon and is glossy and smooth. Working quickly, remove from heat and add the Ener-G Egg Replacer, about a third at a time, beating well after each addition until the dough is glossy, smooth, and pulls away from the pan.

Shape the puffs as desired–I made mini-puffs about a rounded teaspoon each. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350 for another 10 minutes, then turn off oven and allow to cool, with door slightly cracked for another 20 minutes, then cool completely on wire racks before serving or filling.

Jen’s Birthday Apron

My very best friend Jen turns 30 today! I have never had a friend like her, nor have I ever been through so many things, from the dramatic and traumatic to the blissful and fantastic, with anyone else. I wish I could have toasted to her “live”, but she is in Arizona and I’m not. Sigh.

Despite the fact that we’re thick as thieves, she isn’t a regular reader of my blog (she works in IT and doesn’t do anything in front of a computer screen that isn’t absolutely necessary, which I totally understand…we don’t even really email, we just call – woo hoo unlimited free long distance!), which means I can show off her birthday present which I sent off to her today.

What I miss the most about my Jenniefish is porch-sitting, hanging out on weekend evenings, usually with Jen whipping up something tasty and me opening wine bottles and keeping wine glasses full (because the Shellyfish did no food preparation until just three years ago…and I haven’t lived on the same continent as Jen in 5!). We’d sit outside in the warm pueblo, reinventing the world together… Jen is still often found entertaining post-work cocktails-cum-dinners, so an apron seemed like the perfect gift. She is, like me, always spilling and wearing what she is making or drinking, so this will help keep her clean, and she’s got two pockets for matches to light candles on the patio table, or to carry a bottle opener, her secret decoder ring…

I really wanted to make an apron with gathers at the waistband so I consulted my newly acquired Bend The Rules Sewing by Amy Karol and it was so flipping easy to do! It’s so funny how we think what we don’t yet know how to do is so crazy hard. Not the case at all. I like Amy’s blog Angry Chicken, and also happened upon her “apron blog” Tie One On which has a sometimes-monthly apron making theme/event. This time around it happened to be gingham, which is what this little flirty apron is made of (I actually bought the fabric to make something cutesy for my soon-to-be-born niece, but it preferred to be an apron. Not my fault) so I have submitted it to Amy’s Tie One On flicker group, to go up at the beginning of the month.

And don’t you love my little felt appliqués? Un repas sans vin, est comme une nuit sans étoiles… a meal without wine is like a night without stars…

Happy Birthday, Jen. I love you!

Raw Tuesdays! Mardi tout cru!

I am still your Raw Connection for Tuesdays…but I didn’t manage to post last night, so let’s just pretend that it’s Tuesday, shall we? Merci!

No surprise here! (Liz, stop drooling! I know how these babies affect you!). This was my almost last one…I might have one more left…that I brought back from my still-not-properly-posted about North American vacation. I’ll probably be making more of these soon to fill in the void. I also think it’s time for me to try to make some other raw bars. I mean, the ingredients list on the Lärabar package is usually like two to three things long : cashews, dates. I must be able to figure this out. And look at my wound! I nearly cut a hunk of my thumb off in a bizarre onion chopping incident. Horrible. Gruesome. I wanted a Dora bandage, but I couldn’t find them in the medicine cabinet…

For lunch I re-visited the Japanese Mushroom soup I posted about here, because I had such great memories of it being delish about two weeks ago. It was delish last time, but this time it left something to be desired. I think my disappointment came from some slight changes I had to make to the recipe – only used one kind of mushroom, you can’t get Braggs here so I fudged my marinade, and while I used sweet white miso the first time, this time I used the darker, evil cousin, brown rice miso. I did manage to eat two big bowls (of mostly mushrooms), but am ashamed to say the broth went down the toilet the next day. I hate the waste, but did figure out what I liked about that particular recipe!

Now for the very cool “new favorite thing” discovery of this installment of Raw Tuesdays :

These delicious little gems are called “Carob Confections” and they are from a raw food book I picked up while in the U.S. called The Raw Gourmet by Nomi Shannon. Nomi rocks. Hard. This is a slim volume but packed with full-color glossy punch. It’s so great to have pictures of the food, and not of the author! (Nomi has a tasteful little pic next to her bio, and that’s it. Congrats on having your priorities straight Ms. Shannon). These were made in like 5 minutes, rolled in almond meal, and devoured! They became my favorite snackie-poo, dessert, and post-run breakfast today. They reminded me more of truffles than anything I’ve ever had, besides truffles I mean.

For dinner, I made some of the Spicy Pecans from Ani’s Raw :

These were simple and delicious, a nice addition to my big, huge dinner salad :

The sweet glaze on the pecans eliminated any need for a dressing, so this is just tons of shredded carrots (I love shredded carrots), corn cut from the cob, batavia lettuce, diced green onion, raw sesame seeds, and yes, you’re not hallucinating, avocado! As most of you know I tend to avoid avocados because though I LOVE them, they aren’t so very local. When I went to the marché (the outdoor market for you kids playing at home) my usual vendor who never, ever has avocados had a huge bin of them and they were 3 for 2E! Let me tell you folks, that’s muy cheap here in France. I caved and loved every luscious bite!

My Raw Summary for this Tuesday : eating raw once a week has really helped me to be more mindful about all the other crap I eat all week long. I like to pride myself in being a healthy vegan, but let’s face it, cupcakes are not healthy. I also like that it reminds my body what true hunger feels like, as it is not to be confused with “being in the mood” for a cookie or some of that warm baguette I just bought.

Iron Cupcake World – Inaugural Challenge : Chili-Citrus Cupcakes con Orange Confit

This is the first-ever Iron Cupcake Earth challenge, and when I saw that our challenge ingredient was Chili, I was immediately transported from my provençial French home to the warm, lush city of Guadalajara, Mexico. (Ok, I don’t have some sort of monopoly on teleportation, I meant in my mind.) During my graduate work at the University of Arizona I promised myself I’d participate in their Summer in Guadalajara program where you get to hang out in one of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities in the gorgeous country of Mexico, take in the culture by living with a host family, and hablo & estudiar by taking Spanish classes. After a few years of living near the Mexican boarder and taking the odd Spanish class I was really excited to actually experience Mexico in an authentic way, rather than just heading with friends Puerto Peñasco and hanging out at the taco stand & lounging on the beach all weekend…

I lucked out and lived with a really lovely family for six weeks, soaking up all the culture & cuisine possible. My family had four daughters, ranging in ages from 10 to 24 and they were as diverse as could be and made my time with their family truly memorable. One of our favourite snacks when I was there was squirting fresh lime or orange juice onto watermelon hunks, then dusting with chili powder. It was heavenly. We would also do this with a very dense sort of a corn-flour lightly-sweetened chocolate cake which my Señora said was just a mistake she once made making a traditional cake but became a family favourite. I didn’t ask her for the recipe – don’t forget, up until about 2 years ago I didn’t even have a stove! I didn’t cook or bake, so I didn’t yet have that reflex. I hadn’t thought of those chili-spicy-sweet-tangy snacks in forever, and knew my mission was to embody the spirit of that délice in my cupcake.

I can’t get masa flour here in France, and it is a very special day when I can find real cornmeal, so I was a little stumped on how to recreate the texture of my host-Señora’s chocolate cakes, but looked up and saw a jar of almond meal on my shelves and had a moment of union with the universe! I started jotting down the draft for the cupcake recipe, but how to infuse it with the sweet tang of the citrus? Well, let’s get zesty! With my trusty zester in hand I got giggy with some limes & oranges, but a piece of the equation was missing… des orangettes! Or candied oranges or oranges confits! However you say it, it’s what I had in my imagination. I’d never even thought of trying to make something like that, but I did have a big, beautiful bowl of oranges on my kitchen table…

The Iron Cupcake Challenge really became a true challenge for me. I have but rarely created a pastry recipe, generally relying on my favourites from my cookbooks. I felt like some sort of vegan pastry explorer and it was thrilling. I also really got my kicks making the orangettes – if someone a few years ago told me I’d be hootin’ it up on a Friday night making candied oranges I’d have said “balderdash!”, but there you go. It was surprisingly gratifying seeing how well they turned out, and how easy they were to make. I was as giddy as a teenager who sees her high school crush (this could have been from the Saint Emilion I was sipping though…). I am thrilled to say in all sincerity that these cupcakes were (cause they are so gone) amazing, some of the best I’ve ever, ever made. I did end up making two batches to try to get the right amount of chili pepper taste, but both batches were delicious – the first one only had the slightest hint of heat. It was the texture that really had me bluffed – the almond meal gave these cakes this wonderful mouth-feel that allowed for a very light and airy crumb, but a more toothsome bite. The frosting was also just perfect (if you love chocolate…). They have a very complex flavour, but not a “bite”. My 3-year-old loved them and wasn’t overwhelmed by the spice at all.

Following are the recipes you need to recreate this deliciousness. After that is some voting info if you’d like to vote me into the upper-class of Iron Cupcake Challengeness & help me maybe win a prize. The prizes are pretty sweet : the talented CAKESPY is contributing, as is JESSIE STEELE APRONS, CUPCAKE COURIER, and TASTE OF HOME. I really like prizes, just sayin’…

Chili-Citrus Cupcakes con Orange Confit

1 batch Candied Oranges for garnish. The recipe I used is here. I blanched the orange zest three times. Reserve 2 tbsp of your syrup for frosting.

1 batch Double-Chocolate Chili-Citrus Frosting (see below)


1 C. AP flour

1/2 C. Almond Meal

1/2 C. Dutch Processed Coco

1/4 C. Brown Sugar

1/4 C. Xylitol

1/2 C. Sugar

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 teaspoons Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon Cardamom

1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon Salt

Up to 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne (a 1/4 teaspoon will still give you a little a good dose of chili spirit)

1 tablespoon Lime Zest

1 tablespoon Orange Zest

3 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer

1 Cup Soymilk

1/3 Cup plus 2 tablespoons Canola Oil

1 teaspoon Almond extract

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

* Using an electric mixer, blend the egg replacer until well-blended and frothy, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

* Sift all the dry ingredients EXCEPT the almond meal in a large mixing bowl. After sifted, stir in the almond meal.

*Add the remaining wet ingredients and the citrus zests to the egg replacer and mix well, then add the dry ingredients in two or three batches and mix until well blended.

*Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for about 15 to 20 mins. at 350F. Watch carefully if you use the Xylitol because it can be sneaky and burn up on you.


1/2 cup non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

2/3 cups Dutch Processed cocoa powder

1 teaspoon Cayenne (opt.)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange extract

1 teaspoon lime zest

2 tablespoons orange sugar syrup (from candied oranges)

1 or 2 tablespoons water or non-dairy milk, as needed to thin frosting

*Sift the powdered sugar, cocoa, and Cayenne together and set aside. Cream the butter until light and fluffy, then add the sugar mixture in two or three batches until fluffyness has been regained. Then add your extracts, syrup, and milk/water if necessary.

*Frost cupcakes, decorate with the orangettes, and lightly dust with cinnamon.

Iron Cupcake Earth

Like I needed another excuse to make cupcakes…

I’d noticed the little Iron Cupcake logo popping up here and there, but it wasn’t until the lovely Marika of Madcap Cupcake posted her allegiance to the Iron Cupcake that I decided to find out what all the fuss was about.

Here’s the dealy-o : every month there’s a theme ingredient and you get to pick your own recipe and play with it to match the theme. Then you make your cupcakes. And you eat them, too… Oh, and you blog about what you’ve made, and just for doing that you could win amazing prizes like cool stuff from Cakespy, Jessie Steele Aprons, Cupcake Couriers and Taste of Home! Prizes for making and eating cupcakes?! Life is good my friends… This is the first challenge, so you too could be one of those cool peeps who months from now will declare “I’ve been an Iron Cupcake since the beginning, baby!”.

I’d like to stress that this is a very VEGAN FRIENDLY type of event because you chose your own recipe, one you like, know, are familiar with, whatevah. You won’t be converting/changing up pre-destined recipes. Woo-hoo!

To join, you must answer the following questions very carefully. Choose your answers carefully. You can do it…

City, State, Country
Blog Address
Flickr Name
Referral: Musings From The Fishbowl

Send this info to IronCupcakeEarth@wi.rr.com by midnight tonight, August 20, and you’ll be eligible for really chic prizes like a super-cool t-shirt from Cakespy or a hand-crafted necklace from Peggy of The Glass Chef. Yes, you read correctly, prizes just for signing up to make some cuppas!! Crazy, I know. But good crazy.

So sign up! Hurry! Let’s make some cupcakes!

Raw Tuesdays & Blogroll Updates

I was more diligent about maintaining my “Raw Tuesdays” commitment than blogging during the last leg of my U.S. visit. I’ve done a few raw meals & snacks before, I must say, I found it to be much easier – and more fun – to organize a day’s worth of raw food with another willing and motivated participant – in this case my younger brother. We had fun looking through recipes the day before, dividing up the prep-work, and our schedules worked out in such a way that we could share our meals.

This is actually a two Tuesdays worth of food, hope you’re hungry!

The pre-run snack : sometimes just a glass of almond milk, or maybe half a Lärabar. I really liked the Key Lime Pie variety, though I didn’t really think it actually tasted like Key Lime Pie!

Post-run breakfast on Raw Tuesdays has been the other half of the Lärabar and fruit or a green smoothie. Here it’s just a simple fruit bowl with a fresh peach, a cup of blueberries, fresh almond milk, and a small handfull of gogi berries (which I’d never had until this trip. I’d never been able to find them where I live). Love them!

The Sun-Dried Tomato Marinara from Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen became one of our favourites, and we found ourselves making on non-raw days, too! We served it over zucchini or summer squash “pasta” which we made with a simple vegetable peeler, and it was really impressive. It had a lot of character and dimension, which was a happy surprise since I was concerned it would just taste like tomato juice! The only thing to watch for with this sort of dish is the “pasta” begins to lose water, so it can get a little sloppy! The weather was running into the 90sF pretty much every day I was in Southern MI and this was a very refreshing dish.

This is the Japanese Miso Soup, also from Ani’s Raw, and it is seriously da bomb! We just devoured this stuff, it was that good. I was more than a little sceptical about what looked like water and mushroom soup, and as we were tasting the broth it pretty much tasted like water and mushrooms. We were trying to figure out a way to amp the flavour, and we added a cucumber which we blended with the broth and voila! It brought things together in a most excellent way! That said, it was, as is often the case with raw dishes, very sort of intense after a while…

This raw Veggie Chili from Gone Raw was a fun sort of experiment. It was good, but really, really rich. I think that if I were try it again I would really finely chop everything, and probably add a little more liquid. We didn’t have any avocados on hand when we made it, and I think that they would have lightened it up. I would also add some fresh corn from the cob, too.

Here is a close-up of one delicious frozen dessert! It was supposed to be made with blackberries, but we only had blueberries and raspberries, so this Walnut Cream Cake with Raspberry Jam is only slightly adapted from Gone Raw. We were using desserts more as our 4 o’clock snack (ou notre quatre heures pour nos amis francophones) and for a post-dinner snack (which I never, ever do, but on these raw days I find that I’m rather starving before going to bed).

My general feeling about my Raw Tuesdays so far is that it takes a huge amount of planning (because of soaking, maranades, etc.) and that’s a little bit of a downer (this is coming from someone who makes  & bakes most everything from scratch, and is accostomed to planning balanced meals). I find that I’m pretty hungry at random times, but that’s pretty normal since I’m eating a little less in calories, but the big downer is hitting around 5pmish when I feel very fatigued and am starving. I don’t generally eat dinner until 7 or 8pm, so I have been trying to have a larger snack at 4pm to fight this. Either way, it’s a great experience, an exercise in discipline, and it’s fun!

As for my blogroll goes, it is desperately in need of an update, and I know that there are many blogs which I visit regularly that aren’t rubbing elbows with the others on the list. Please feel free to drop me an email or a comment if you don’t see yours up there and I’ll add it post haste!

And….We’re Back!

After wrapping up my long & lovely vacation in the U – S – of – A I am now back chez moi with my adorable Mr. Fish and am trying to sort through weeks of mail, suitcases, and adjust to the Guppy’s maladjustment to the time difference between France & North America! It was amazing to see my family who I just don’t get to hang with all that often, but I am SO excited to be home! It was so wonderful to see the Guppy bond with my family, and despite maintaining my 40-mile-a-week running average, I still managed to pack on nearly 2kg which I believe are primarily composed of pinto beans, green chilés and blue corn chips (all North American indulgences I just can’t easily find here!). Once I get my poop in a group I’ll have more food & fun to share…but for now here’s a little peek at what became my family’s favourite sweet treat.

Maybe you were abducted by aliens, or perhaps, simply suffering from what is referred to as “missing time”, but if you missed Melisser’s Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler with lovely video over at Julie Hasson’s Everyday Dish, well…get on over there kids! This cobbler was one of the best I’ve ever had, and I loved that it was more fruit-heavy than batter-heavy. Since I was sans cookie-cutters, but wanted to do something fun with the biscuits, I went with the Flying Saucer theme, because I’m a nerd…

One very fun thing about being on vacation near health food supermarket type stores meant I got to indulge in some vegan ice cream! The only vegan ice cream I ever eat is usually what I make myself (in that artisans non-ice cream maker way), but being on vacation I opted for the easy way out with some Soy Delicious vanilla, which complemented our U.F.Os :

I know I’ll make this for Mr. Fish once I shake off the jet-lag because I’m such a sweetie. It has nothing to do my wanting some. Of course.