Who’ll be paying it forward? Oh, and receiving handmade love from the Shellyfish?

While our friends in the United States are stuffing themselves with tofurkey, mashed taters & gravy and pumpkin pie & soy whipped cream, I’m here slaving over a hot Random Number Generator to pick the lovelies who’ll be getting a little love from me…what *wouldn’t* I do for you, my blogger buddies for whom I am so thankful?


I’m truly technologically impaired and cannot figure out how to do that groovy little save the image thing to show you the Random.ORG page, but I’ve already spent too much time trying, and it’s not happening…so here you go – a nice old fashioned copied list :

  • 7
  • 6
  • 12
  • 1
  • 16

But who hides behind these numbers you ask?

Jeni Treehugger – Heathen Vegan

Tacha – Hanies

Natalia – Gatti Fili e Farina

Trina – Your Vegan Mom

Katie – Chocolate Covered Vegan

I know, I said I was only going to choose 3 people, but I’m so bad about just picking 3…even with the help of the cold, unfeeling website. Now I have to send 5 handmade gifts all over the world! But it’s ok, because I have 365 days to send them something! I don’t think I’ll wait an entire year…I’m hoping to craft something up in the first few months of 2009.

My little family’s celebration will be tomorrow… but if whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today, or you did in October, or never – I am always thankful for you and your blogs that I look forward to reading every day!

Paying It Forward…

A few days ago the Vegan Activist & Texas Sweetheart Amanda hosted a rather seasonal giveaway & new blogging event, and lucky me, I get to participate! Amanda is going to mail a few little parcels of handmade love & I’ll be one of the fortunate recipients.
There are so many lovely giveaways in blogland, bloggers eagerly commenting and abuzz with the excitement of winning an unexpected gift, but that’s it. Someone wins, and then the generosity comes to a screeching halt and we go on with our lives. Nice, but lacking in momentum. This giveaway is a little different, however, because the “receivers” are also to become “givers”, if you will. In fact, that’s the most important rule of the game…
The rules are simple: I will send three people who leave a comment on this post a handmade gift within the next 365 days. I am willing to post anywhere in the world, so don’t let that stop you from commenting.
The catch is that you must have a blog and be willing to do the same thing….

The original rules stipulate that it’s to be the first three to leave comments are to win a little love, but I don’t so much like that because it makes it seem all “rush rush” and “hurry” and “let’s be in a race to be winners!”, and this isn’t about competition or running to beat anything or anyone, unless I am running a race, which as you all know I won’t be doing for a while…
I also think it would be appropriate for the “receivers” to post once they have received their bobble of handmade love to share the joy with the rest of us! Part of what I love about this event is it’s helping to keep our precious blogosphere a generous, giving place, and seeing all these handmade, “not sponsored by a major corporation” packages of love arriving all over the world will be a bright and happy thing in the sometimes gloomy world, don’t you think?

I’m going to close the comments on this post on Wednesday, November 26th at 6 p.m. (approx.) Paris time. Using the random number generator to chose new participants, I’ll post their names on Thursday, November 27th in celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States – Happy Holidays to my friends & family living in the U.S.! Please be sure to mention in your comment if you are indeed willing to “Pay It Forward”, and commit to choosing at least three peeps on your own blog to receive a little “happy mail”. Also be sure to include your blog’s URL & email in the comment information!
Hurray for giving & receiving!

Memes, An Award & Some Lovely Giveaways

Check out these beautiful giveaways!


The marvelously talented Hanna is giving away a Collage Pack, filled with beautiful vintage pages from Sweden. Hanna’s blog is so inspiring, I can hardly keep myself from stopping everything and art journaling  (or I guess I should say beginning an art journal) whenever I read what she and her crafty mum have been up to! Visit her Etsy shoppe if you want some fantastic gift ideas (I love everything!). All you have to do is head over there and leave her a comment! Easy Peasy!


Modish is having a gihugic (totally a word) giveaway, too! Same thing kids, just go over and leave a comment! How easy is that? I am drooling over this stuff!


And you can try your luck over at Old Red Barn where you could win yourself one of three gorgeous quilts! Just what we need to keep us warm and to throw over the un-made bed to hide the mess!

Look what the lovely Miss Marie gave me :


This is my second Brilliante Award, so does this mean I’m extra-brillante? (I think they make cremes for that…).

I’ve recently been tagged for two fun memes by Allularpunk and HoneyB. I am here to say that I will not flake on these memes – and you my dear readers will hold me accountable! I will get to them pronto!

And yes, I have again changed my blog’s look. I’m having a bit of an identity crisis I think. I wish I was all HTML savvy and could just create my own look! Can’t I just embroider one? Tee hee.

I’m just crackers for the Inaugural “Alternative” Daring Bakers Challenge!

Don’t forget to leave a comment here to be entered into my little drawing for a felty-love pouch! You have until Oct. 1st!

This has been my most exciting Daring Bakers Challenge yet! Why, you ask? Because I got to be a “hostess-with-the-mostest!” (Have any of you seen Spinal Tap? Oh, wasted youth, how I miss thee…). Oh, and because we got to chose our recipe, I wasn’t confronted with subbing 27 eggs, because the recipe was VEGAN! Ha! It was also possible to do a Gluten Free variation, because darn it, we’re Alternative, and we’re worth it! :

When the gracious and talented Natalie of Gluten A Go Go asked me to co-host with her I was wonderfully surprised and terribly flattered. I’m a baby Daring Baker, and my inaugural Challenge, veganizing Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake, was my first real brush with a baking disaster (luckily my second attempt at Daringness was a success and my Tofu Cheesecake Pops rocked the casaba). It was during this second challenge that I “met” Natalie (during our Alternative Bake-Along) and started visiting her blog on a regular basis.

Working with Natalie on this project was pure joy! We were in sync from the very beginning, knowing we wanted to move away from the sticky-sweet challenges we’ve seen of late (though I love sweet, and I can’t wait for the next sugar-filled challenge!). There was also this bread vibe that passed between us, and from the beginning we moved towards baking bread or crackers, and Natalie suggested adding dips and spreads to the mix. We also knew that we wanted an easily convertible recipe so that our GF and Vegan Bakers wouldn’t have to re-invent the wheel!

Natalie mentioned Peter Reinhart, and I took advantage of my State-Side vacation to pick up his phenomenal (IMHO) book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which was, without exaggeration, life-changing for me! I couldn’t put it down, and fell deeper and deeper in love with the glossy photos of his venerable chef d’oeuvres. As a very new baker, I was reminded of my early ballet career and seeing the Bolshoi Ballet for the very first time – W-O-W! Once the two of us were armed with Apprentice, we were baking to beat the band : trying different recipes for their GF or Vegan-friendliness, trying to find the perfect fit between a clear, structured recipe, and the possibility to bake outside of the box and add one’s own creative stamp to the Challenge.

After baking many a bread, we decided on the Lavash Crackers (recipe at the end of this post), for their adaptability, their deliciousness, and their utility (everyone should make their own crackers at least once, right?). We sincerely hoped that because of the different toppings possibilities, the dough add-ins such as herbs or spices, and of course the multitude of GF and Vegan dips or spreads to accompany them with, that this challenge could truly be yours, so that it would be a pleasure to make as well as to eat!

I want to thank Natalie for allowing me this opportunity for culinary collaboration, something I’d never done before. I felt like I was in school again working on a project with a friend, and the many emails we shared over the summer months fine tuning our ideas were rich and entertaining. It’s thanks to my fellow Daring Baker that I discovered Reinhart and his fabulous book, and I’ve learned so many new things and become all the richer for it. Thanks also go out to our co-founders Lis and Yvonne, who gave us the green light for our idea, and who have made the blogosphere a much more tasty place to be! Thank you!

I’ve made these crackers five times since we decided on the recipe. I have made savory and sweet versions, once adding dried basil and rosemary to the savory dough and another time I added all spice and vanilla for a sweet version. I’ve rolled the dough thicker for a pita-like bread, and much thinner, more crackly crackers. I broke them apart to make shards, cut them into pita triangles, and used cookie cutters. I’m thrilled to have this recipe in my repertoire, and I hope you are, too!

You might be wondering why there are no pictures of my dips? Well, mostly because I just forgot to take them! I’m sorry, I was so concentrating on the cracker-aspect of the Challenge! I made hummus, homemade salsa, Thai Almond dip, Smokey Black Bean dip, and I don’t remember what else. I think because I make these things so often, they just didn’t seem very photo-worthy…?

I think what I most enjoyed (besides eating the crackers), was this Challenge (hopefully) helped dispel some of the clichés surrounding what “Vegan” means – often people have a rather reductionist vision of what we eat, and they think we dine on soy 3 times a day, and supplement with twigs and berries (ok, maybe not!), but my family doesn’t really eat much soy at all, and when we do, it’s usually in the form of tempeh (so less processed). Our diets consist of a vast variety of foods, mostly veggies, fruits, and grains…and desserts, too! So many of what are considered “comfort foods” in North America are vegan – chips & salsa, PB & J, and if you’re ever in France, stop by my place for a vegan apple pie – you’ll NEVER know the difference! There was a spirit of curiosity buzzing about the forums, and I was so proud to be a member of this Daring community where my fellow Bakers took the Challenge to heart and sincerely moved outside of their comfort zones (the way the Alternative Bakers do, too!).

Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Here’s a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids…It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)…

The key to a crisp lavash,…is to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a description of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.


4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt – a little goes a long way. If you want to pre-cut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

No Raw Thursday, No Iron Cupcake and No to Palin!

Don’t forget to leave a comment here to be entered

into my little drawing for a felty-love pouch!

Visiting in-laws means no Raw Thursday for the Shellyfish…proving true to form in my normal “I have to do everything really well so my in-laws love me” way, I’ve been very busy cooking & baking up a storm, and it just wouldn’t do for me to be eating a separate, raw meal at the same table… I’m working on showing how “normal” vegan cuisine really is, and while I don’t think raw cuisine is “weird” (ok, sometimes it IS), I do think it would appear a bit strange for me to be eating my Raw Tacos while they dine on the lasagna that is in the oven! JFTR (just for the record), my brother and sister-in-law are adorable, and they would love me even if I didn’t cook up a storm…it’s that perfectionist/over-achiever curse from being a ballet dancer all those years…not them! So, see you next Thursday for some raw goodness!

The Public Broadcasting System, or PBS, is the primary public and commercial-free channel in the United States (un peu comme ARTE ou France 5 mais sans les pubs). This channel provides many incredible educational programmes for children, excellent news coverage, and fabulous documentaries. There is a very un-scientific poll up on their web site asking people if they feel Ms. Palin is qualified…http://www.pbs.org/now/polls/poll-435.html you don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to realize that McCain’s feeble attempt at harvesting the female votes that would have perhaps gone to Hillary Clinton is a catastrope in the making…she may be a woman, and it’s always exciting to see more women in power, but she has a horrible environmental record, is not a pro-women’s rights voter, and has no experience with foreign policy AT ALL. Please click the link – it’ll take 20 seconds – and let your voice be heard! Oh, and check out the uber-talented Kindara and her fab Quilted Obama T-Shirt – because everything is political, our choices, our voices, and especially our art!

I have had too much on my baking pan this month, so I’m passing on the Iron Cupcake challenge for September (much to the chagrin of M. Fish). Please go check out some of these excellent entries from some of my favorite bloggers : The amazing Amanda braved post-Ike conditions to make her Basil-infused Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes, Diann has some adorable popcorn-decorated Peach Gazpacho Cupcakes, the Michigander (I love that word!) Maggie has some beautiful Basil-Citrus Cupcakes, and Sweet Potatoe has delicious Coconut Cupcakes with Mango-Basil filling and Coconut Frosting. Today is the posting deadline, so the hills will be alive with the sounds of cupcakes!

Going With The Grain

Fall – or some sort of more recent global warming type of version of it – has arrived here in France. It’s a wet and chilly 8c during my morning run, then it’ll shoot to 24c around lunch, then plummet down to 13c and begin gusting and raining for the afternoon…lovely, really, if you enjoy schizophrenic climate change. Me, not so much.

It’s actually rained, for at least 20 minutes or (much) longer, every day since September 1. Happily the one day sans pluie was Guppy’s first day of school, and that bright, welcoming sunshine did help everyone remain cheery. But that was only ONE day.

With this bizarre and dreadfully dreary weather comes the gradual change from my morning bright and bouncy green smoothies chock full of market fresh fruits and spinach, to more comforting, grounded breakfasts full of warming energy and sustenance.

One of my whole grain breakfast standards is just a multi-grain porridge. It’s like the food equivalent to soft and fuzzy flannel pajama pants – not terribly sexy, but comfortable, cosy and familiar. I soak a 1/4 cup each (or if your me, about two handfuls) of brown rice, steel cut oats, barley and wheat berries over night, then in the morning when I come in from my run I rinse it all well, cover it up with water, and bring it to a boil. Then I let it simmer for about 30 minutes while I stretch and shower, and voila : a hearty, warm breakfast. Sometimes I use amaranth. Or quinoa. Depends on what I have on hand and my mood I suppose.  Often topped with a dusting of nutmeg and cinnamon, some maple syrup, maybe some dried fruits and some almond or soy milk, this whole grain stew feels like something from my childhood, a sort of inexplicable genetic memory sort of home and hearth feeling. This does make a huge amount (if you’re the only one who eats it, which is my case) and while I know one shouldn’t dine on left-overs too terribly long, I love that this gets me three to five days of breakfasts which also helps cut down on the morning planning and stress, which is always welcome, whatever the weather.

My little multi-grain porridge isn’t very original, but it is my contribution to this month’s Weekend Breakfast Blogging hosted by the lovely Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen who choose the fabulous theme this month “Grains In My Breakfast”. Merci, Aparna! I realized I don’t have an actual picture of my porridge…I am just in love with the beauty of grains, and think they look so beautiful in their natural state – and so flannel pajamaesque when cooked…you know what it looks like anyway!

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.

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!