Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vegan chocolate orange cupcakes, for Halloween

I feel like this post needs two disclaimers. The first is an apology to those of you who dislike chocolate-orange flavour combinations. I know there are a few of you out there. I beg forgiveness in the context of Halloween and all its orange glory!


The second disclaimer, though, is that I am not actually a fan of Halloween in Australia. This is sure evidence that I am turning into my mother, who has always held the view that it is an American tradition that Australia doesn't need to adopt. As a child, I thought this was utterly foolish. Why wouldn't we want a tradition that provides an excuse to dress up and obtain sweets and chocolates? Now, as an adult, I rather see her point. It is a bit dispiriting to see our supermarkets revel in another commercialised holiday.

And yet - I have made Halloween cupcakes. I am pretty sure that puts me on very low moral ground. I blame this on Workplace #2, which is hosting a Halloween cupcake morning tea tomorrow. I don't get very involved in workplace social events, but cupcake baking is something I can do.

Given my conflict between not really believing in Australian Halloween and nonetheless making Halloween baked goods, I was interested to read Wikipedia's entry on the history to Halloween celebrations. I hadn't realised that it stems from "All Hallow's Eve", the evening of All Hallow's or All Saints' Day, which is a Christian commemoration of those who have attained salvation in Heaven. Halloween may also have ties with Western European harvest festivals and/or pagan Celtic celebrations.

In light of the above, I have decided that I'm celebrating a harvest festival. My celebrations include chocolate orange cupcakes with chocolate liquorice spiders.

Hello!

These cupcakes are an orange twist on my standard, no-fail vegan chocolate cupcakes. They are very easy. I used orange juice in the cupcakes and orange essence in the icing, but you could be more consistent and use juice or essence for both components if you prefer. The decorations are also vegan, with the spiders consisting of Droste's 70% cocoa pastilles and finely sliced liquorice. They were very fun to make, even if they look a bit more like suns than spiders!



Chocolate orange cupcakes for Halloween

Vegan, fluffy and just slightly orange-y
Adapted from my chocolate cupcakes, which were in turn adapted from the Red Velvet Cake recipe in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Vegan Table

Makes 12 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:
Ingredients
Juice of 1 medium orange (~1/3 cup) (see note)
2/3 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond)
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup good quality cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

Note. You want 1 cup of liquid, so adjust the milk amount depending on how much orange juice you get from your orange. If you don't have fresh oranges available, you can also use 1 cup milk and 1 - 2 tsp orange essence.

Method
Preheat oven to 180'C and prepare your cupcake tin.

In a medium bowl, combine the juice, milk, sugar, oil and vinegar, and beat with an electric beater on medium speed for 1 - 2 minutes.

Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and mix well. 

Bake for 20 - 22 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back slightly when touched.


For the icing:
Ingredients
50g non-dairy spread, at room temperature (I use Nuttelex)
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp orange essence
1/2 tbsp water

Method
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with an electric beater on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

For the spider decorations:
Cut liquorice pieces into narrow spider-leg strips. Arrange eight 'legs' per cupcake and top with a chocolate medallion. Pipe on red eyes if desired.



What are your views on Halloween? What about chocolate-orange flavours?

For those of you on the east coast of North America, I also hope that you are safe and dry away from the worst of the weather systems - hopefully with plenty of Halloween food to keep you going.

This (non-food!) post is part of my Vegan Month of Food contributions for October 2012. 



29 comments:

  1. These are so cute! I won't tell anyone you're participating in this American holiday ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. These look yummy! I wish that my icing would come out like that. :) Growing up I couldn't wait for Halloween to start. Dressing up and going out to get copious amounts of chocolate. Now? It's so different. I'm with you, I would rather celebrate harvest than halloween. If I have any kids come by the house, I am probably going to put protein bars in their bags! I live out in the country so I will probably not have many kiddo's. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the idea of you putting protein bars in Halloween bags!

      I use a piping bag for my icing, which I find makes a big difference in neatness. Without the bag, I'm pretty hopeless at icing!

      Delete
  3. I feel pretty crotchety about Halloween becoming a thing in Australia, too, because it's not being taken up for the historical meaning or origin, but because of fricking commercialisation, candy, and young girls who want an excuse to dress up as skanks. Ugh.

    That said, I do like candy. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's tricky, isn't it? History and avoiding commercialisation (and young girls in skanky clothes, ugh indeed) vs. candy. I'm pretty sure the commercialisation efforts play on this very dilemma :P

      Delete
  4. I was hoping Australia could avoid Halloween (like we always have done) but alas, like you say, the retailers see the dollar signs and so it's being marketed to us in bigger and bigger ways every year. And it's not even a holiday! You still have to go to work/school. I also baked for Halloween but only because I know there will be kids knocking on the door this afternoon and probably all night and I wanted to give them something better than lollies. Your cupcakes are so cute. Love your little spiders xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having now seen your cupcakes, I concur that they are much, much better than lollies :) You are very kind to your trick or treaters. As a bonus, you also kept some dollars from the retailers, or at least gave them dollars for baking produce instead of Halloween coloured sweets!

      Delete
  5. Oh these cupcakes are so cute! Somehow I was so focused on Frocktober I forgot about Halloween this year. Next year I might just have to make something as delightful as these. I'm sure they will go down a treat with your colleagues.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you had a good excuse, given your Frocktober efforts :) I am sure you can find an occasion for cupcakes another month!

      Delete
  6. These are adorable! I totally hear you on Halloween having some problematic elements, but I am just a sucker for cute holiday themed stuff (food especially)! I have always been resistant to chocolate and orange, but this makes me want to try it finally!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I go through phases with chocolate and orange, but my husband loves it, so I think it is growing on me gradually. I guess most things with chocolate I come around to eventually ;)

      Delete
  7. I love your Halloween cupcakes, they are very cute! I'm not really a fan of Halloween these days but I did enjoy trick or treating once when I was a child. The origins of Halloween are interesting, I remember reading about it a few years ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was really interested by the origins of Halloween - I really had no idea. I would like it more if the origins were remembered I think!

      Delete
  8. Those cupcakes are so cute :) I tried almond milk in a cake and it worked a treat :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, fantastic :) I have pretty much adopted it as my standard milk now, even since the unsweetened Almond Breeze one became available. I find it works well in most things - I'm glad you liked it too!

      Delete
  9. To be honest, I am not a fan of yet another commercialised event, but I think the tide has turned and it is coming whether I like it or not. I adore choc-orage and I love your spider cupcakes - they are tre cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, coming it is! We can resist though - I'm going with the whole harvest festival thing ;)

      Delete
  10. Love these cupcakes. I feel the same way as you about Halloween not being an aussie tradition but blogging sucks me in too. I love any excuse to make fun food but abhor all the commercialism that goes with it - and the idea of trick or treat just seems a bit disturbing - I love the dressing up but the idea of going and asking for lollies just seems wrong in so many ways. And as a kid it was just so unknown that I can't even remember understanding halloween very well. However, I love looking at the origins of these festivals and this one has a rich history that is well worth celebrating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The rich history is such a bonus find (given my ignorance in previous years) - it is such a shame it seems to have been lost. I might be more enthusiastic if the origins were actually acknowledged alongside the dressing up and trick or treating! I'm glad there are others that feel the same way, and I think blogging is a good excuse to have that stance but bake regardless ;)

      Delete
  11. I cannot agree with you more! I actually felt a little nervous with all of those people in costume walking our streets last night. Blood makes me woozey. I did enjoy baking for Halloween though. Your cupcakes look delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Cute cute cute.... I am a fan of the choc/orange combo for sure.... don't like choc/mint though, but that is irrelevant ;)

    Love that you used licorice - so good!

    I like your harvest festival take on things.... I may just adopt that, WAY better than crappy sugar-crap crap being scoffed by kids and young girls looking skanky ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Way better indeed!! I think harvest festival would fit in nicely with your stance on whole real foods too :-)

      I am a bigger fan of chocolate / mint than chocolate / orange actually, but am glad you share the orange love!

      Delete
  13. Festive, vegan, and delicious...can you get any better than that? I think not =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, when you phrase it that way... ;)

      Delete
  14. Cute cupcakes! I'm not a big believer in Halloween either and can blame my workplace too on making me want to partake in the festivities. Talk about being surrounded by a insanely large amount of junk food and candy for the last two days. I settled on stuffing a medjool date with peanut butter and chocolate chips, now that's my kind of candy bar!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is my kind of candy bar too! Yum :)

      Delete

I genuinely appreciate all comments and the time taken to post them. Occasionally, I may need to restrict commenting to registered users in order to halt large volumes of spam. If that happens, I will lift the restriction within a week.

Want other ways to interact? Bite-sized thoughts is on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/bitesizedthoughts) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/bitesizethought).