| Recipes |

Vegan Cupcake Recipe: Leaving the Nest Almond / Caramel / Chocolate Cupcakes

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Earlier this month, while some high school seniors were ditching classes to catch up on lost episodes of 16 and Pregnant (it's too addictive to avoid), one impressive Nova High School senior took pen to paper and later spatula to bowl to craft the perfect sticky sweet sendoff as she leaves her family to go off to college: her Leaving the Nest cupcake.

The fluffy almond cupcake with a caramel filling (and freaking spun sugar nest, people) ended up being such a success that Emily Senderey took home a $5,000 scholarship as the winner of the Vegalicious Vegan Recipe Contest at Sublime. Good news for the folks - Senderey plans on heading to University of Miami so the cupcakes will only be a Tri-Rail trip away.

Here, she shares her recipe that can be equally enjoyed as a going away gift for someone special or devoured solo in the privacy of your newly empty nest. Recipe as follows....

Leaving the Nest
A light and fluffy almond cupcake, with a "creamy" caramel filling, dipped in a thin layer of an almond infused chocolate ganache, and topped with a spun sugar nest with a candied almond in the center. 

This cupcake represents the unlimited opportunities of a new beginning for seniors or anyone who is "leaving the nest," or starting something new. Everyone has the potential to be extraordinary.

Almond cake:
3 cups of flour
2 cups of vegan cane sugar
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1teaspoon of salt
2 cup of Almond Breeze original milk
1 cup of almond oil
4 teaspoons of almond extract
4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
24 unbleached TCF large baking cups

First sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Wisk together almond breeze, almond oil, almond extract, and vinegar. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until the mixture is homogeneous.Line 24 cupcake pans with baking cups and pour batter into each cup until ¾ full.Bake for 15 minutes or until the cupcakes have risen and a toothpick inserted comes out clean at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Caramel filling:
¾ cup of nut cream *
6 ounces of vegan gourmet cream cheese
2 cups of vegan cane sugar
2/3 cup of water
½ cup (1 stick) of earth balance vegan buttery sticks

Mix nut cream and cream cheese until homogeneous. Combine sugar and water in a heavy medium sauce pan on medium high heat until the sugar dissolves. Then bring the sugar water to a boil without stirring the mixture, but instead swirling the pan until it is a dark amber color (about 7 minutes). Then add the cream cheese mixture 1/3 a cup at a time. Once all of the "cream cheese" mixture melts in, add the butter and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and cool filling stirring every 8 minutes.

Almond infused chocolate ganache:
10 oz of vegan semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup of nut cream*
1 tablespoon of light corn syrup
1 teaspoon of almond extract

Melt chocolate into a double broiler along with the nut cream and agave syrup. Once completely melted, cool the mixture and mix in the almond extract.

*Nut cream
2/3 cup of unsalted almonds
2/3 cup of unsalted cashews
4 cups of water
5 tablespoons of canola oil
2 table spoons of agave syrup
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
1 ½ cups of water

Combine nuts and water in a small sauce pan covered and boil for 15 minutes. Pour nuts and water into a blender and add the next three ingredients. Blend until smooth, adding enough water until the almond cream reaches the same thickness as heavy cream.

Spun sugar & Candied almonds:
1 cup of unshelled almonds
2 cups of vegan cane sugar
½ cup of light corn syrup
½ cup of water

Arrange three rolling pins hanging over a counter top and oil them with canola oil for to "spin" the sugar. Also, for the candied almonds, apply wax paper on a baking sheet and spread the almonds.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium sized sauce pan over medium high heat until the sugar dissolves. Then cover the pan and increase the heat to high, boiling for 3 minutes. Remove the cover and boil until the mixture turns into a light golden color. Remove from heat and poor 1/3 of the mixture over the prepared almonds.

Then, with a fork, separate the sugar coated almonds from the sugar mixture. With the rest of the sugar mixture lightly dip a whisk into the sugar and quickly swing it back and forth over the three rolling pins. Don't apply too much of the liquid on the whisk or else you will lose chunks of the sugar mixture.

After obtaining a good amount of sugar strands, pull the sugar from the rolling pins, break it into 7 inch lengths and form into a nest. Continue these steps for the rest of the sugar mixture. If the mixture begins to harden just put it back on the stove top at a medium high heat until it thins out. 

Putting the cupcakes together:
After the almond cup cakes have cooled, remove the center of the cupcake (I use an apple corer, discard. Then, fill the center with 2 tablespoons of the caramel filling. After filling the cupcakes, dip the cupcakes into the chocolate ganache to obtain a thin layer. The last step is to arrange the sugar nest on top of the cupcake, and put the candied almond in the center.

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