Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Cupcakes That Saved New York

Today L'Ailee and I are just chilling. Yesterday, we enjoyed the sports-less, work-less weekend by going to the Siren Festival at Coney Island. She loves electronica and classical; I love hip-hop and country. Neither of us really got what we wanted. Fun as it was to ride the Cyclone roller coaster to the accompaniment of a live rock band below, we left early. We were so pathetically happy to get snacks to sneak into a movie theater and get there just in time for the last matinee showing of Inception. Total brain popcorn, but we wouldn't have felt cheated if we'd paid full price.

Even though it's mid-July, cupcakes and hockey dominated my Twitter timeline late last week. The New York Islanders, who I really want to stay in the area just because I hate the Rangers so so much and don't want them to be the only hockey team in town, gave a local businesswoman a contract to sell cupcakes during games. Other hockey teams' fans made fun, but they're probably just jealous. You don't get tons of food choices in a hockey arena.

I can't have their cupcakes (although I'm certain a few will be thrown at me and L'Ailee's direction should we show up in our Pittsburgh Penguins or Detroit Red Wings gear next season.) I can't have most cupcakes, because they contain eggs and I'm allergic to them. However, I could indulge in the Twitter hashtag trend that inevitably resulted. I tend to indulge in lots of Twitter hashtag trends. Oh, there was lots of fun to be had with #NHLCupcakes. These were mine:

Marc-Andre Fleury (Penguins, goalie): Sweet, flaky, often tasty, but OH GOD STAY IN THE WRAPPER!
Martin Brodeur (New Jersey Devils, goalie): Big enough to share with your sister.
Sidney Crosby (Penguins, center): It only looks super-sweet and plain vanilla.
Brooks Orpik (Penguins, defenseman): Comes with Free Candy sprinkles, may damage internal organs.
Daniel Carcillo (Philadelphia Flyers, wing): Can be eaten without incisors, but tainted with rat hairs.
And the one my wife liked best, requiring me to link to these more Red Wings fan-friendly ones:
The Detroit Red Wings: Bitter old ginger

Bet y'all can tell who I don't care for, even if you don't get the jokes!

As if that wasn't enough, Grub Street NY noted that just might be helping to save New York City's economy. No, really! Boy, are they popular here, almost as popular as the word "fuck." There are tons of cupcake shops, mostly owned by small-time entrepreneurs, with at least five employees apiece. Cupcakes are a relatively small, cheap indulgence, which goes over well in bad economic times. The people at Grub Street may be over them, but it's a good thing other New Yorkers aren't.

Given all this, I wanted some cupcakes. And what's better for saving the city than vegan cupcakes? L'Ailee bought me vegan chocolate-orange cupcakes from one of those many cupcake shops for my birthday in March, but she can't remember which one. So really, my only choice is to get baking. (Hey, grocery stores need support, too!)

Non-vegetarians tend to get all lemon-faced at the mention of vegan baked goods, but remember, if I'm going to be eating them, I can't really bake anything else. To make these, I blatantly ripped off a moist, tasty cake recipe at the Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen, poured it into a cupcake pan, then ripped off an orange frosting recipe from Southern Food. These don't rise quite as high as regular cupcakes, but you won't care. L'Ailee and her best friend sure as hell didn't!

Vegan Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup soy yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (I used Florida's Natural with pulp instead, because it's summer.)
2 tablespoons grated orange peel

Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray and dust the cups lightly with unsweetened cocoa. Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, vanilla, balsamic vinegar, water, and orange juice. Beat by hand or with a mixer on low speed just until well-combined, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the grated orange peel, and pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then pull out, using a knife if necessary. Cool the rest of the way on a wire rack. Then ice with...

Orange Frosting

4 tablespoons softened margarine
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons orange juice
finely grated zest of 1 orange

Beat margarine with vanilla until light and well blended; beat in powdered sugar slowly. Add a few tablespoons of orange juice and the orange zest. Beat and add more orange juice as needed to make the frosting spreadable.

Hungry yet? No, I don't know which hockey player or team those cupcakes should be compared with.

Links that don't involve cupcakes or hockey:

Enjoy your chocolate now, because it's about to get more expensive.

Rupert Murdoch's paywalls for the UK-based Newscorp websites don't seem to be working out for them.. Awwww....

A teacher resigned after people complained about her anointing students with "holy oil." A good part is that local Christian leaders found it inappropriate, too.

Scary photos from the Himalayas show that climate change is happening, really fast.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets bummed out after hearing a friend or relative's problems. This article about "secondhand blues" may help.

Bejeweled is one of the few computer games I play, so I enjoyed these fun facts about it.

Finally, I got to watch this song performed live last weekend by these guys, at the OkayAfrica concert. Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew bring the latest dance craze, straight from Sierra Leone: the Jacky Jacky! Honestly, despite the 80s production values in the video, this thing will get into your head, in a good way.


Dorminic said...

This cupcake thing is getting way out of hand... It's been almost a week & I'm still haven't had my quota of the sweet stuff yet...

But yeah, the hashtags sure were fun... I only wish I was more familiar with the in-jokes in the league so I can crack some more. Like your Orpik one... That was gold.

bluzdude said...

Love your cupcake ideas. It's funny about the cupcakes because when we were on vacation in Florida, my brother was expounding on the invention of the cupcake:

"The man that invented the cupcake was a genius!" It's a CUP... filled with CAKE!!

BostonPobble said...

I read an article about a year ago now that the next bubble could very well be the Cupcake Bubble. Apparently this is a new trend nationwide, not just in NYC, for all the reasons you listed.

Raven said...

Now I want cupcakes. But not vegan ones. Sorry.