Sunday, July 4, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

Sirius A & Sirius B like.... PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY!

Vanilla cake with a jelly interior topped with peanut butter frosting

Sirius, which is the brightest star in the night sky is part of binary star system (compromised of Sirius A and Sirius B). Most stars are actually part of a binary star system! A mutual gravitational bond causes the two stars to elliptically orbit around one another. Sirius A is a white main sequence star while its companion, Sirius B is a faint white dwarf. Early in their lifespans, Sirius A & B were two bright bluish stars with Sirius B being the more massive of the two causing the star to quickly exhaust its resources eventually collapsing to a white dwarf star (~120 million years ago). Due to its prominence in the constellation Canis Major (Big Dog) Sirius is known as the Dog Star and the Ancient Greeks believed the appearance of Sirius foretold upcoming summer conditions therefore the season following Sirius' appearance became known as the Dog Days of Summer.

Let me just start by saying that I absolutely love these cupcakes! Peanut butter and jelly is a classic flavor combination that just can't be beat. As an added bonus, these delightful cupcakes are vegan! I cut back on the amount of sugar I put into the batter and instead opted to use a little agave nectar and maple syrup giving these cakes a warm rich taste without being overly sweet. I recommend using a high quality jelly to make them extra special, I used Bonne Mamman Four Fruit Preserves from Whole Foods.

I made these cupcakes to commemorate the 4th of July, I mean what is more American than a classic PB&J sandwich? I had a wonderful 4th of July, my friend Nick & I went on a fun road trip to Sulfur Springs (which is absolutely beautiful) and lounged in the hot springs for the better part of the day. We got some great Indian food for dinner and I must say that I never would have imagined that Indian food would be so tasty and authentic in a small mountain town. Then we finished off the day with fireworks in Winterpark.

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcakes:
I also think these cupcakes would be fabulous with a swirl of honey. Makes about 1 dozen.

Vanilla Vegan Cake:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/2 tablespoon light maple syrup
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Frosting:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup Earth Balance (or any vegetable oil spread), room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 - 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons coconut milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl combine agave nectar, maple syrup, coconut milk, oil, and vanilla.
4. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and beat until smooth.
5. Evenly distribute batter amongst baking cups and bake for 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Once the cupcakes have cooled cut a dome (about 1 inch in diameter) into the center of the cake using a very sharp knife; cut the tip of the cone off and set the top aside.
7. Fill each cake with about 1/2 - 1 tablespoon of jelly and replace the cone tops to the cupcake.

A picture I snapped of Venus from my balcony while the cupcakes were baking (I know, I am a complete amateur at astro-photography!)

The final product.... yum!!

Beat the peanut butter, Earth Balance, and vanilla together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add milk until desired frosting consistency. Top each with a small dollop of jelly.

Nick & I at Sulfur Springs

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