Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chocolate fixes everything!

Weekends. They absolutely do not last long enough. Or come often enough.

This past weekend was great so it somewhat made up for the general lack of weekend time lately.

Lots of beautiful weather. Lots of yummy food. Lots of time with my fabulous husband.

And chocolate cupcakes. Heck yeah. What more could a girl want?

Shoes....obviously....or precious jewels....but let's be realistic.

Preston and I had our first date in Gruene, Texas several years ago. We spent the day walking around little shops and then drank a beer at Gruene Hall and listened to some good ol' country music. Gruene Hall is Texas' oldest dance hall. Not sure if anyone else remembers but this is where the scene from "Michael" was filmed where John Travolta danced. Good movie.

Saturday was also "Market Days" in Gruene so there were extra things to see.

We ate lunch at The Gristmill, I love this restaurant!!

Just a note: the restaurant is huge, right on the rive and the food is great. But the wait to get a table can be LONG. We got there at just the right time and were seated immediately. They do have a great little bar and outside area to wait but don't wait until you're starving to get a table.

We started out with one of their homemade salsas, the Garlicky Salsa, and amazing tortilla chips. Sadly I didn't take a picture. I think we ate them too fast.

Preston had the Beef Tenderloin Sandwich with a side of fries...YUM.

As he was eating there was so much meat that it was falling out of the bun. Can't beat that! I was really trying to stay true to eating well so I chose the Spinach Salad - it usually comes with chicken but I ordered it without - it did NOT disappoint.

This salad was HUGE. And delicious. Lots of fresh baby spinach, Greek olives, red bell pepper, bacon crumbles and feta cheese - all topped with a creamy vinaigrette. I couldn't finish it. I will admit that next time I will order it without the bacon. That's just me though.

We meandered through the shops and Market Days tents and then headed home late in the afternoon. It was a wonderful day!!

Sunday, after church, we ended up at Red Robin. I remembered that they have a Boca Burger and a Garden Veggie Burger on their menu so I wanted to test it out.

The simplest way for me was to build my own. I chose the Gardenburger on marbled rye bread, pickles, tomatoes and avocado. It was good. I was happy and since this is one of Preston's favorite places to eat, well let's just say he can still eat his Royal Red Robin.

Now let's talk cupcakes.

Chocoate. Vegan. Cupcakes.


I found the original recipe on Pinterest and I was excited to find a vegan chocolate recipe. I have several cookbooks saved on my Wishlist on and a few of them are vegan baking books but this saved waiting for someone to buy one of them for me! I halved the recipe and added to the frosting to get my cupcakes. I also made slight changes to the original recipe.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes - makes 2 dozen

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 3/4 cup almond milk
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 2/3 cup coconut sugar (or regular)
1 1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Put all of the dry ingredients in a bowl (except the sugar).

Sift the ingredients twice.
Whisk the wet ingredients with the sugar. The original recipe calls for "superfine" sugar. The coconut sugar is a little heavier so running it through the food processor might be a good idea for next time. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Fill the cupcake cups.
Bake at 315 for 18 to 20 minutes.
While the cupcakes are cooling let's make frosting. Oh how I LOVE frosting.

Dark Chocolate Vegan Frosting

This makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes - generously. I would definitely at least double up if making 2 dozen.

1 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
2 cups powdered sugar
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
1/4 cup almond milk

Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe dish. Set aside to cool.
Cream the shortening and sugar together.
Add the cooled chocolate. Add milk gradually until you reach the desired consistency.

So a few notes:

I used coconut sugar.
Little Sister gave this to me a few weeks ago but I finally found it at my local HEB. Note to everyone - it isn't cheap and the package is small. You use it just like regular sugar BUT it is low on the glycemic index. For those who don't know what that means - it means it's better for diabetics. Not that it gives us open season on sugar but it releases slower into the blood stream which helps my blood sugar to not spike so quickly and so high. Excellent. You could use regular sugar in this recipe but I need to test using Splenda and the Splenda/Sugar combination. 

This is the chocolate I used.

I'm not using vegan chocolate chips BUT because of the higher Cacao percentage on these chips it is better than using milk chocolate.I read the label and although milk is not listed as an ingredient the label warns that these are made on a machine that comes into contact with milk - so there might be a little. I know it's just a warning but for some that's important!

These cupcakes were YUMMY. For my diabetic friends - these are NOT sugar free so don't pretend they are. La la la....why is my blood sugar 185??? Powdered sugar. Frosting is not my friend but I love it. They were pronounced good by all but I found them slightly dry. Might be I baked them a bit too long or maybe they need a little more moisture in the mix. I will play some more when I make them again.

A great end to a fabulous weekend. More good things on the menu this week so stay tuned!!!

Hugs & kisses.....

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