Say hello to Chocolate Sauerkraut Cupcakes, made with my very own cocoa powder.
The whole cacao beans came from Global Foods, my very own neighborhood international grocery, for a couple of bucks. The beans came from El Salvador and the instructions were minimal. "To prepare home made chocolate: Toast and peel the seeds. [oh! toast! I missed that until just now]. Add cinnamon and sugar to taste. Ground [sic] all ingredients."
It took forever to peel the beans -- but then again, it was perfect for dual-tasking in front of the TV. And when I ground the beans in the food processor, the result was more like grainy nibs of vanilla bean than a fine powder. Will I grind cocoa beans regularly? Probably not. But it was fun, just once.
MAKE FRIENDS with YOUR LOCAL FIREHOUSE
This is a public service announcement for food bloggers: My friend Ann's husband is a firefighter in north St. Louis and forever, now, she's encouraged me to take just-baked cookies and cakes and all sorts of food to my local firehouse. So last week, with both cookies and banana bread either going to waste or going to the firehouse, I made the first delivery to Firehouse Number 1. The reception was so warm there's no question I'll be back often.
And it's about time. You see, there's a special spot in my heart for the Kirkwood fire people, especially the EMS folks who were completely totally absolutely undeniably wonderful when my Dad and I were doing hospice for my Mom. So it's been five years, but finally, I feel like I'm saying 'thank you' properly, with cookies and banana bread and today, cupcakes.
AND NOW THE VERDICT
And um, what about the stinky sauerkraut in the cupcakes? Well first, the sauerkraut isn't stinky because it's rinsed. But second, the sauerkraut kind of melts into the cake, so you really don't even know it's there. It's an old trick, putting sauerkraut into cakes, and if you've got some leftover say, from this great pork chop supper, why not cupcakes? It's good for novelty, if nothing else. And I bet that even Freddie would like it, especially since he thinks colcannon is heaven.
FROM THE ARCHIVES There are other recipes using vegetables in Desserts & Baking in the Recipe Box. My favorite is the Wine, Beet & Fruit Salad.
A YEAR AGO Fragrant Orange Beetroot Salad from The Flying Apple
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CHOCOLATE SAUERKRAUT CUPCAKES
Time to table: 75 minutes
1 cup sauerkraut
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar (reduced from 1 1/2 cups, these were plenty sweet)
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups cake flour, fluffed before measuring
1/2 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup water
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F.
Rinse and drain the sauerkraut, then run through the food processor to make fine. Set aside 2/3 cup for the cupcakes (the rest will be great in Saturday Soup).
Cream the butter and sugar til light and fluffy, add the eggs and vanilla and beat till well incorporated. Beat in the sauerkraut.
In a medium bowl, fluff the dry ingredients. Add to the batter in thirds, adding the water between additions and beating only lightly each time. With a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips.
Fill muffin tins with cupcake liners and fill with batter using two spoons, one to scoop, one to scrape. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes and remove from pan. Let cool completely before icing.
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons cream cheese (Neufchatel was fine)
1 1/2 tablespoons Dutch-processes unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Pinch salt (I skipped this)
1 tablespoon cream (I used buttermilk)
With a mixer, combine all but the milk til smooth. Add milk by the teaspoon to reach desired consistency. Spread over cupcakes. (I used only half the icing for 18 cupcakes so you might want to make only half.)