Unless you've been hiding out in a cave in Afghanistan lately, you would have noticed that a cupcake tsunami has been sweeping the world. Just google the term cupcakes, randomly choose a site and you will invariably find yourself ogling the pint-sized supermodels of the baking world. These mini confections primp, pout and pose for the camera, smug in the knowledge that they are the 'it' girls on the recipe runway. Unlike their human super-model counterparts, though, these girls are positively brimming with calories. Just take the sickly-sweet super-blobs of icing that commonly adorn the tops of cupcakes now. These sugary augmentations are the wonder bras of the cupcake world - seductive, but when you get down to business, ultimately disappointing.

So this week, I've chosen a simple recipe called Simple Vanilla and Agave Cupcakes. Agave is a spiky plant from Mexico which yields a nectar that can be used as a sugar substitute in cooking. This recipe comes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I've ended up de-veganising it by using cow's milk instead of soy milk and adding a cream cheese topping.

Special thanks to my nice friend Chris, who kindly gave me a bottle of agave syrup to experiment with.

For the base you will need:

2/3 cup milk (soy or cow's)
2/3 cup agave syrup
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil (veggie oil is also OK)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/3 cups plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

For the topping you will need:

150g light cream cheese
2 tsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

This is what you do:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C. Line a cupcake tine with paper cases.

2. Mix the milk and vinegar in a large bowl. Set aside for a few minutes so that the milk curdles.

3. Beat in the agave syrup, oil and vanilla and almond extracts. Then sift in the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until smooth. Don't worry if the batter seems runny. Have faith in the force, Luke.

4. Pour the batter into the paper cases. Fill each one 2/3 of the way.

5. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and put cupcakes on rack to cool.

6. To make the topping, beat the softened cream cheese, agave syrup and vanilla essence until smooth.

7. Spread a modest amount of icing on each cupcake. Remember, we want humble - not whoreish.

Makes 11 or 12 cupcakes.

Simple, not showy.

Later that day...

So I just got back from pounding the pavements in search of a random recipient. And boy, is it hot out there today. Anyway, I came across a young fella directing traffic around a construction site. I ran the spiel by him and he said yay to the cupcake, but nay to having his photo taken. I can respect that. Anonymity is a rare thing these days. Anyway anonymous Ash, if you're reading this, I hope you enjoyed the random cupcake. If I'd known how hot it was outside today, I would have also brought along some random buckets of icy cold water. Keep up the good work, mate, and I hope the days get a lot cooler for you.

So, that's all until next week, friends. In the meantime, stay random!
6/4/2010 19:08:23

soft and moist.
Agave tastes a bit like brown sugar, but not as sweet.It goes well with the cream cheese.
Loving it....
Well done......

Chris Schwarz
6/4/2010 20:55:22

Can't wait to try these, they look cupcake scrumptious.
Poor Lennox, missing out back in Darwin.
I'll email you the photos of his first cupcake experience when I work out how to do it. Never used iphotos before- I'msure it would be easy if I were 20 years younger, sigh.

6/4/2010 22:36:40

those cuppies look awesomating alex, now that mels and lennox are back in darwin we probably won't have warfare over who gets the last cuppie, chris will just take it of course.
congrats yellowbee for making the first comment

Chris Schwarz
7/4/2010 21:39:32

Delicious. Love the caramelly agave flavour, and it works so well with the cream cheese topping.
Thank goodness I don't have to share with Lennox again!

13/4/2010 19:15:13

hanging out for the update homey, anyway i am the first to comment, i am sure your cuppies will be fabulous


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