Monday, October 31, 2011

Better Butter!

Note: As of April 2012, I have been using Bryanna Clark Grogan's version of Mattie's vegan's found here.  It is based on his white chocolate butter and relies on cocoa butter.  But her version is much more spreadable!  And she gives links to finding deodorized cocoa butter so it can be made more savory!  Just thought I'd mention...I will blog about it in a separate post.

I've really been missing my vegan buttercream. Really bad. Whenever I've made cuppies or bday cakes, I've resorted to making an avocado chocolate mousse topping. But I really don't feel like giving Kyson chocolate or anything with caffeine given that his sleep stinks. And besides - dark chocolate icing doesn't lend to adding fun colours and such that Ash looks forward to. So I had to put my thinking cap on.

Earth Balance is out for several reasons, like sunflower, safflower and flax to name a few. Palm has been giving us issues, so that too is added to the list of no-no's. My usual coconut oil won't work either since Kyson is allergic to that too. Then I got a brilliant idea to use the nearly-expired bag of raw cocoa butter that I bought solely due to sheer excitement that I could make white chocolate. I never thought of actually using it for any other purpose! So I melted it to a softened state, and added icing sugar. It was quite stiff - in went a few tablespoons of rice milk and it seemed to curdle. I then broke my hand mixer. I couldn't resort to my Kitchenaid since there didn't seem to be enough quantity for the whisk attachment to do anything. So I pulled out my supertool - the Braun hand mixer. Beating it up, my hand was cramping and the mixer seemed to get warm. In the end, it actually mixed to something smooth! Now I should have iced some cuppies then and there while the frosting was soft, but given that I decided to make the frosting on a whim, I then had to whip up a batch of the Basic Vanilla Cupcakes from VCTOTW. By the time they baked and cooled, my frosting was pretty stiff. The end result isn't super pretty:

But man, they were darn good! They tasted like white chocolate! (Although that shouldn't be such a shocker, but it is when it looks like regular buttercream).

So I started thinking - how to make the cocoa butter more pliable? Enter Mattie's vegan butter solution. He lists a number of options - many using the preferred soymilk and coconut oil ingredients. He goes into a great explanation of the makeup of butter and how to scientifically produce a vegan version, which is interesting and like the vegan version of Good Eats. The best part - in there was a white chocolate version that uses cocoa butter! Hooray! I decided to sub extra xanthan gum to make up for using soy or sunflower lecithin and use the second choice of curdled hemp milk. I'm shocked at the results - I doubled the batch (risky since I had never made it before and was sacrificing about $13 of cocoa butter!) and I used a silicone muffin pan to create 1 tablespoon measures of the 'butter'. Had lots leftover and while still soft, spread it on bread.

I delighted at the taste of 'margarine' again! I quickly thought about all of the possibilities - melted on popcorn, vegan buttercream, xmas baking...I felt like a weight of sadness over all of the foods I have had to avoid was lifted. This must have been how former cheese lovers felt when Daiya came out!

Later that week, Ash was having her cousin over to bake. Since halloween was right around the corner, I thought perhaps some Roll-out Sugar Cookies from VCIYCJ would be appropriate. Scanning the recipe, I saw the requirements for vegan margarine and shortening and became fearful. Would my concoction hold up to satisfy two little girls in their baking endeavours? I melted it down and continued with the recipe...the dough came out PERFECT. Way better than when I had made it with the original ingredients. By the time I had all of the ingredients mixed, the 'butter' had hardened ever so slightly which made it a breeze to roll out immediately (no chilling!) and withstood several rolling iterations. It did take longer for the cookies to bake (almost 10 minutes more!), but they had a delicious flavour and were flaky too. Hooray again!  


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