the taste space

100% Guiltless Cupcakes (Homemade Bath Bomb Cupcakes)

Posted in Beauty by Janet M on November 25, 2012

Unlike my Chocolate Mousse Pie which is almost guiltless, these cupcakes are completely guilt-free! While they may have you salivating, you can make them guilt-free because you won’t be eating them. You’ll throw them into your bath instead. ;)

American Thanksgiving is over, which means it is ok to think about Christmas. Even though I didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend (as a Canadian, mine was in October), I still find it taboo to think about Christmas too early. Christmas music has been blaring down St Clair West for the past week, and it was just too much for me. However, it did get me thinking.

Even though I am completely uncreative in the craft department, I got it into my head that I wanted to make a craft cupcake. I thought of making soap cupcakes, but realized it called for way too many ingredients I didn’t have (sodium hydroxide!). My attention next turned to bath bombs which uses many ingredients I already have, including many that I don’t plan to eat anyways (cornstarch, baking soda, citric acid) – perfect for guiltless clearing of my pantry, too! While searching for bath bomb cupcakes, I even came across a chocolate whoopie pie bath bomb made with oat flour, cocoa powder and milk powder. However, I only had 1/2 cup citric acid leftover from my chaat masala so I went with one recipe. Thankfully, this was perfectly timed. My mom was coming to visit this weekend and able to bring ingredients I didn’t have (Epsom salts, icing sugar, food coloring, cream of tartar, SPRINKLES!) and baking contraptions (frosting tips, cupcake wrappers) to frost my cupcakes. Plus, she has mad frosting skills.  I figured I needed a frosting tutorial from her regardless.

As soon as my Mom arrived, we got to work! I looked at her sprinkle collection and fell for the clear green ones. My mom suggested a pale green cupcake base so we were off!  This was definitely a team effort. I sifted and spritzed while my Mom mixed the cupcake batter. I originally used witch hazel to mist my batter but it didn’t seem to work at binding, so then we switched to water which was used in the original recipe. Once it was semi-solid, we packed them tightly into wrapper-lined muffin tins.

You can go as simple or as ornate as you’d like. You could stop right hear and have bath bomb disks. Or use ice cube trays with fun shapes for variety. I didn’t have any fragrances or essential oils (they need to be skin safe) so I went without. I can only imagine how much more awesome this would be with mint.

Next, we got to work on the frosting. For the real bakers out there, you may recognize this as royal icing. Icing that you can mold and allow to firm up solid. It can keep for years if properly stored. It is what you would use for gingerbread houses or pretty flowers on cakes. I decided not to experiment, so I stuck with the original recipe. I had to locate meringue powder, easily found at Bulk Barn, but nowhere else I looked. I know, this doesn’t make the frosting vegan. Only now did I realize there are vegan royal icings. I may try that next time.

So I whipped out my much neglected mixer and we made the icing together. Stuffed the icing into a bag and started piping. Pipe then sprinkled.

The frosting is edible but I don’t recommend eating the cupcake!  For now, you get a silky smooth skin after your glorious bath time. :)

I promise not to try soap making, but how about homemade body butter? I have a ton of coconut oil now… and I can only eat so much of it. ;)

Do you make your own beauty products? What gifts are you planning on making this holiday?

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Malai Koftas with Chaat Masala (Vegan, Baked)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on April 23, 2012

I am pretty proud of myself for eating through my cupboards. I ate my last carrot and wondered whether I could hold out for a month until we moved to replenish them. Completely foolhardy. We’re moving within Toronto, so there’s no reason to be completely devoid of food. So I bought more carrots.

Then I spotted this recipe for mouth-watering malai kofta, Indian veggie meatballs in a creamy curry sauce, that seemed perfect for guests. I immediately decided they would be perfect for our Indian Easter – a company-worthy dish. Leanne’s recipe called for chaat masala which I didn’t have. Having disappointed myself by buying curry powder, I was adamant to make my own version.  While there are many versions of chaat masala, my newest cookbook, 1000 Indian Recipes, had an intriguing recipe using amchur (mango powder), mint, black salt, cumin and asafoetida. It also included ajwain, citric acid and tamarind powder… of which I had none. Currently living so close to Little India, instead of shunning new purchases, I decided to use this as a time to harness my Indian spice prowess.

While looking for cheap hazelnuts, we scoured Little India for our new spices. Ajwain and citric acid were easily located but tamarind powder was nowhere to be found (I also checked out Bestwin and Sunny’s). Sadly, I also discovered what a treasure-trove BJ’s Supermarket is. While it has always been Rob’s go-to place for a variety of rotis, naans, parathas, etc as well as Indian spices, I also discovered it stocks Kombucha (from Crudessence!), has reasonably priced Mary’s crackers ($3.99/box) and a wide assortment of reasonably priced Stash teas ($2.99/each). Almond Breeze is also regularly priced at $1.69. Who would have known? Of course, I only discovered this a month prior to moving away. :(

Undeterred by my lack of tamarind powder, I made my chaat masala with it omitted. This was probably the first time I could honestly say my house smelled like curry. I blame the ajwain since it is the newbie!!

When deciding what to make for our guests, I liked Leanne’s strategy of making this partially in advance and then throwing the rest of the sauce together just prior to serving. We ended up making it all the same day, so that works too. This is more involved than the other curries I’ve made because you need to make the kofta, but this was very well received by everyone. The flavours were complex and delicious with big vegetable “meatballs”. Baked, not fried. The sauce was creamy without being heavy.  While you could simply omit the chaat masala from the malai kofta, I liked the extra depth of flavours imparted likely from the black salt, ajwain and mint.

While still delicious and enjoyed by all, my meatballs were a bit more mushy than I had anticipated. I substituted sweet potatoes for regular potatoes but I don’t think that changed much. I am not sure if I underbaked them, or overcooked the veggies beforehand. My only exposure to koftas in restos have been heavy and dense fried balls, that I figure are filled with ground nuts and coconut. These are veggie-based and lighter. Rob assured me he’s had kofta like these before. I also used my food processor for the sauce, but since we used cashews as the creamy portion, next time I would use my Vitamix for a smoother consistency. I just didn’t want to dirty yet another container at that moment. ;) Soaking the cashews could also help, so I added that into the directions.

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Elena, and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

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