I’ve been a fan of Robin Asbell’s cookbooks for years, so when her latest one, Sweet & Easy Vegan, came out, I immediately wanted it. How lucky for me that she sent me one so that I could blog about it! And, in addition to that, I got to be part of my second Virtual Vegan Potluck. My third will be next week, so keep your eyes peeled for that—it will not be just a vegan dish, but a paleo dish as well!
So, back to Robin’s book. Ever since I was a kid, my mom rarely bought cakes or cookies from the store, preferring to making them at home. This was great for my sisters and I, as through this process we not only got to spend time with our mother, but we all three became quite good bakers.
Robin’s cookbook sums up that same ethos—making tasty treats for family and friends that are both hand made with love and care, but also made from ingredients that are better choices than many that are in traditional treats in the store.
What will you find in Sweet & Easy Vegan? Treats made with whole grains and natural sweeteners, just like it says on the cover. More than 60 recipes cover the gamut from yummy breakfast breads and cereals to delectable desserts like chocolate-orange bread pudding, lemon and pine nut cookies and this recipe, sweet potato and coconut cupcakes with coconut frosting.
They are made with coconut palm sugar, which I hadn’t tried before, but absolutely loved! It looks like dark beach sand and smells like bourbon—appropriate for something that surely comes from a tropical island. The sweet potato was lovely, but she does suggest that you could substitute pumpkin, and I do think that would be nice as well, especially this time of year when it seems to become a Pumpkinocalypse in the cooking and baking world.
My frosting turned out like more of a glaze, but I think that’s because I didn’t use the coconut cream from a can, as she instructs, but used a carton of coconut cream instead. My mistake! But the toasted flakes of coconut on top were a divine addition—don’t leave them out!
I was also lucky to have a helper for this recipe, which was a lot of fun. The best part was that she magically could speak my kitchen language–the Tiny Kitchen is so small, I rarely have anyone in there to help me, and she always knew exactly what I needed! E, I look forward to our next baking day!
If you’d like to win a copy of this book for your very own, please leave a comment below about the first vegan dessert recipe you ever tried, and how it was received by all who ate it, including you! The winner will be announced on November 15th, 2012.
Sweet Potato and Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting
Makes 12 cupcakes
One 13.5 oz./400 ml can coconut milk, chilled
1/2 cup/100g palm sugar paste, granular palm sugar or Sucanat
3 Tbsp arrowroot starch or cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup/65g sweet potato purée
6 Tbsp/35g unsweetened shredded dried coconut, toasted
To make the frosting, turn the can of chilled coconut milk upside down and open the can. Pour off the liquid, reserving 3 tsp. You can save the rest for another use. Scrape out the solid coconut cream from the can; it should make 1 cup.
In a small saucepan, combine the coconut cream and sugar. Bring to a boil over a medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer, whisking constantly, until the sugar dissolves. IN a cup or small bowl, whisk the reserved 3 tbsp coconut milk, arrowroot starch and vanilla together to form a slurry. Pour into the saucepan and whisk until thoroughly blended. Cook, whisking often, until thickened, about 1 minute. Whisk in the sweet potato purée and toasted coconut. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate for about 3 hours, or until completely chilled.
1 1/2 cups/195g whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup/45g unsweetened shredded dried coconut, plus 2 Tbsp., toasted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup/150g Sucanat or granular palm sugar
1/2 cup/120ml coconut oil, melted
1 cup/245g sweet potato purée
3/4 cup/180ml coconut milk or nondairy creamer
2 Tbsp arrowroot starch or cornstarch
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas mark 4. Line twelve muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1/2 cup of coconut, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk until well mixed. In a medium bowl, combine the Sucanat and coconut oil and stir until well mixed. Stir in the sweet potato purée. In a cup or small bowl, whisk the coconut milk and arrowroot starch together to form a slurry. Stir into the sweet potato mixture. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until well mixed.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly among them and using about a heaping 1/4 cup of batter per cupcake. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean and dry.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Turn out the cupcakes and spread a rounded 2 Tbsp of frosting on each, then sprinkle with the 2 Tbsp toasted coconut. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the cupcakes will keep for about one week.
TIP: To toast dried coconut, preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C/gas mark 1. Spread the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden, about 8 minutes, stirring after about 5 minutes of baking.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of Robin’s Vegan Potluck!
Mocha Scones with Cacao Nibs: Shaina Olmanson’s Food for my Family Blog
Jumbo Buckwheat Cakes with Strawberry Sauce: Leinana Two Moons Vegan Good Things Blog
Coconut Banana Granola: JL Fields JL Goes Vegan Blog
Sweet Polenta with Cherry Sauce: Julie Hasson’s Kitchenette Blog
PB and J Crisp: Micaela Preston, Mindful Momma
Orange Plum Bars: Lia Huber, Nourish Network
Cashew Blondies: Nava Atlas, Veg Kitchen
Nectarine Cobbler: Robin Robertson, Vegan Planet