Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting

Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting {vegan} | Kneading Home

Guys, we've almost survived another winter. This was my second (and most ridiculously warm) Chicago winter and it wasn't bad at all. And in only 3 months I will be halfway done with the coursework portion of my doctorate. Seriously, baby steps. Slow and steady wins the race. These are my mantras. Also cupcakes do wonders to lift and over-worked exhausted mind and body. 

I love the combination of chocolate, coconut, and blood orange. Blood oranges are just so gorgeous I was determined to make something pretty with them before the winter ended. And so I might be a couple weeks late but here they are! 

Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting {vegan} | Kneading Home
Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting {vegan} | Kneading Home
Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting {vegan} | Kneading Home
Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting {vegan} | Kneading Home
Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting {vegan} | Kneading Home
Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting
Adapted from: The First Mess
Makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or sub AP flour)
3/4 cup coconut sugar (or sub cane sugar)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon packed blood orange zest
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup blood orange juice, from ~ 4 small oranges
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons dairy-free milk
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee (optional)

For the frosting:
1 can coconut cream*, refridgerated overnight
zest from 1 blood orange
1-2 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup powderered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Fill a muffin tin with 12 liners and set aside. 

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and zest. Form a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, blood orange juice, milk, and instant coffee into the well and mix, slowly incorporating the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Work quickly as the vinegar activates quickly. Scoop the batter into the muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick come out clean. 

Make the frosting (note this step can be made 3 days in advance). Open your refrigerated can of coconut cream (or coconut milk) and pour the thick creamy top layer into the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl). If there is liquid at the bottom of the can reserve this for use in smoothies. Using a whisk attachment beat the coconut cream, blood orange zest and juice, vanilla, and powdered sugar until thick and whipped cream-like consistency. Adjust to taste. 

Let the cupcakes cool then top with frosting then top with a blood orange segment and serve! 

Notes: You can also use full fat coconut milk. Once refrigerated the coconut cream will rise to the top and solidify and depending on the fat content, you may have some coconut water since to the bottom. Use only the coconut cream for the frosting. 

Moroccan Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Dressing, Pistachios, & Dates

This is a straight up re-creation from a cauliflower dish I had a couple weeks ago at the new True Food Kitchen in Chicago. It was by far the best thing we ordered that night, and it reminded me so much of the flavors of Morocco. 

Moroccan Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini, Pistachios, and Dates | Kneading Home
Moroccan Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Dressing, Pistachios & Dates | Kneading Home
Moroccan Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Dressing, Pistachios & Dates | Kneading Home
Moroccan Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini, Pistachios, and Dates | Kneading Home
Moroccan Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini, Pistachios, and Dates | Kneading Home

It's pretty simple. Just dry roast a head of cauliflower. While it's cooking you whip up a simple tahini dressing (I used the most treasured sweet paprika I bought in Morocco last summer, but any kind will do). Toast some pistachios in a frying pan until fragrant, chop up some dates, fresh mint and dill and toss everything together. It's technically a side, but we've eaten it for dinner at least twice now, and we're not complaining. 

I love the crunch the toasted pistachios bring to the dish and the tanginess from the dressing is cut beautifully by chunks of sweet dates. The fresh mint and dill lend themselves perfectly to pretending it's not the dead of winter and really lighten everything up. 

Moroccan Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini, Pistachios, and Dates | Kneading Home
Moroccan Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Dressing, Pistachios & Dates
Serves 4 as a side

1 large head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons tahini
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon agave (or honey)
3/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons warm water
scant 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
4-5 pitted dates
small handful of fresh dill
small handful of fresh mint

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper then coat the bottom of the sheet with a light layer of oil (I used grape seed). 

Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets, season with salt, then place on the bake sheet and cook for 25-35 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. 

While the cauliflower is cooking prepare the dressing. In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, agave, paprika, and water. Season with salt and adjust to taste. Heat a small frying pan over medium head and toast the pistachios, tossing frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Dice the dates, and chop the fresh dill and mint.

Remove the cauliflower from the oven and start by tossing with about half the dressing. Then toss with dates, pistachios, and herbs. Season liberally (seriously, that cauliflower can handle it) with salt. Drizzle with the remaining dressing on top and serve.   

Homemade Chai

Homemade Chai | Kneading Home

The first time I had homemade chai tea was at a yoga retreat years ago. It was made in a giant batch by a vegan, Ayurvedic chef and it was like nothing I had ever tasted. Sweet, spicy, warm, and creamy with notes and layers I don't even know how to describe all happening at the same time. I remember asking the chef how she made it as I gathered up my yoga props from the day's practice. She said she'd developed the recipe over the years and then listed off a dozen spices. I remember seeing whole spices at the bottom of the giant pot as I ladled myself cup after cup. It was incredible. 

I've never been a coffee drinker, I'm convinced my husband and I are the last two people on earth who don't drink caffeine. So after I discovered chai I started ordering it at places like Starbucks and Argo tea. And let me tell you, it's been a story of disappointment after disappointment. I'm no expert, but these drinks don't even deserve to be called the same name as the stuff I had that day of the retreat. And from what I've read the main difference is that these places all use store-bought chai concentrate. Booo. 

Homemade Chai | Kneading Home
Homemade Chai | Kneading Home

So I sought out to try and re-create that yoga retreat chai, whole spices and all. I researched all over the internet. I consulted Indian and Ayurvedic cookbooks. I experimented with different spices and different steep times. Different sweeteners and proportions. And I kept failing. Until now. 

I don't know if this stuff is the real deal, and like I said, I'm definitely no expert, but this stuff tastes spot on to that magical drink I had two years ago. It's well-worth the two hour steep time, and makes a bulk portion of the best chai tea I've ever had. A warm mug of it is helping me get through winter in Chicago, but I'd imagine it would be just as good served over ice in the summer. 

Homemade Chai | Kneading Home
Homemade Chai | Kneading Home
Homemade Chai | Kneading Home

Notes: None of the spices were too hard to find. If you have a local Indian grocery store I recommend buying them in bulk from there. If you're in Chicago, I'm a huge fan of Patel Brothers on Devon (while you're there stock up on things like lentils, basmati rice, and rose water). I also ADORE The Spice House in Old Town, they have any spice you could ever possibly need and I don't know what I'd do without them! Last resort, check out Amazon! 

Most recipes call for the finished chai to be topped with honey or agave but I found that the licorice added just enough sweetness for me. Feel free to add some in for extra sweetness. 

Homemade Chai {dairy-free}
Makes about 8 cups
Adapted from: Yogi Bhajan

8 cups water
18 whole cloves
24 green cardamom
30 whole black peppercorns
1.5 ounces fresh ginger (about a thumb size knob), roughly sliced
4 cinnamon sticks, each roughly 1 inch long
1 tablespoon diced dried licorice root
2 star anise
2-3 bags black tea (optional)
1 can full fat coconut milk

In a large pot combine the water and all of the spices, leaving out only the black tea and coconut milk. Bring water with the spices to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. For a caffeine-free version (this is what I did) omit the black tea. If using black tea, add it to the pot after the 2 hour steep time and let it steep however long the package instructs (usually about 10 minutes). Remove the tea bags and turn off the heat. Pour in the coconut milk and stir until combined and warmed throughout. 

You can serve immediately, as the spices tend to sink to the bottom. To store the remaining tea (it's good for about a week), pour it through a fine mesh strainer and discard the spices. I stored in mason jars. While re-heating, make sure the tea does not reach boiling point as this causes the coconut milk to separate.