When I close my eyes to imagine a Chanukah treat, I see something that is light, filled with preserves and sprinkled in a snow-like powdered sugar. When I open my eyes, I see a recipe that is overly involved with too many steps, including frying. While Sufganiyot, or jelly donuts, are traditionally festive on this holiday of lights, they are not really in line with my style of cooking. I like recipes that are easy but also clean. That doesn't mean to say I don't eat desserts, but let's re-invent this wheel a little bit to lighten up the concept.
How about a clean, dairy free, egg free, vanilla cupcake made with natural unrefined sugars? Now let’s fill that cupcake with high quality strawberry preserves (not that fake red gel-like product-bleh) and cover that with a snow dusting of powdered sugar. Then the cream of the crop- a coconut whipped cream to top it off with a dab more of preserves. Magical.
Strawberry Preserve Filled Cupcakes with Coconut Whipped Cream
1/3 cup natural cane sugar (or any sugar you prefer)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/3 cup flavorless oil (I like avocado oil for the health benefits)
¾ cup coconut milk (I like the refrigerated kind without added sugars)*
1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup good quality strawberry preserves
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees or 325 degrees convection.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt to combine.
In a second bowl, mix together your maple syrup, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla to combine. Using a stand mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment), hand mixer or a good old fashioned whisk, add your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients slowly while mixing. Once all the flour is in, turn off the machine and scrape the bowl down to make sure there are no clumps. Mix for another 15 seconds.
Line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. Using a cupcake scooper, scoop exactly one full scoop into each cupcake liner. Bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating your tray front to back halfway through.
Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes in the tray, then remove each muffin from the tin and let cool for an additional 15 minutes.
Using a serrated paring knife or an apple corer tool (I prefer the knife- but watch your hands please), core the center of the cupcake going in from the top. Do not go all the way down- I would say take out about 3/4 's of the way through. Place the piece you remove on the side and trim it down saving only the very top cap.
When you are a few hours shy of serving time, fill your cupcakes. Using a spoon, mix your preserves to soften it up in the jar it came in. Then scoop it into a pastry bag or a plastic zippered bag. (You can always use a spoon for this part of the job if you don’t want to do the pastry bag.) Trim a very small hole at the bottom and neatly squeeze the jam into the hollowed out cupcake- just about to the top. Then re-cover your cupcake with your little reserved cupcake cap.
Place your preserve filled cupcakes on the platter you want to serve them on. Take your confectioners’ sugar and place it in a fine mesh strainer. Shake the sugar over the cupcakes, like a little pretty snow shower. If you want, you can serve them just like this. If not, proceed below to make the whipped cream.
These cupcakes can be made the day before you plan to serve and kept in an airtight container or zippered bag. Alternatively, you can make them and freeze them for up to 3 weeks. If you want to make them the day before or store in the freezer, do not fill them with jam. The filling goes in on the day you plan to serve them.
*Note- You can replace the coconut milk with any other milk you prefer- almond, soy or even regular dairy milk.
Vegan Coconut Whipped Cream
This recipe makes it possible to eat a non-dairy whipped cream you can feel good about. Until I started making this, the only kind of non-dairy frosting I was comfortable making was a meringue. All of the other recipes I have seen either have lots of margarine or are made with a frozen, non-dairy whipping cream product, which is made of chemicals.
Making whipped cream using coconut milk has the great advantage of being made naturally- without any chemicals. The only tricky part is that in warmer temperatures the whipped cream can separate and soften, making it unusable. The key to making a stable coconut whipped cream, is to make sure that everything is cold- including the milk, the mixing bowl, and the whisk attachment you use to make it. I chill my can of coconut milk as well as the bowl and whisk in the refrigerator for 24 hours before I plan to make the recipe. While I wouldn’t make this recipe to place on an outdoor buffet in the middle of July, I would use it in just about any other scenario.
2 cans (14 ounces) full-fat coconut milk, chilled for at least 24 hours
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Take your cold cans of coconut milk and turn them upside down. When you chill the coconut milk the cream solids and coconut water separate. Using a can opener, open the cans from the bottom and pour out the coconut water. Reserve the water for another use and store in the fridge.
Using a spoon scoop out your coconut cream that is remaining in the cans and put it into the bowl of a mixer. Add your maple syrup and vanilla to the bowl. Attach your whisk attachment to your mixer and place your mixer on high for about 30 seconds. Scrape down your bowls and whip for another minute.
Scoop your cream into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe rosettes onto your cupcakes. If this doesn't sound like your thing, feel free to take an offset spatula or butter knife and frost them the old fashion way. Serve immediately.
The coconut milk needs to be stored in the fridge for 24 hours before you plan to make the recipe. I usually do the same for the bowl and whisk attachment.
The whipped cream can only go on the cupcakes just before you plan to serve them. You can make the cream up to 3 hours before and store the bowl with cream in the fridge until serving time. You may need to whip for an extra 15 seconds before you frost.