Could this be love?

Sometimes I like to blog about the important issues: animal rights, reasons to go vegan, personal moments that have shaped my vegan experience. But today, all that's on my food-obssessed brain are the cupcakes I made last night. And for a good reason. They were completely awesome, plain and simple.

Peanut butter and chocolate bliss.

You see, I'm a huge fan of Isa Chandra Moskowitz. She's the lady behind some kick-ass vegan cookbooks, including Veganomicon, Vegan with a Vengeance, Vegan Brunch, and my personal favorite, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (which she co-wrote with Terry Hope Romero - their second collaboration after Veganomicon). After reading all the decadent, mouth-watering recipes in Vegan Cupcakes, you really do believe that, yes, vegan cupcakes might actually be our greatest tool in world domination. I mean, how can one resist a miniature cake filled or topped with endless varieties of fluffy icing?

One of the new interns at the Farm Sanctuary meeting I attended last Thursday said something so profound to us. She said that it wasn't until she went vegan that she became a real foodie. And it's so true. I have never thought this much about food in my entire life. I mean, oh sure, I got excited about eating out and tasting delicious meals when I wasn't vegan, but it wasn't until I made the leap to veganism that I realized how many foods/cuisines/flavors I was missing out on. I also didn't think about my health, in terms of making sure I got a balanced diet each day, which especially comes in handy on days when all I can think about is making cupcakes.

(Case in point.)

Veganism has not only become a lifestyle for me, but it's also become this joyous new project I take on every day. Food excites me now more than ever before. Food - the stuff that we eat every day - has become much more than that to me - it is at the heart of my joy nowadays. So, to the skeptics who might believe that a vegan diet is anything but joyful, I say - eat and cook with me for a week!

In the beginning of the film Julie and Julia, Julia Child and her husband are trying to figure out a hobby for her to work on. After discussing some options, her husband asks Julia plainly, "Well, what do you like to do?", and with a mouth full of food, she thinks for a moment and responds, "Eat!".

As I took in both the simplistic, yet complex quality of that statement, my mind began to scream in a similar tone to Julia's, "Me too! ME TOO!!"

So, with a delicious fervor, I "followed my bliss" last night, as teacher Joseph Campbell so eloquently put it once. I baked chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter mousse icing, and then I proceeded to eat several of them. And it really was bliss.

 "... if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be. "

It would be cruel of me to end my post without the actual recipe for these delectable treats. So, here you go. While I don't have a recipe for the peanut butter mousse I created last night, I can relay the recipe that inspired me. Maybe you'll find your own bliss in them as I did last night. If nothing else, you will have made and eaten something truly yummy. And that's good enough for me.

Your Basic Chocolate Cupcake
taken from the cookbook "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World", by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 c. soymilk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract, chocolate extract,
or more vanilla extract
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract, and other extract, if using, to the soy milk mixture and beat till foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches towet ingredients and beat till no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are okay).
3. Pour into liners, filling three-quarters of the way. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Peanut Buttercream Frosting
taken from the cookbook "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World",
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

1/4 c. margarine softened (Earth Balance is a great brand)
2 tbsp. shortening (again, Earth Balance sticks are the best for this)
1/3 c. creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp. barley malt syrup or molasses, optional
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. confectioner's sugar
1-2 tbsp. rice milk, soy milk, or soy creamer

1. With electric handheld mixer, cream together margarine and shortening at medium speed till smooth. Add peanut butter, molasses, and vanilla, and beat until very smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in sugar; mixture will be very thick. Dribble in rice milk a little at a time, beating continously till frosting is pale tan and very fluffly.  Adjust this thickness of the frosting by adding rice mik and more confectioner's sugar in small increments. Frost or fill cool cupcakes.