Sometimes I like to have days where I put a few recipes in direct competition with one another. It’s really the only way to determine which particular recipe is the best. It’s difficult, for example, to remember whether the cupcakes I baked last time were better or worse. Also, trying several different recipes at once feels a little bit like science. I like science. If I were to put together a cooking show, it would vamp on this concept and be some sort of recipe showdown. It’s just like Iron Chef, except there is no secret ingredient, and the only person I am competing with is myself. OK, so maybe it’s nothing like Iron Chef. Maybe it’s more like “Nicole Likes to Screw Around in the Kitchen”. That doesn’t right either :) . I’m just going to call it Cupcake Wars and leave it at that.
Anyway, I’ve put together an expert panel of vegans, foodies, and friends who I subject to my culinary machinations. Two weeks ago their mission was simple: test and report back on three different cupcake recipes. There was one clear winner, a Red Velvet cupcake that I will be using for my birthday party this Thursday. It’s going to be at the Daily Pint on Pico in Santa Monica, right by the intersection of Pico and Cloverfield. The party starts at 7 pm, but possibly earlier. Feel free to stop by if you like, since I’m an internet celebrity now. Actually, I’m not an internet celebrity, and I don’t even have that good of a track record for friends showing up to my parties. So, if you are reading this blog and live in the greater Los Angeles area, you should probably make an attempt to drop by. Here are the two losing recipes, which were still very good cupcakes and excellent vegan cupcakes. The winner will follow in a post where I wax poetic on growing up and what it means to be 25, which I have always seen as the beginning of real adulthood.

Chocolate Applesauce Cupcakes
This recipe is kind of cool, because it is so easy to make and it’s fat free. Everybody loves a fat free cupcake. 

2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce

Line a cupcake tin with wrappers and pre-heat the oven to 325.
Mix the pastry flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and cocoa powder until well blended. Add the sugar and then the applesauce. Beat the ingredients together until just combined and spoon into cupcake wrappers.
Bake at 324 for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Lemon Cupcakes
These cupcakes were ok, but I thought that they should have been better, considering that they use actual earth balance instead of just some fat replacers. They were pretty dense, and reminded me of muffins more so than cupcakes.

1/3 c. earth balance
1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 c. sugar
3 1/2 c. flour
3 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. soy milk
1/2 c. lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon
Mix the lemon juice and soy milk and set aside. Let it curdle while you do everything else.
Line a cupcake tin with wrappers and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Beat the applesauce and earth balance together until well combined and light in color. Mix in the sugar.
Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and soda, and salt. Mix in half the applesauce mixture, then half the milk mixture. Repeat until everything is combined.
Spoon into cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes at 350.