Monday, February 20, 2012

Red Velvet Lentil Cupcakes

Today's post is special. Not just because it documents making these delicious cupcakes:

This post is special because it's a collaboration post, written by me and my friend, "Ron". Ron and I have been taking on "kitchen projects" ever since we discovered that we can bake/cook together and keep our friendship in tact. It all started with an explosion of cookies, then we moved on to preserving peach jam, apple pie filling, apple sauce and tomato sauce.

Our collaborations work well. When one person is fading, the other takes the lead and when one person is veering too far from the recipe (*Ron*), the other reminds him that we don't want to ruin everything.

So....without further ado....HERE'S RON!


I’ve always been a fan of the lentil. As a university student living on next to nothing, I have fond memories of boiling water with lentils on a hot plate and adding a dash of curry powder – both quick and delicious! When Psychgrad mentioned that was holding a contest for the best lentil recipe, I screamed a little. Not out of fear, but out of excitement because I always love an adventure in the kitchen.  

At the end of the post, we explain how the contest works and how you can
 help us win (or at least have a decent showing).  

Canadian lentils are itty-bitty nutrition powerhouses. One cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fibre. What’s more, lentils are jam packed with vitamins and minerals including iron and manganese. Lentils are inexpensive and easy to prepare as they don’t require soaking like beans, and can be cooked in about 20 minutes.

In deciding on a recipe to submit we threw around a number of ideas like a curry (too cliché), a salad (too easy) or soup (too fussy). I thought back to when Psychgrad and I had cupcakes at Flour Shoppe and it came to me – why don’t we make lentil cupcakes?!

We quickly decided to make red velvet lentil cupcakes.  But, we figured that since we were including a health-conscious ingredient like lentils, we had to find a natural alternative to red food colouring.  After doing some research, we found that red beets would be perfect for this.  If stored properly, beets can keep for a long time, making them perfect for winter baking experiments!

We started off with two approaches. In the first, we take a gluten free spin by replacing white flour with finely ground dry lentils or lentil flour.

In the second, we add cooked red lentils to the cake batter as a way to increase the nutritional value of the sweet treat.

Recipe #1 Gluten Free Red Velvet Lentil Cupcake 

1 large red beet (3/4 cup of puree)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 package (~120 g) of cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups of white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla
1 cups lentil flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Bake beets for about 40 minutes (until soft).  While beets are cooking, prepare your lentil flour by pulverizing them in a higher power blender like a vitamix or blendtec.

Note: Preparing the beets ahead of time would speed things up.

2. Once beets have cooled, peel beats and cut into large chunks.  Place into food processor and blend until smooth.

3. Cream together butter and cream cheese.  Add sugar and blend until smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla and blend together.

4.  In a separate bowl, blend together flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa.  

5.  Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

6.  Fold pureed beets into mixture.

7, Fill cupcake cups about 2/3 full.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Note: makes about 12 cupcakes. 

Verdict: The result is similar in texture to a corn meal muffin, but tastes surprisingly good!  The next recipe, which uses all-purpose flour instead of lentil flour, tends to come out less dense and redder in colour.  The red lentil flour has an orange tint to it, which is visible inside the cupcake, whereas the white all-purpose flour results in a more brilliant and consistent red throughout.

Recipe #2: Red Velvet Lentil Cupcake

This version of the recipe is practically the same as the first, but uses all-purpose flour instead of lentil flour.  As well, 1/2 cup of cooked lentils (pureed) are added just before folding in the pureed beets.

To ice the cupcakes, we used a simple butter cream recipe like the one described here. Our icing technique followed that used by Babycakes in New York City, as shown in this video with David Lebovitz and Erin McKenna. Psychgrad had some trouble with the “dip, dip, swirl”, but I thought it was a breeze ;-).

The final product was really delicious.  We loved that the lentils offered a great, gluten free option.  The leftovers all went over to a friend's for a Hockey Day in Canada party and were well-received by everyone there.

Now...for the contest part of this.  We need your help!  There are two ways you can help:

#1  Points in this contest are awarded based on the number of "likes" a submission gets on Facebook.  Please click on Lentil Canada's Facebook page, scroll down to our submission and click on "like".

#2  Comment on this post.  We always love your comments.  But, for this post, we really need your comments because points are allotted based on the number of comments we receive on the post.  



giz said...

I have to hand it to you guys - you did such a great job and the cupcakes are not only interesting and unique but beautiful too!!! Great job and good luck in the contest.

Stephen said...

This is such a cool lentil recipe!

Vanessa C said...

Can you freeze some for me? Just a few...dozen.

That Girl said...

These cupcakes really do look delicious. And basically if they contain lentils they're guilt-free right? Because then they're not even dessert!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Good luck in the contest guys. You certainly took the lentil to a whole new level of deliciousness.

Oly said...

wow so cute cupcakes thats my favorite colors.
but it have many steps it will be hard for me :c

PG said...

Oly - Aside from preparing the beets, the recipe is pretty standard in terms of number of steps. My recommendation is to make the beets in advance. It speeds things up a lot.

Amelie said...

Love that you used beets to dye the batter! Looks yummy!

Silvia @ Maidscream said...

wow another bunch of cupcakes :)
added to my list. i like the color and the name of it. looking forward for the next post dear .. take care.

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