I don’t know if you can tell, but my trusty camera is going. I’ve been looking to upgrade for a while now but haven’t been able to justify a purchase quite yet. It’s producing very grainy photos, no matter what the lighting condition, and they seem to be immune to any photoshopping I try. Every time I make an adjustment that’s supposed to help, it only makes the graininess grow stronger! Moreover, the actual button that’s used to capture the photo is also going, it’s sticky and needs to be asked twice to take a shot. In with the new, I say.
At least these cupcakes soothed my soul. I’ve wanted to perfect a cashew buttercream for some time now and I think I’ve finally cracked the cashew code. It’s all in the repetitious chill and whip technique. At last, I’ve achieved non-grainy cashew frosting and now must deal with grainy photos––c’est la vie.
Along with chilling and whipping, you have to soak the cashews for quite some time until they lose all structural integrity when pressed between your fingers. An overnight soak is really best if you want to avoid grainy cashews (I don’t want grainy photos, nor do I want grainy cashews). If you have 24 hours, that’s even better. Once blended, the cashew cream mixture is extremely loose, but don’t fear, all will be well following the chill and whip.
After chilling and whipping a few times, you’re left with a fluffy, snowy white, melt-in-your-mouth buttercream.
I paired this cashew buttercream with gluten-free buckwheat hummingbird cupcakes, a confection similar to carrot cake. The first time I heard of hummingbird cake was via Martha Stewart Living, a magazine that I’ve subscribed to since grade 8 (I’m nearing my 15th year as a subscriber, which I hope I get a special prize for). Martha’s traditional hummingbird cake recipe doesn’t call for carrots, but I enjoy the flavour, colour, and texture they add, as I’ve left out the pecans. It always has pineapple, bananas, sometimes coconut, and a heavy dose of warming cinnamon. According to the Hummingbird Cake Wikipedia page, a trusted source for knowledge, the cake originated in the Southern United States, winning the “Favourite Cake Award” at the Kentucky State Fair. These would also stand alone as a nutritious “muffin” if you don’t want to make the buttercream frosting (why don’t you want to make the frosting!?).
I hand-whipped with my favourite flat whisk (great arm workout, by the way). If you don’t want to do this, a hand mixer will work as well. For piping, I used a pastry bag to show the sturdiness of the fluffy cashew buttercream, however, freestyle with a knife also works if you don’t feel like being fussy.
My two-year old niece ate one and half hummingbird cupcakes when I was hanging with her over the weekend -they’re a “Chloe Approved Food.” She said, and I quote, “yummm.”
- 1 tbsp chia seeds mixed with ⅓ cup water
- 1 banana, mashed
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp white or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar or granulated sugar of choice
- 2 tbsp unsweetened, shredded, dried coconut
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 cup finely grated carrot (1 large)
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
- The Ultimate Cashew Buttercream Frosting
- 1⅔ cups raw unsalted cashews, covered in water and soaked overnight (24 hours is even better)
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract
- ½ tsp rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- ⅛ tsp sea salt
- For the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 muffin tins with 18 muffin papers (it won’t fill all 24 unless you want daintier cupcakes). Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the chia seeds and ⅓ cup water, until chia seeds have absorbed the water and created a gel. Add mashed banana and stir well. Add remaining 1 cup water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Stir to combine and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the buckwheat flour, oats, sugar, coconut, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Add the wet ingredients. Mix well. Stir in carrot and pineapple.
- Scoop approximately 3 tbsp-worth of batter into prepared tin. Bake for for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven, transfer to a cooling wrack, and cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.
- For the Frosting: Drain and rinse cashews. Place in a high-speed blender (I use a Blendtec) or food processor, along with remaining frosting ingredients. Purée on high until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a shallow bowl and freeze for 30 minutes.
- Take frosting out of the freezer and whip with a whisk. Freeze again for 10 minutes; whip again. Freeze for 10 minutes; whip again. Freeze for 10 minutes and whip a final time, this time whipping very vigorously until frosting become fluffy and light. If it’s not cold enough, it won’t whip up, so continue to freeze. (You can also use a hand mixture for this).
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to frost the cupcakes.
- To Assemble: Frost the cupcakes with desired amount of frosting, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
- Cashew buttercream can be chilled in the refrigerator overnight instead of the freezer method before whisking and whipping.