Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vegan Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

This is the third thing I'm making for my clinic director for the SFF auction lot she won. I hate long introductions to recipe posts because nobody really gives a fuck about all this, but for those who may be curious where these come from, they were inspired by Reese's cups and a recipe I got from Nicole herself, actually, for creme-filled chocolate orange cupcakes. When I first got the idea, I thought about doing peanut butter cake balls hidden inside chocolate cupcakes (like the polka dots in this cake). The difference in texture you get from a cream filling is much better though. Also I forgot to take a picture because I'm the worst, so just pretend there's one here. Maybe I'll upload an artist's rendition later. Anyway, without further ado...

I took a picture of some of the remaining cupcakes on Friday.

Vegan Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Prep time:
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time:
Makes: 2 dozen

What you need:
Chocolate cupcakes
Peanut butter frosting
Chocolate ganache
Chocolate peanut topping

Make everything. Once the cupcakes are completely cool, fill each cupcake with peanut butter frosting using a pastry bag with a narrow tip. Or, use a paring knife to cut an inverted cone out of the top middle of each cupcake, spoon some frosting inside the cupcakes, then gently but firmly replace the cone tops onto the cupcakes. This technique is courtesy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Spread the chocolate ganache evenly over each cupcake and sprinkle with the chocolate peanut topping.

Chocolate Cupcakes
2 1/4 cups white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups coffee
1 cup canola oil
2 tsps vanilla

Preheat oven to 350° and line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and

In a separate bowl, whisk together coffee, canola oil, and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for about 17 to 20
minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Peanut Butter Frosting
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp almond milk, plus a little extra

Put everything except the almond milk into a bowl. Mix with an electric mixer until combined. Add one tablespoon of almond milk and mix, then continue to add milk until you reach a fluffy consistency.

Chocolate Ganache
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup almond milk
1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil at room temperature

Using a double boiler or microwave, melt the chocolate chips in a medium bowl with the almond milk. Whisk in the coconut oil until smooth.

Chocolate Peanut Topping
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup roasted peanuts (I use honey roasted, but use whatever you want)

Combine both ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the pieces are chopped pretty finely and well mixed together.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are the second thing from the SFF lot my clinic director won. They're basically just normal chocolate chip cookies; like the banana chocolate chocolate chip cookies from before I just replaced the egg with something flavorful. I did also add some spices to enhance the pumpkinness of it all.

My photography skills aren't the best, haha.

Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep: 15 min
Cook: 12 min
Makes: 5 dozen

Adapted from:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flours, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat margarine, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add pumpkin puree and beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. The dough will be sticky, but that's ok.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Vegan Lemon Sugar Cookies

Ha, I just realized I haven't updated this thing in over a year. Well, you might remember from this post that the law school has an auction every year to support people working in public interest jobs their 1L summer. I auctioned off my baking again this year, and my amazeballs tax clinic director Nicole won them...for $91, which is over thrice what they went for last year. So I'm baking her a lot. There are two things though: she's vegan, and I'm trying to add more whole wheat flour to my baking, which means fiddling with recipes that I'm formalizing here so I can remember them (and pin them to access elsewhere).

Vegan Lemon Sugar Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Makes: About 4 1/2 dozen

Adapted from

1 3/4 cups white flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup sugar + 1/4 cup
1 cup vegan unsalted margarine, pre-softened
1/3 cup lemon zest
1/4 cup silken tofu
1/2 cup lemon juice, preferably fresh
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl.

In a separate large bowl, beat together the 2/3 cup sugar, vegan margarine and lemon zest until smooth and fluffy. Add the tofu and lemon juice, and whip until well mixed.

Add the flour mixture to the margarine mixture and stir until well combined.

Form dough into one-inch balls, and roll into the 1/4 cup sugar until well coated. Flatten slightly, and bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Show me your teeth

I really hate my teeth.

I mean seriously. No bones about it, my teeth are my least favorite part of my whole body. I have a grin that comes straight out of the Big Book of British Smiles and I hate it.

Most of the hatred comes out of the aesthetics of it, of course. A certain amount of crookedness is fine—can even be cute in a quirky way—but you reach a level where that loses its appeal. Where the overjet and overbite and space between the teeth lend themselves more easily to comparisons with Cletus (of slack-jawed yokel fame).* It doesn't help that I'm missing a molar, since I was born without two permanent teeth and lost one of the baby teeth.

I'm fairly certain my teeth counted against me in interviews, as they don't exactly lend themselves to the polished professionalism a lawyer is supposed to present or whatever. At any rate they don't help, and it's one more thing to be worried about when I'm in the midst of being awkward as fuck trying to sell myself. As for dating, forget about it; see the above confidence thing, but I've also had people tell me to my face I'd be cute if not for my teeth. It was a WTF moment not because I didn't believe it, but because I didn't expect anyone to be so gauche as to actually say that to me.

So, Lisa** needs braces. Unfortunately my folks couldn't afford them when I was younger and the dental plan (which we do have) would've covered some of it. Now, I could wait until I have a paying job to start orthodontic work, which means waiting that long to replace that missing molar too. That was my original plan, but lately I've been doubting its feasibility. I've been getting impatient and feeling the limitations I thought my teeth placed on me more keenly.

I could also mature and come to accept my teeth as they are, buuuut...

Fuck that noise.*** Started with the top teeth this morning before class. And I'm not even going to lie: I was so much more excited for this than I was for my New Orleans trip last week.****

*I'm really pulling out the Simpsons references today, aren't I? Also, I wish I could whittle the future.

**I'm stretching with this one to keep the joke going. I could totally go by Lisa, so it counts.

***This is my "fuck that noise" face. Or the best I could do while still showing my teeth.

****That was hella fun though. Might do a post on it later, once I can steal borrow Jacki's pictures.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Matter of Identity

Yesterday in my Legislation & Regulation class, we were discussing the case of Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983),* where the Court upheld the IRS's determination that BJU and other racially discriminatory educational institutions would lose their tax-exempt status. As law professors often do, Professor Bagley posed a hypothetical—should women-only schools also be denied tax-exempt status as being discriminatory? Behind me, I could hear my friends Katie & Matt having a very fierce whispered conversation. As I learned after class, Matt was saying that maybe such schools should if one day we get to the point of true gender equality. Katie (who for full disclosure did go to Barnard) made the argument that even if that day did come, women's schools should still be ok for the same reason HBCUs will always be ok: because it's a matter of identity.

For what it's worth on that point, I agree with Katie. I usually do, she's pretty smart. However, the conversation got me thinking about the matter of identity. See, one of the questions I get asked a lot is why I've never joined the Women Law Students' Association (sometimes by Katie, sometimes by other people I know who are on the WLSA board). I care about many of the issues women law students face, being one myself (I know, how shocking). I'm on the board of Law Students for Reproductive Justice and we often co-sponsor events. I even danced in the WLSA act for the law school's culture show last November (starting at about 24:15; speaking of Katie, she's the awesome soloist). 

However, I've never joined WLSA or any of the other “affinity” law student groups I could. I don't really have a good reason. Like I said above, I agree with a lot of what they do. WLSA offers a support network for a group of people that, while we make up a good proportion of the law school population, still faces huge occupational challenges. It's not the dues either. I think it has more to do with the question of identity.

By that I don't mean that I don't view myself or identify as a woman. I'm pretty happy with that most of the time, all things considered. (Even if I didn't, it's not like only women who identify solely 100% as women are allowed in WLSA or anything, and it doesn't explain my avoidance of other affinity groups.) However, I do tend to reject that as a view of my identity. I've always been irrationally annoyed when approached for my view on something “as a woman,” or even when someone compliments me for doing something not stereotypically expected of women, like a friend once making a grrl power comment when she saw me carrying lumber. I feel the same sort of annoyance when people act like it's exceptional that a woman knows how to use power tools, whether they're referring to me, a third party, or even to themselves. Hell, I'm not even particularly fond of “girls' nights" on a regular basis.

I know that's not all what affinity groups are about, but it sort of touches on the other reason. I just don't know how I feel about the idea that just because we are women, we should feel affinity for each other for that reason. And that applies to anything that could be part of my identity that I didn't have a part in creating myself,** but it also only matters personally. I appreciate the important role they play, but for so long I've rejected that as an important part of my personal identity and I don't know that I have a problem with that. I'll continue to support WLSA and other such groups in all the work they do (especially if it means I get to dance on stage), but I'll probably continue to find excuses to avoid joining. It may not make sense or matter in the end, but I'm more comfortable that way.

*I just dropped a case cite in a blog post. This is why I'll be first against the wall when the revolution comes. 

**Except for the ginger supremacy movement, but that's a given.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Vote Ginger: It's Not Like Politicians Have Souls Anyway

My fellow South Carolinians, aren't you sick of politicians caring about silly things like lightbulbs? I'm here today to tell you why you should vote for me to be your Representative of the Fourth Congressional District of South Carolina this November. I promise I won't tweet pictures of myself in my underwear. Probably.

It's time the Fourth District had a representative that cared about the issues our residents face. Someone who is on the ground there every single day, tirelessly working to improve your lives. Someone who only cackled for five minutes at Clemson's recent devastating Orange Bowl loss. As I sit here this evening in my apartment in Michigan, I can't help but think I am that person.

As someone who was born* and raised right here in Greenville, I know what we need in Congress. We need someone who can push for the needs of South Carolina. Someone who will reject the special interests and lobbying efforts of companies (unless they are currently based in or planning to move to our district, in which case contact me about sponsorship deals (I'm looking at you, BMW)). Someone who will ensure our district's dominance of the state, including demanding tribute and territory from lesser districts. Someone who can do her damnedest to step to the current Congress Crazy-Eyes Champion, Rep. Bachmann.

Now I know what you're saying. You think I'm too young, but the Founding Fathers disagree. See, a little document called the Constitution says I'll be old enough to run well before the election itself. Clearly that's all the authority you need. You might think I won't know what I'm doing, but do the current members of the House? In order to promote a more transparent government, I promise not to pretend I have any clue what's going on.

So remember: a vote for me is a vote for a better tomorrow, because hell, it's not like it can get much worse.

*Note: Tragically, my birth certificate was lost in a very small fire. No other copies are available anywhere, so you'll have to trust me on this.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hi Internet, I didn't forget you. Finals just knocked any desire to write further right out of me. There will probably be another post tomorrow for New Year's, so that I have my resolutions/goals all written down to know how I failed a year from now. First though, cookies.

I lied. First for real, lemme tell you about SFF. Student Funded Fellowships are the way some first year students here at Michigan Law fund their summer jobs, if they're working at a public interest place. The org decides which students get the money based on factors like interest and how their summer job will fit into their future career, but of course they can only give out as much money as they have. They raise money throughout the school year in various ways: soliciting donations, when people shop on Amazon using this link, and the SFF Auction.

The auction is a lot of fun; each year they ply us with free booze and auction off donated items to people who have money. Professors and deans dance on tables (they get the free booze too), the admitted students there get an awesome view of the school, etc. There's also a silent auction, and that's where the cookies come in. Since I have a kitchen this year, I'll be donating an offer of baked goods. I figure I'll get more takers if I can advertise vegan baking as well as gluten-free. The problem is I've never done that. The big trick is replacing the eggs, so I turned to the great Google to see what I could do.

Apparently banana is a great replacement for eggs, as long as you don't mind the flavor of banana. Being rather fond of the combination of chocolate & banana, I decided to break out my my favorite cookie recipe. Aside from being delicious, these cookies are very easily adaptable for whatever chocolatey cookie I want. The cookies turned out fantastically, and I've given the adapted recipe below. It's halved because nobody else is back in Ann Arbor yet, and there's no way I'm eating four dozen cookies on my own. Also, if you just want the banana taste you can of course use regular butter and not check if your chocolate chips are vegan.

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 2 dozen
Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes

1/2 cup softened margarine (I used Fleischmann's soybean-based margarine, but any vegan version will do)
1/4 cup banana (about 1/2 banana, depending on the size of the fruit)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour (or 1 cup gluten free flour + 1/4 tsp xanthan gum if your gf flour doesn't have it)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (make sure these are vegan--check for milk products)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, blend margarine, sugar, banana, and vanilla together until fluffy. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients in with the wet ones until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Drop the batter by rounded teaspoons onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes until just set. Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then finish cooling on a wire rack.