Gone Vegan

Lindsay Hutton discovers the politics and pragmatics behind a meat and dairy-free diet.

Delicious Cupcake Wars award-winners contain no dairy or eggs

These days, when I have a few hours, I often truck over to Mum’s to relax and take advantage of her very comprehensive cable package. I always click over to the Food Network before any other channel; I can’t get enough of it. Despite 98% of the offerings being dismayingly non-vegan, it’s rare to find an hour of programming where I don’t take something away from a show I can’t use in my own kitchen. Be it grating orange rind into roasted potatoes straight out the oven (courtesy of Brit cutie-pie foodie Jamie Oliver) or trying fresh mint in guacamole (from the lovely and painfully undersung Sunny Anderson), I’m always scribbling down some quick fix or technical tip to adapt for my own kitchen. 

Anyway. The other week I watched several episodes of reruns of Cupcake Wars. When I first heard of the show last year, my eyes rolled a little. I mean, a show about cupcakes? What’s next – Soup Scuffle? Howevs, people are mad for them. Even in my roughed-up, mid-size hometown, there’s at least two cupcake shops with a third rumoured to be forthcoming. I get it, I guess. They’re hard to screw up; put enough icing on anything and it’s a crowd-pleaser. Well, almost anything. 

Cupcaking is quite the burgeoning baker’s cottage industry (though some postulate the end is nigh), hence the show. What I had missed however, was that a fledlging vegan baker, Chloe Cascarelli, totally nailed the competition last year! I hadn’t been that excited over a competition since, like, that final scene in GI Jane (“Master Chief… suck my *&$%!”)!

Especially noteworthy was to read the backlog of foodie press on Cascarelli’s victory. “Tasty Vegan Food?...” read the New York Times; most seemed to be positively aghast at the prospect of dairy-free baking not inducing a gastrointestinal fracas, never mind wiping the floor with its omnivorous contenders. 

Regardless, here are some links to Chef Chloe’s cupcake recipes that saw her bask in made-for-TV victory. Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Tiramisu and Crème-filled Chocolate Orange. (I’ve tried the last two, by the way – both are stunning). (Belated) Big ups, Chloe – you done us proud.