Thursday, May 31, 2007

P is for Pavlova

For some reason I've been seeing the word pavlova a lot lately. Maybe because the light and fluffy pavlova is a popular dessert during this time of year, or perhaps it's because I've been reading so many wonderful food blogs lately and the pavlova seemingly pops up every now and again. Admittedly, I didn't even know what a pavlova was until about 3 weeks ago when the LA Times food section ran a little article about this dish. The Times carried a gorgeous picture of their version of the pavlova and that's when I decided I too wanted to make this dessert.
I found this recipe on the beautful smittenkitchen website. Making a pavlova was much easier than I thought it would be and even though my pavlova may not look as gorgeous as the LA Times version, it certainly tasted delicious!

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World

No, this isn’t the title for the latest sci-fi flick, but rather the name of a sweet little cookbook that I’ve been excited about lately. As the name says, it’s all about vegan cupcakes. Seventy-five of them, to be exact. I’ve already attempted 3, and I’m happily baking and eating my way through the remaining 72 recipes! The vegan chocolate cupcakes from a previous post were such a chocolaty hit that I was compelled to bake some more from this book. And bake, I did. Last weekend I tried out the Mucho Margarita Cupcake (pictured on the left), and the Lychee Cupcake (pictured on the right).
The margarita cupcake was deliciously moist and light without being overly sweet. I particularly liked the tanginess that came from the lime juice and zest. I didn’t detect the tequila in the cupcake or in the frosting however, so if that’s something you think you’d miss, then try adding a bit more to the recipe. Since I didn’t have any green food coloring on hand, I added a half-teaspoon of lime jello powder into the frosting which worked out perfectly. And one more thing, I know that Margarita drinks don’t usually include a maraschino cherry in the concoction, but doesn't it look cute with a bright red cherry on top?
Mucho Margarita Cupcakes (makes 12 cupcakes):
ingredients for cupcake-
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 and 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1 cup soy or rice milk (I used soy)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons tequila
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 and 1/3 cups AP flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners
2. In a large bowl, beat together lime juice, zest, soy milk, canola oil, tequila, vanilla and sugar. 3. Sift in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until batter is smooth. Fill liners 3/4 of the way full and bake 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted through the center of one comes out clean.
4. Transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting (allowing the cupcakes to set for 1-2 hours helps the flavors develop fully).
ingredients for icing-
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1 tablespoon soy milk or rice milk
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon tequila
tiniest drop of green food coloring (this is optional and I used green jello powder)
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (I didn't sift)
1. Blend margarine with a fork until soft and fluffy. Stir in soy milk, lime juice, tequila and food coloring if using (the effect is just to give the icing a very pale green tint).
2. Sift in 2 cups powdered sugar and blend until creamy and smooth (best to use an electric mixer set on low). If still too liquidy then add a little more powdered sugar until a somewhat thick and spreadable consistency is achieved. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To Assemble Cupcakes-
Spread the icing on the (cooled) cupcakes, spreading all the way to the edges
Put 1 maraschino cherry on top

My next cupcake, with lychee and coconut milk, sounded exotic and rich, and I couldn’t wait to see how this would turn out. Well, I was slightly disappointed. The texture, consistency, and appearance of the end product was more like a muffin rather than a cupcake. The cupcake was heavy and I couldn't really detect the flavor of the coconut milk or the unique taste of lychee. My boyfriend probably expressed it most accurately when he said he was "confused" by the taste. Not a terrible taste, mind you, but maybe more on the bland side. There is definitely a subtle sweetness to the cupcake, and I particularly liked the chunks of lychee strewn throughout but I felt like something was missing. Maybe some shredded coconut thrown into the batter would have given it a little more zing, and I probably would have left out the ground flaxseed since this likely contributed to the heaviness of the cupcake.
Lychee Cupcakes (makes 12 cupcakes)
2 cups unbleached, AP flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/3 cups granulated sugar
5 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 can (4 ounces) lychee fruit, drained and chopped, syrup reserved
1/4 cup lychee syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
3. In a separate medium bowl, beat ground flaxseeds and 6 tablespoons water with a fork until gelatinous. Add oil, coconut milk, chopped lychees, and lychee syrup to the flaxseeds and mix to combine.
4. Add wet mixture to the dry ingredients, mix to combine. Fill cupcake liners full.
5. Bake 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Coconut glaze (optional)-
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk
directions for glaze-
Mix powdered sugar and coconut milk until smooth. Drizzle over completely cooled cupcakes.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Margarita In A Cup?

Cupcake, that is! This weekend I tested out a couple recipes from the cookbook, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. After conquering the chocolate vegan cupcakes earlier this month and enjoying them so much, I knew I wanted to bake more from this little book which packs a whopping 75 cupcake recipes. So, the next one I decided to try was the Mucho Margarita Cupcake which is pictured above. I will be posting the recipe in the next couple of days. Please stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mmm Mmm Hummus!

How could something so creamy delicious also be pretty healthy for you? That's what I wondered to myself as I dipped my celery stick into the mound of garbanzo bean delightfulness I whipped up the other day. Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, have been called the "fiber all star" because they are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Basically, this means this stuff is good for you. This recipe is easy as pie (or as hummus, in this case), and comes from my How To Cook Everything cookbook by Mark Bittman. The nice thing about hummus is, you can alter the amounts of ingredients any which way you'd like depending on your own personal taste. And don't think hummus is only for eating with veggie sticks either. How about spreading some on a warm tortilla and rolling it up? Or, stirring a tablespoonful into some hot pasta and sprinkling Parmesan cheese on top? See how versatile hummus is? Enjoy!

Hummus recipe:
2 cups canned chickpeas, well drained
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 cup sesame oil or olive oil
1 small clove garlic, peeled (I used 1 teaspoonful of garlic powder)
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon ground cumin, or to taste
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
About 1/3 cup water or as needed
1 teaspoon olive oil, approximately

1. Place everything except water and 1 teaspoon olive oil in container of a food processor and begin to process; add water as needed to make a smooth puree.
2. Taste and add more garlic, salt, lemon juice, or cumin as needed. Serve, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of cumin.
3. Eat joyfully!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Baby Back Ribs on Game NIght

As promised, I wanted to share with you a recipe I tried out on my new slow cooker. I previously mentioned that I had to buy a replacement after sadly dropping my old Rival Crockpot and breaking it. Well, I purchased a basic, oval, 5.5 quart slow cooker and finally "broke" it in the other day. We had some friends over for a fierce game of Password and Taboo (two of our favorites), and I thought that some baby back ribs were in order. Once again, I turned to my trusty Not Your Mother's Slowcooker Cookbook for some inspiration and decided on a barbecue recipe. It's quite simple to throw together and does not require a lot of ingredients which is a huge plus for me. After all, cooking in a slow cooker is all about convenience and saving time right?
The results? Meat that was so tender and juicy that it literally fell off the bones. I think I would have liked the sauce to be a little thicker the next time though as it seemed to thin out a bit during the long cooking process. Otherwise, the ribs had that wonderful BBQ, tangy flavor without being too sweet, and everyone seemed to enjoy them.
Oh, in case you were wondering, I was on the winning teams for both games. Woohoo!
Barbecue Pork Ribs (courtesy of Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger):
-Use a larger round or oval slow cooker
-Cooking time--Low for 8-9 hours
2 cups barbecue sauce of your choice (I used Bullseye)
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
4 pounds pork baby back ribs cut into 3-4 ribs each (can also use spareribs or country style ribs)
1. Combine the BBQ sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, and brown sugar in the slow cooker. Add the ribs, submerging them in the sauce. If you have a round cooker, stack the ribs with sauce in between (I had to do this even with my oval cooker).
2. Cover and cook on LOW until tender and the meat starts to separate from the bone--approx. 8-9hours
3. Transfer the ribs to a platter and serve with any extra sauce that remains in the slow cooker.
(serves 4-6)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Angelic Cupcakes

I’m trying to lighten up. No, I’m not talking about my demeanor, but rather, my food habits, or more specifically, my dessert habits. I’ve been on the hunt for “healthier” alternatives to satisfy my sweet tooth craving, and for some reason, cupcakes once again seem to fit the bill. Earlier this month I made some vegan chocolate cupcakes that made me (temporarily) forget about the leftover fudge I had sitting on my kitchen counter, and this time around, well how about some luscious lemon angel food cupcakes?
This recipe is from a beautifully photographed cookbook simply titled, “Cupcakes!” The book was given to me last summer as a birthday present but I have to admit, I haven’t baked one cupcake from it until now. I also must admit that I was so excited about making these cupcakes I didn’t even notice that I was completely out of one very important, key ingredient. Sugar. So there I was, with mixing bowls cleaned and dried, eggs at room temperature, the flour measured, the cream of tartar out of the spice rack. Yet no sugar to be found. So, what’s a girl to do? More specifically, what’s a girl who’s still wearing her PJ”s and not wanting to make a quick run to the grocery store to do? Why use Sucanat of course! Sucanat is a dried form of cane sugar and thought to be “healthier” than traditional granulated sugar. Think of sugar in a purer form. In any case, this was all I had on hand and since I had success baking with Sucanat before, I thought it was worth a try.
And how was my experience without using the regular white sugar in these cupcakes? As far as taste goes, I didn’t miss a thing. The tangy, lemony sweetness was definitely evident and the cupcakes themselves were light and fluffy without being too delicate. Since Sucanat is naturally brown in color the appearance of the end product took on a slightly golden brown hue. More importantly though, it tasted just how angel food cake ought to taste. Delicious!
Lemon Angel Cupcakes Recipe (courtesy of Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans):
1/2 cup cake flour
3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar (or, try the same amount of Sucanat)
3/4 cup egg whites (about 5 large)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Sift the flour and 2 tablespoons of sugar into a small bowl and set aside. (if using Sucanat, do not sift--the larger granules make this very difficult and the cupcake turned out just fine).
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt until the whites are foamy and the cream of tartar dissolves.
Beat on high speed until the egg whits look shiny and smooth and the beaters form lines in the mixture. The whites should cling to the beaters if you stop the mixer and lift up the beaters.
Slowly beat in the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, then beat for 1 minutes. Mix in the lemon zest, vanilla, and almond extract. Beating on low speed, sprinkle 1/4 cup of the flour mixture over the egg white mixture, beating after each addition to incorporate it. Continue until all the flour mixture has been mixed.

Spoon about 1/2 cup of the batter into 9 unlined muffin cups. Since the batter is so stiff, it's okay if the batter goes above the tops of the cups because it will not spill over the sides. Do not smooth the tops-leave the batter as fluffy mounds. Bake for about 35minutes until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. The cupcakes will rise quite a bit.
Once the cupcakes are done baking, allow them to cool while still in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cupcakes with a small knife and carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan, setting them up on the cooling rack.

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
In a small bowl, stir the powdered sugar and melted butter with enough lemon juice, beginning with 2 tablespoons, to make a smooth, pourable glaze.
Use a small spoon to drizzle the glaze over the top of each cupcake.
You can also sift powdered sugar on the tops of the cupcakes (like I did).

The cupcakes can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Celebrating at Roy's Downtown Los Angeles

Last night we celebrated my coworker’s upcoming retirement with dinner at Roy’s Restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. I've never been to any of the Roy’s branches so I was quite eager and excited to give this place a try, especially after hearing about all the awesome creations that come out of Chef Roy Yamaguchi’s kitchens. The restaurant itself is sophisticated, hip and modern with a few Hawaiian touches throughout. For a Tuesday night, it was hopping with what looked like a mix of the local corporate crowd as well as families and couples.

Okay, now for the food:
Bowls of lightly seasoned edamame were promptly placed on our table to share, and as I noshed on this I studied the menu. It’s a pretty big menu so it was actually a bit of a challenge deciding what to order. Everything just sounded so good! At least I knew I wanted to eat fish this evening, but which one? Thank goodness Roy’s makes it easy for indecisive ones like me because I finally went ahead with the Hawaiian mixed plate sampler. This consisted of Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Butterfish with sizzling soy vinaigrette, Hibachi Style Grilled Salmon in a citrus ponzu sauce, and Roy’s Original Hawaiian Blackened Ahi with a spicy soy mustard butter. These little dishes were served on a beautiful platter accompanied by a perfectly-sized ball of rice. I have to say that I enjoyed all three of the fish dishes but the first place winners were the salmon and the butterfish for me. Both were delicate yet so packed with flavor that it felt like I was having a party in my mouth. My taste buds were happy and so was I. The Ahi tuna deserves kudos too; it was prepared rare which is just the way I like it, and the sauce reminded me of that Chinese hot mustard that accompanies dim sum. You know, the kind that clears up your sinuses really fast!

Other noteworthy dishes were the prawns and shrimp mixed plate that my boyfriend opted for. Served with a creamy mushroom and spinach risotto, he devoured these and said they were some of the best he’s ever eaten. That’s a major statement coming from my boyfriend who rarely doles out compliments like that about a meal. So when he does, he means it.
His only complaint was the lack of vegetables as an accompaniment to his dish. Otherwise, he loved it.

And for all you vegetarians out there, you need not shy away from Roy’s as they will happily accommodate. My vegetarian coworker, who was the guest of honor, absolutely enjoyed her misoyaki tofu dish served with a curry based sauce and rice. She said it reminded her of her own South Indian home cooking. The tofu steak was so thick and juicy-looking that I thought it was fish. Needless to say, she loved it and cleaned her plate.

Roy’s also offers a prix fixed menu of three courses which a few people in our group ordered. It came with a trio of appetizers, a choice of short ribs or fish as the main course, and a dessert.
And speaking of dessert, this leads me to the piece de resistance: chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream.
This oh-so-rich-oh-so-chocolaty creation was served warm and partnered with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. All I can say is, “Wow”! Be sure you save room for this one, or if you're like me, make sure that someone in your party does, and is nice enough to give you a bite! It’s pretty awesome and a special treat.

For something a little less rich but also quite delicious in its own right is the Caramel Macadamia Nut Almond Tart with vanilla ice cream (see picture at the top of this entry). Loaded with macadamia nuts, this concoction had a bit of saltiness to it that melded nicely with the sweet caramel.
With all that said, we left the restaurant quite satisfied and pleased, and I knew that this first visit to Roy’s wouldn’t be my last. I already made a mental list of the dishes I wanted to try next!
Whether or not you’re celebrating an important milestone like a well-earned retirement or you're just looking for some exquisite and freshly prepared food, head on down to Roy’s in downtown LA. You definitely won’t be disappointed.

Roy's Restaurant Downtown Los Angeles
800 S. Figueroa StreetSuite 100
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 488-4994

Sunday, May 13, 2007

At Least I Tried

After hearing about Martha White's flours and mixes I was excited about trying out this corn meal mix I happened upon at my local 99 cent store. Yes folks, the 99 cent store! For those of you who aren't familiar with this brand, Martha White originates from the South, Tennessee to be specific, and is rarely found here in the West Coast. So naturally, when I saw this product on the store shelf selling for less than one dollar, I quickly snatched it up. Well, I finally gave the mix a try last night. I decided to use the "Southern Style" cornbread recipe which was on the back of the package. All I had to do was add buttermilk, an egg, and some melted shortening to two cups of the cornmeal mix, stir it up, pop it in the oven for about 25 minutes, and out came the cornbread. From the picture you can see it was a beautiful shade of light yellow, a little crisp on the edges with what looked like a very nice texture. Unfortunately, looks can be a little deceiving. The bread was surprisingly dry, and really had no taste to it. I think I was expecting some hint of sweetness or corniness even, but no, nothing like that. I wondered if maybe I did something wrong to make such a tasteless and unexciting bread. Did I miss an ingredient or a crucial step perhaps? Was the package of cornmeal mix expired? No to both of my questions. Is this the reason why I found the mix at the the 99 cent store in the first place? Maybe. Despite the disappointing cornbread outcome, I'm willing to try some of the other Martha White flour products.
What are your experiences with Martha White? I would love to hear about them.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Goodbye, Crockpot

My trusy Crockpot is in slowcooker heaven. One day after our festive Cinco De Mayo potluck at work last week, I dropped it and the crock broke into many big, chunky ceramic pieces. I’ve been on the search for a replacement but felt a little sad about the Rival Crockpot I inherited from my mom. At least I got a lot of use out of it though, something mom would be proud of. It’s cooked everything from steel cut oatmeal to a lamb shank I impressed my boyfriend with. Thank-you, you old crock.
So last night BF and I shopped for a new one. We went ahead with a Hamilton Beach slow cooker. It’s a super basic model, doesn’t even have a timer, but I felt it fit my needs just right plus the price was within my budget. I can’t wait to try it out this weekend. Will keep you all posted!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Going Dotty!

Okay, I admit it. I haven't been cooking much lately because it's been so hot here. So what's a girl to do? Why shop, of course!
I spotted these glasses at an estate sale this past weekend and could not pass them up. See how they match the background on my site?

Now how cute is that!

Yahaira's Cafe

One of life's greatest pleasures is enjoying a leisurely meal on a lazy, Sunday morning. This is exactly what my boyfriend and I treated ourselves to this past Sunday at one of our favorite locales, Yahaira's Cafe in Pasadena. Located right on Colorado Boulevard, but away from the hustle and bustle of Old Town, Yahaira's is a cozy little place with both indoor and outdoor seating. Since it was a warm, crystal-clear spring morning we chose to sit outside. The food at Yahaira's is Mexican with a Yucatan twist with dishes like tostadas, breakfast burritos, and quesadillas, just to name a few. Also offered are the more traditional American style breakfasts such as omelets, French toast, and pancakes. This particular morning I chose to have the California omelet made with egg whites, tomatoes, jack cheese, ortega chiles, and avocado, while my BF ordered his usual: the grilled steak adobado quesadilla. This is a favorite of his and understandably so. It's a delicious compilation of tender, juicy marinated steak sandwiched between two green, flour tortillas and jack cheese, topped with guacamole and salsa. It's quite yummy!
They also have a great selection of tortas, or Mexican sandwiches, and salads, and oh yes, the coffee is something special too. I understand they spike it with cinnamon which gives it a very rich and interesting flavor.
So if you're in the neighborhood and want to try a place that has great tasting food, friendly service (the waiters call you "amigo" here), and is budget-friendly, get yourself over to Yahaira's.
Yahaira's Cafe
698 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA
(626) 844-3254

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Show and Tell: New Old Plates

Anybody who knows me well knows what a sucker I am for nostalgia. I love spending the weekends scouring flea markets, garage sales, and thrift shops for that special treasure that might remind me of something precious from childhood, or ignite in me some sort of emotional connection to the past. So when I spotted this sweet, 3-piece, vintage melamine plate setting at a neighborhood thrift store recently, I had the feeling that I may have owned such a set myself when I was a youngster. There was something comforting about these pieces. The dishes were made by a company called Lexington and were surprisingly still boxed up in the original packaging. It puts a smile on my face every time I look at that adorable lion. Just wanted to share.

The Slow Enchilada

Today was our Cinco de Mayo potluck at work. Sure it’s only Dos de Mayo but what the heck, it’s never too early for a party, right? I decided to put my trusty old slow cooker to work and made enchiladas. I adapted this recipe for meat enchiladas from a cookbook I was given called, “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook” by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. It’s so convenient and easy to slow cook, especially when you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. I threw all the ingredients into the cooker the night before, stuck it in the fridge, and brought the whole apparatus to work the next morning to slow cook until the party started at noon. This way, the dish stays nice and hot, and I don’t have to use any extra serving bowls since the enchiladas are served right out of the crock. Now how cinchy is that?
Tex-Mex Enchiladas (adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook):


1 24oz can red enchilada sauce

1lb each of ground beef and ground pork

1 med size white onion, chopped

1/2 tspn salt

1/2 tspn black pepper

9 white corn tortillas

8oz can of drained canned whole-kernel corn

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese or a combination of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese

Two 2.5-ounce cans sliced black olives, drained.


1. In a large skillet over high heat cook the ground beef and ground pork together with the onion until the meat is no longer pink and the onion is limp. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat; add the salt and pepper.

2. Coat the slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place 2-3 tortillas on the bottom of the cooker (you may need to break apart the tortilla to fit the pot). In layers, add one-third meat, corn, sauce, cheese, and olives. Repeat the layers 3 more times, beginning with the tortillas and ending with the olives.

3. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 7 hours.

4. Serve straight out of the cooker and accompany with sour cream and guacamole.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

May Day Cupcakes

I have been craving something chocolaty and sweet lately. Actually, this is not at all unusual for me. The problem is, this craving is never good for my waist line, especially as it's already May and bathing suit season is just around the corner!
Well, thank goodness for this recipe I came across, called Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes. Now I'm not at all a vegan but when I read the ingredients for these babies, I thought it had everything I was looking for in a cupcake, and hey, if it satisfies my craving AND is on the healthier side, then more power to it! I gave it a go and wouldn't you know it? They were luscious, light, chocolaty, and didn't even taste "healthy". I substituted Sucanat sugar in place of the regular granulated sugar and mixed in some crushed Nilla wafers to give it some additional texture and crunch. Bye, bye chocolate craving (at least for today).
Vegan Chocolate Cupcake (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz):
1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup Sucanat (or can use granulated sugar)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 crushed Nilla wafer cookies (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK). Stir in the Nilla cookie crumbs if using.
Pour into liners, filling three-quarters of the way. I used mini cupcake liners which took about 10 minutes to bake. For regular size cupcakes, approximate baking time is 15 minutes. Baking time may vary however so bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.