Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chopped Vegan: Red Velvet Whoopie Pies with Frozen Coconut-Mango Filling

Vegan Chopped is a little competition put together based on the Food Network show, Chopped. Details about this round are available here, but if you're like me and don't want to bother clicking links unless absolutely necessary, the secret ingredients for this round are red bunch beets, crisp rice cereal, dried unsweetened coconut, and mango.
    Integral to my entry was a piece of bakeware I've never actually used. It looks like this:

and my mother tells me it's a muffin top pan, but when I look at it, I think whoopie pies. In this case, Red Velvet Whoopie Pies with Frozen Coconut-Mango Filling. Here's what I did:

    First, I steamed, peeled and chopped the beets. I pureed them in my blender until they were fairly smooth and then added some canola oil and pureed the mixture until it was really smooth. All in all it was about a half a cup of pureed beets. I transferred the mixture to a bowl and added applesauce, sugar, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract.
    Then, I ground enough crisp rice cereal to make a quarter cup of a fine meal in my mortar and pestle, and added it to a second bowl with some white whole wheat flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. I added the wet ingredients to the dry, divided the batter evenly among the wells in the muffin top/whoopie pie pan, and baked them at 350 degrees for twelve minutes.

    While that was going, I toasted some dried unsweetened coconut in a dry skillet and transferred it to the freezer. There was a can of full-fat coconut milk already chilling there, and I let those chill until the cakes had cooled.
    The filling for the pies was a bit of an adventure--I tried to make coconut whipped cream, which I've made successfully many times, but due to the heat, it wouldn't set up quite well enough. I added some extra sugar, but no luck, so I folded in the toasted coconut and mango as planned and threw the mixture in the freezer. I figured that was more in the spirit of Chopped than making new buttercream filling. It didn't freeze solid--thicker than ice cream, but not by much--so I fluffed it up with a fork and filled the pies. Thus, they were some kind of dessert super hybrid: whoopie pie meets ice cream sandwich. They did have to be eaten right away or kept in the freezer until serving, but really, if you have three whoopie pies and three people to eat them, are they going to last? I didn't think so.

...Yeah, about that. I only made enough for three whoopie pies because a) this is my first time ever winging a baking recipe and b) half of my household is made up of coconut haters.
    Okay, some notes about what they were like! The cake came out really well. The texture was pleasant and they held together very well. They were a smidge more red in real life than you can tell in the pictures, and they did not taste like beets at all.
    If I were to make these again, I'd probably just go with a buttercream filling because it's simple, but the filling was really good! Besides, a frozen dessert is always lovely when it's ninety degrees and climbing. The flavor was like a one-two punch of coconut and coconut with little bursts of mango every so often. The red velvet-coconut mango combination isn't something I would have tried outside of this competition, but it's actually quite nice. The chocolate flavor was not overwhelming, but it tempered the very sweet filling. All in all, I would call this entry a success, and I had a lot of fun doing it.

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