As lovers of craft beer and fine food, we’re always looking for new ways to unite them. So, naturally we were in seventh heaven when we tasted chocolate-stout cupcakes from Sweet Desire, a local bakery & confectionery, at this year’s Oregon Chocolate Festival. Made with Chocolate Stout we brewed for the festivities, they’re one of the sweetest food-beer pairings we’ve encountered. Sweet Desire makes vegan and gluten-free treats, delivering decadence to all, and uses as many local and organic ingredients as possible. We asked founder Stephanie Friedman to share tips for baking with beer and making vegan treats, and a recipe for you to savor at home. Enjoy!
1. What inspired you to focus on vegan baking?
I’ve always loved baking and decided to explore vegan desserts a few years ago when a friend asked me to make truffles for her wedding. My initial batches used cream, as is typical, but, as I’m lactose intolerant, I decided to try hemp milk instead. I was surprised and thrilled at how delicious and creamy they were. After that, I went on a vegan cupcake-baking craze. I started to sell my products on a small scale while working in the kitchen of the Morical House Garden Inn. People were enjoying my truffles and cupcakes, so, when I was offered the chance to share a commercial kitchen, it seemed like I should go for it. Sweet Desire has been growing rapidly ever since.
2. How did you learn to make such delicious vegan and gluten-free treats? My mother was a great cook and baker, and my father was extremely health conscious, so I was exposed to healthy and alternative food choices since childhood. I learned to make delicious vegan and gluten-free treats by my own experimentation and a few great cookbooks.
3. What local and organic ingredients do you use, and how do you find them? I have a strong commitment to using local and organic ingredients whenever possible. We’re lucky to have so many options in Ashland, OR! My favorite jam for layer cake fillings and frosting is from Pennington Farms. Berries and produce come from a variety of local farms, and I choose based on what’s in season and fresh. Last summer I picked masses of berries from Eagle Mill Farm. I use Oregon-based distributors including Hummingbird Wholesale, which specializes in local products, including flours.
4. What are some simple ways to adapt baking recipes to be vegan?
There are a few ways to swap out dairy and eggs. Dairy is usually easy to substitute with nut milks, hemp milk, soymilk, or even water! Eggs are harder, as they are used as a binder (and contribute to rising), but bananas and ground flax seeds work well. I usually use a baking powder/baking soda mix with apple cider vinegar for rising, a depression era baking solution.
5. Can you share a few tips for using beer in baking recipes?
I’d add beer as a percentage of the liquid that the recipe calls for, from 25% to 75%. The cupcakes I made for the Oregon Chocolate Festival with Standing Stone’s Chocolate Stout had 25% of the liquid as beer. Next time I would try increasing the amount for a stronger beer flavor.
6. Can you share a recipe for beer lovers to try?
Sweet Desire’s Vegan Mocha Stout Muffins/Cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee (or instant espresso)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup almond milk
- ½ cup stout beer (like Standing Stone’s Oatmeal Stout)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
- ½ cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Line muffin/cupcake tins with paper liners.
- Whisk together all oil, vinegar, almond milk, vanilla extract, and stout beer. Add instant coffee and sugar. Mix well.
- Sift all other dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add to wet.
- Do not over-mix.
- Fold in Chocolate Chips
- Fill muffin cups almost to the top.
- Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out dry (unless it hits the melting chips!)
- Let cool until you can remove from tin and place on cooling rack.
Thanks Stephanie! We can’t wait to try the next batch of beer cupcakes, and hope this blog inspires some great beer-infused baking.
(last two photos by Stephanie Friedman)