Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fridge Full o' Frosting = Fail

Those aren't the only F-words I've been thinking the last few days.

I am having NO success trying to make Babycakes vanilla icing. Three batches and they are not working out anywhere near as well as I had hoped.

Because of my brilliant success with the vast majority of The Kind Diet recipes I've tried, I assumed that I'd have just as much success with Babycakes.

Beautifully laid out cookbook with mouth-watering pictures and clear instructions...

A lovely chef with a wonderfully engaging writer's voice, whose stories, explanations, and blurbs are super entertaining to read...

 Incredible celebrity endorsements, including my Natalie

and the adorable Zooey Deschanel...

Voted #1 cupcake in New York.
Frosting so delectable they sell it by the shot...

How could I go wrong?

I totally went wrong.

Of course, the first recipe I tried was the vanilla cupcake. But before I made the cake part I figured I'd give the icing a go, because it needed to set for 6 hours before using it.

I had never prepared icing in a blender before, but who am I to question the #1 cupcake in New York? It came out as a sauce (as it was supposed to before setting) and I poured it into a bowl to put in the fridge. Not before licking the spoon, of course.

This is the part where I would be expecting myself to launch into a rambling ode to this frosting, rife with grandiose adjectives describing its heavenly flavour, barely able to contain my exhilaration over the very likely possibility that it has just changed my life forever.

Yah. Not gonna happen.

Much to my shock and chagrin, I was not impressed. Not impressed at all.

The sauce had a chalky, overwhelmingly soy-y taste. I waited for it to set, hoping that maybe something would change flavour-wise as it thickened, but even though the texture turned out lovely, the flavour was still hugely disappointing.

It was like when I showed up for my first day of high school, and it was NOTHING like Saved by the Bell.

There had to be a mistake. Rob the Husband sampled the frosting, and he said it was all right. He understood what I meant about the soy flavour, but it didn't bother him too much. "It's all right." This still wasn't the reaction I'd been expecting for friggen BABYCAKES vanilla frosting.

My mom tried it, and she too understood what I meant about the soy. She actually liked it. But she likes anything I don't and vice versa, so that doesn't count.

I decided to try again. My biggest problem was the icky soy taste, so I substituted rice milk for the soy milk in the recipe (like author Erin McKenna says you can). I still used the required 3/4 cup dry soy milk powder in the recipe, figuring that the rice milk substitution would balance the flavour.

Nope. Wrong again.

It was like when I showed up for my first day of work as a young lady doctor at a maximum security all male prison and it was NOTHING like Prison Break.

This stuff still tasted bleh. I had to be missing something. At this point, before losing all faith, I did some digging on the Babycakes website, and discovered that they claim to be soy free! How the hell are they soy free if the recipes in the book contain soy?? I did some more digging, and it appears that soy milk powder is much more accessible than rice milk powder, hence its use in the cookbook.

As disgruntled as I was that the recipe in the book wasn't the actual recipe babycakes uses and the recipe that won them Best Cupcake, my faith in the true Babycakes vanilla cupcake was restored! All I had to do was substitute rice milk powder to replace the soy, and my problems would be solved! My elation was shortlived, however, after I tried to actually FIND a place in the lower mainland that carries rice milk powder.

You know why? Because that place doesn't exist.

No organic grocers, bakeries, gluten-free shops or vegan retailers carry this stuff. I tried to order it at Planet Organic, but their distributor no longer carries it. Currently out of stock on Amazon. Even my local Rice Milk Powder Store down the street (that only specializes in rice milk powder and rice milk powder products) didn't carry it.

I was screwed.

I kept investigating, reading blogs, until I found a recommendation for coconut milk powder. This had potential. I perked up a bit, and set out on my quest. Searched high and low, including Asian and Indian grocery stores.

No luck.

I had become obsessed. I needed to make this icing. It consumed me. I kept digging online.

I discovered this site, where the Babycakes people themselves responded to someone's query about the icing and suggested a potato based milk replacer. Rob the husband remembered seeing something at Save on Foods, so we promptly rushed over there to buy the potato based DariFree, and I proceeded to make a third batch of frosting, sans soy.

Third time's a charm, right?

WRONG!! So, so wrong.

Even though the flavour turned out much better (gone was the icky soy taste), now the frosting was really sweet (I assume because of the fructose in the milk replacer), had a grainy texture, and was pretty watery, even after setting overnight. The DariFree, while much tastier than the soy milk powder, was definitely not a suitable replacement.

I could just give up. But I love cupcakes too much to do that. And I'll be a much happier wannabe vegan if I've got excellent cupcake recipes to bust out whenever I feel like it. Plus, I've been feeling extra motivated since my friend Mushie recently got back from New York, where she visited Babycakes and sang their praises upon her return home. I have faith in you Babycakes! I will make this work, dammit!

So where does that leave me now? Still on the hunt for rice milk powder or coconut milk powder, and hopeful that when I attempt this frosting recipe again I will be able to bust out my Borat Great Success clip while rambling off a litany of complimentary adjectives and dancing the Dance of Joy.

Until then, I'll just sit in my dark corner, hugging my knees and rocking back and forth as I try to figure out what to do with three unfortunate batches of frosting.



  1. Yeah, I saw that book at Anthro last week and first I was like, "someone took my favourite nickname and slapped it on the cover of a cook book". Then I was like, "Hmm...Maybe I'll read some reviews first..." And I put it down. And clearly spared myself anguish I wasn't missing.

    Almond milk powder? Almond milk is pretty dang tasty in other baking...

  2. I found some kind of almond powder at T&T, but it wasn't almond milk powder. Does that even exist? I will totally give that a go if I find it.

    And don't write off the book yet Mags! There are some pretty incredible looking recipes in there. I just need to get this cupcake right before I can move on, because I'm anal like that. I just hope it's worth the hassle.

  3. Yeah, it seems it does not.... Sorry Yo..

  4. Yola, could you find out who supplies Babycakes NY with theirs? Oh and in the meantime you could order some cupcakes from their LA store to the post office in Blaine - yummmm!

    I'm not a sweet tooth person, but these sound pretty awesome, gotta try some.