Wow–it’s been a crazy couple of baking weeks around here! I got a new oven and had my first absolute baking disaster of the year. I am not telling you about the recipe, because I don’t think it is the fault of the recipe, more the fault of an inexperienced convection baker. I’m back on track, although still not comfortable with the convection feature of my new oven, and baked up some of my favorite cupcakes ever.
I am trying really hard to not use mixes on my 52 Sweets journey but a couple of things came together that made me consider using a mix: the new-ish Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes available just about everywhere including Target and the AMAZING sodas from Soda Vie.
My ever-dieting friends have mentioned this soda cake thing to me often. It’s reported to be nothing other than a boxed cake mix and a can of diet soda. Supposedly you can change the flavor of the cake by using different sodas. So what happens when you use a gluten-free mix? Or how about using a soda that isn’t full of nasty chemicals you can’t pronounce? What happens is pure deliciousness.
Because I often have difficulty getting a nice fluffy texture with gluten-free mixes that have been modified (such as the can of pumpkin and cake mix recipe I made here), I chose to use the mix, Strawberry Mint soda and two egg whites, whipped to a soft peak. That is all that there is to this: one cake mix, two eggs and 8 oz. of the most incredible soda I have ever tasted. This makes 12 cupcakes. Fill each well in the cupcake pan about 1/2 full, bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes and enjoy. Super easy!
About the soda: I met Sean Henry, the creator of Soda Vie last week. The only other time I have chatted with someone so excited and knowledgeable about their product was with Michael at The Donut Whole in Wichita. What Michael is to donuts, Sean is to soda. They are the Alton Brown’s of their niche products. Sean poured a glass of Thai Basil and Clove for me to sample and out of the bottle rolled a basil leaf and a clove. This is REAL soda. And boy, is it tasty! I couldn’t quite imagine what any of the Soda Vie flavors would taste like. The three I tried were all amazing and would be great in a glass, but I had baking to do!
I split the batter in half, adding chopped fresh strawberries to half of the batter. I sampled them unfrosted and noticed the mint flavor from the soda was much more apparent in the cupcakes with fresh strawberries added to the batter. I’m not sure why that is, but I liked the stronger mint flavor. (No strawberries added on the left, strawberries on the right.)
For frosting, I made a classic buttercream frosting (use your favorite recipe) and added 4 Tablespoons of Soda Vie’s Strawberry Mint soda, 3 chopped fresh strawberries and a bit of fresh mint. I added a whole strawberry and mint leaf to the top for garnish. The next day, even though I stored these in my cupcake carrier, I thought the frosting was a little crunchy on top. Still tasty, just not the frosting texture I was hoping for.
I’ve still got a bottle of Thai Basil and Clove soda from Soda Vie. Got any ideas for baking with this interesting flavor combination? I can’t wait to give it a try. Sean was very gracious to share two of the flavors with me and I want to find a way to make the basil and clove flavors shine as well as the strawberry/mint did in these cupcakes. I am a bit challenged with the flavor combination and slightly fearful that I will give into temptation and drink this before it ever reaches a baking project. Send your suggestions soon!
This week’s Sweet Friend is Mendy. I met Mendy at the gym. It’s funny how often I find myself writing about the lovely folks I know from the gym. Mendy is perhaps the toughest of all of the gals I know from the gym. She’s got a reputation as a tough trainer and bootcamp instructor, unwilling to take excuses or listen to whining. But she’s also a very committed mom and wife. I admire that balance and am often challenged in finding that myself. We share one similar business philosophy, finding that our clients often become our friends and enjoying working with those who are our friends. It sure does make “work” seem much less…well, work-like, when it is shared with friends.
Last Saturday was Mendy’s birthday. She celebrated by running a half marathon and setting a new personal record. While no distance race is ever easy, this one was a bit challenging. It was 44 degrees at the start. The rain began before the race started and somewhere near the end, it hailed. I love that Mendy chose a challenging activity to celebrate her birthday. While many people can’t imagine running 13.1 miles, let alone using it as a form of celebration, I can’t imagine Mendy doing anything but something challenging to celebrate a milestone birthday!
After the race, a soggy group of us gathered to celebrate Mendy’s birthday with a guilt-free breakfast. We had all earned it, even the cupcakes. Happy birthday Mendy!
thanks so very much girl. My kids are still playing with the wonderful balloons you brought. My 5 year old is obsessed with them. I loved the icing on the cupcakes!!!! I am not even a huge icing fan. Thanks for sharing my birthday with me and making me your sweet friend. BTW, I started wearing my vibrams again today…ran 3 miles in them. Had to go slow because of my ankle, but I love the freedom I feel in them. love ya