a week or two ago, i cranked out a dozen "pomegranate ginger cupcakes" from hannah kiminsky's epic dessert cookbook, my sweet vegan. i usually leave the cupcakery to sis lauren (she, in fact, introduced me to the global vegan cupcake movement), but something about this flavor combo was too winter perfect to pass up.
pomegranates have always seemed so special to me, the mysterious ruby fruit of queens and wood nymphs. when i was in college, my friend kate would occasionally have a ripe pomegranate bobbing about her leather satchel, and generously shared their glowing seeds with me during mae west movie marathons and study breaks. kate is the kind of girl who treats rare, decadent things with both ceremony and indifference - the kind of girl who will slug a treasured 20 year old bordeaux right from the bottle, or wear a flawless, sequined vintage dress to a smoky dive bar. she taught me the importance of being self-centered - no! not like being selfish, but recognizing that you are truly only a Self, a person in the world acting on your own behalf. a person for whom, at the end of the day, there is only waiting what you have left for yourself to enjoy or abhor.
who knows what gestures and words we hurled at one another with juice-stained hands (believe me people, this was indeed before the pomegranate was yet another slutty produce commodity), what impressions we smeared with deep purple fingertips, what pristine white walls were ruined by our thoughtless touches.
...pardon the digression - where were we? oh yes, the cupcakes. these were fairly straightforward, but there was a special finishing touch that i especially enjoyed: pouring a pom-pom syrupy juice concoction right on top of the raw batter before the oven treatment. this technique ended up creating sexy juice ribbons throughout the cakes and a nice little wow-factor for those who peeled off the waxy paper wrapper before consumption.
two small variations to the recipe: the original called for pure pomegranate juice, which i replaced with a (significantly cheaper) pomegranate-açaí blend. it also called for chopped candied ginger to be folded into the batter, but i couldn't find the good, sugar coated kind anywhere. sometimes the co-op has some bagged up in bulk fridge alongside the shredded coconut or carob chips, but not that day. so instead i chopped up some of a green & black's dark chocolate bar that had candied ginger in it. the richness of the chocolate actually complemented the spiciness of the ginger and the tartness of the pomegranate quite nicely.
the whole shebang was topped off with some zippy ginger frosting (though the recipe she included produced far too much frosting for the dozen cupcakes, at least for my taste...i like a thin, smooth layer of confection, not big piped-on wads), and a few pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top for bedazzled garnish feel. also, you simply can't go wrong with gold foil cupcake liners - it's like a pair of these for your dessert!
and okay, this isn't the best photo (but i took it with ryan's iphone! techmologee!) but gives a clue as to their subtle beauty:
also, what is that at the top of the photo? funnily enough, it's an upsidedown caricature sketch of the aforementioned kate (posing with another lady i love, halimah) that a crust punk drew for $5 at a summer rager back in '06.
anyway, i declare these sophisticated babies a success!