Life Food

Fight animal cruelty with cupcakes during National Cupcake Day

By Rita DeMontis, Toronto Sun

RHUBARB CUPCAKES WITH STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE ICING (Photo courtesy Foodland Ontario)

RHUBARB CUPCAKES WITH STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE ICING (Photo courtesy Foodland Ontario)

As fundraisers go, this is one of the sweetest around.

And it's for a cause very close to many hearts - mine included. Cupcakes for animal welfare. And the safety and well-being of our forever furry friends.

Raising funds and awareness is as easy as, well - cupcakes! In fact, we're all being encourged to preheat ovens and start baking up a storm for National Cupcake Day, coming up fast Feb. 27, all in order to make - or bake a difference in animals in need.

Now in its fifth year, National Cupcake Day is presented in partnership by the Ontario SPCA and the BC SPCA, and is a collaborative event to support local SPCAs and Humane Societies across Canada.

In 2016, animal lovers across Canada raised over $615,000 in support of their local animal welfare societies.

The campaign has raised $1.85 million to date.

And it really is an easy event to participate in - all you have to do is register to host a National Cupcake Day party and invite co-workers, friends and family. Guests donate to the participating animal welfare charity of the host’s choice in exchange for a cupcake! By doing so, you're raising critically-needed funds for animals that are abused, abandoned, neglected or no longer wanted.

Cupcake Day parties can be held anywhere, and on any date in February.

“National Cupcake Day is fun, delicious and, best of all, it changes the lives of animals that have endured hardship and cruelty,” says celebrity chef Anna Olson, host of the Food Network’s Bake with Anna Olson and official ‘Cupcake Crusader’ for the campaign. “The funds you raise will have a significant impact on the animal welfare societies in your community, ensuring that their life-saving work continues.”

I can't add to that. I'm going to be hosting a cupcake day in my office knowing it's one of the sweetest - and easiest - fundraising events around.

Here are a couple of recipes to get you started. And follow the details on the sidebar if you're interested in hosting your own National Cupcake Day, too.

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How you can get involved:

1. Register for FREE at nationalcupcakeday.ca

2. Receive for your Cupcake Host Kit to arrive in the mail or download it online.

3. Customize your Personal Fundraising Centre online and ask your friends, family and colleagues to support your fundraising efforts.

4. Send your friends and family an email through your participant centre, encouraging them to show their support by donating online.

5. Plan your National Cupcake Day Party for home, work, school or wherever you think people would love to eat cupcakes.

6. Hold your National Cupcake Day Party on Monday, Feb. 27 or any day in February that works for you.

7. Bake, decorate and eat!

- Visit nationalcupcakeday.ca to register, bake and donate.

 

Some sweet inspiration:

RHUBARB CUPCAKES WITH STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE ICING

Look for rhubarb in frozen food section, or substitute frozen berries if you cannot source. Recipe and photo courtesy Foodland Ontario.

Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup (250mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. (5mL) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. (1mL) salt
  • 1/3 cup (75mL) butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (175mL) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 mL) vanilla
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) milk
  • 3/4 cup (175mL) diced rhubarb (about 1/4-inch/0.5 cm)

Icing:

  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbsp. (15mL) butter, at room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp. (45mL) strawberry jam
  • 2 cups (500mL) icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp. (10mL) milk
  • Strawberry jam (optional)

Line a muffin pan with paper liners; set aside. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In large bowl, using electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar until well combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and beat until fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture, alternating with milk, just until smooth. Stir in rhubarb. Using ice cream scoop or large spoons, spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling about 3/4 full.

Bake in 350F (180C) oven for 20 to 22 minutes, or until tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes; remove cupcakes onto rack and cool completely.

ICING: In medium bowl, using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in jam. Add icing sugar and milk; beat until very smooth. Spread icing over cooled cupcakes (or use piping bag). If desired, drizzle a bit of strawberry jam (thinned with a bit of water), over icing. Store in airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

CARROT AND TRIPLE-CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Recipe and photo courtesy Foodland Ontario 

Cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup (125mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (250mL) light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp (5mL) vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. (2mL) almond extract
  • 1 cup (250mL) coarsely grated carrots (about 3 medium)
  • 1-1/2 cups (375mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (125mL) cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. (7mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. (5mL) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. (2mL) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. (1mL) freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup (250mL) buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup (75mL) semisweet chocolate chips

Icing:

  • 1/2 cup (125mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (250mL) icing sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150mL) cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. (5mL) vanilla

Decoration:

  • Half pkg. (8 oz/227 g pkg) marzipan
  • Red and yellow food colouring

Using electric hand mixer, beat butter with all but 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) of brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolks, vanilla and almond extract; beat again. Stir in carrots. Set aside.

In large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and nutmeg. Fold into butter mixture, alternate with buttermilk, making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of buttermilk. Fold in chocolate chips.

In separate bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Beat in remaining 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) brown sugar until stiff. Gently fold into batter until just blended. Divide among 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake in 375F (190C) oven for about 25 minutes or until tops are springy to the touch. Let cool completely on rack.

ICING: In bowl, beat together butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder for about 1 minute or until fluffy and smooth. Beat in buttermilk and vanilla until smooth. Spread over cooled cupcakes.

TOPPING: Knead marzipan to soften. Tint with food colouring by combining one part red food colouring to two parts yellow to make orange. Form into 12 small carrot shapes. Roll edge of small knife around each carrot, making light indentations. Make small hole in top of each carrot with toothpick; press fresh carrot greens (leaf) into hole.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

PUMPKIN BACON PUPPY PAW COOKIES

Chef Anna Olson created this special cupcakes for puppies and dogs in mind!

  • 4 slices turkey bacon
  • 1½ cups (375mL) pure pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup (175mL) milk
  • 1/4 cup (60mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 2/3 cups (250g) whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. (7mL) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. (1mL) baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. (1mL) ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F (190C) and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

Cook bacon over medium high heat until crisp, flipping it over 3/4 way through cooking, about 8 minutes in total. Drain bacon on a paper towel, but reserve fat in pan if you wish to use it in treats. Add cooked bacon to bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add pumpkin puree, milk, oil and egg and pulse until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon and pulse until mixture is a smooth paste.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip with mixture and pipe “puppy paw” shapes onto prepared trays. To do this, first pipe centre pad to each paw about 1-1/2 in. (36 mm) across, and then pipe 3 smaller dots above base, to maketoes. Bake treats for about 15 minutes, until they lift easily from tray. Allow treats to cool on tray before packing in an airtight container.

Treats will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container (unrefrigerated) or they can be frozen indefinitely.

Makes about 2 ½ dozen soft treats.