Monday, April 9, 2007

Tapering and cupcakes

This week is the long-awaited week of tapering. Last week, most of us marathoners took the mileage down a couple of notches, but the mileage takes a real nose dive this week. Today Emily and I started our run 25 minutes later than we usually do (at 5:45 instead of 5:20) and ran for less than an hour. It was almost daylight when we started, and we still finished before 6:40 am. That never happens! Emily, Audrey, and I usually do a longer loop on Mondays, so it felt especially awkward to run so little today. I threw in some long strides in the last mile to mix it up a bit.

Tapering is always a mental challenge for me. The drastic drop in mileage leaves you with so much self doubt. One day, I feel slow. The next day, my legs will feel heavy and tired. Sitting at a desk all day at work leaves me creaky and tight. Everyday I wonder how I will manage to run all those miles on Marathon Monday. I go through this mental routine every time I run a marathon. It never gets easier!

Perhaps one of the reasons I feel slow at the beginning of this tapering period is because I ate about 73 cupcakes on Friday. Good thing the race volunteers opt to hand out gatorade and gu instead of carefully-portioned vegan cupcakes.

Here is one of my favorite recipes. It's from the best cupcake cookbook ever, Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Hazlenut Cupcakes with Mocha Hazelnut Mousse Filling
makes 12 cupcakes

Cupcake ingredients
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup hazlenut meal or almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup soy milk or rice milk
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp hazlenut extract

Mousse ingredients
6 ounces extra-firm silken tofu (half a package of the aseptic kind) (yes, tofu!)
2 tbsp soy milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp hazlenut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 ounces semisweet chocolate or 2/3 cup chocolate chips

First, make the mousse filling. In a food processor or blender, combine the tofu, soy milk, maple syrup, and extracts. Blend until smooth. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or just put it in small saucepan over another pot with boiling water). Stir till it melts. Once the melted chocolate has cooled, pour it into the tofu mixture and blend again till smooth. Transfer to an airtight containter and refrigerate at least an hour until firm.

Now, make the cupcakes. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the milk and ground flaxseeds in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, almond or hazlenut meal, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Add all the other ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until just mixed. Pour into cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 of the way. Bake 22-24 minutes.

Once the cupcakes are cool, poke a narrow, deep hole in the center of each cupcake. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse and pipe it into the holes you made in the cupcakes.

To make the ganache, melt some more chocolate with a teeny bit of soymilk. Once it's cool and smooth, spread over the tops of the cupcakes. Chill slightly to set. Eat. Yum.

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