Seven Strong

February seventh never fails to sneak up on me, craftily covering my eyes for a brief moment of pure terror, whispering “Guess who?” with an air of barely veiled menace. It’s an unremarkable date, wedged in between real holidays and coming just at the tail end of January’s madness, which is also something I can set my watch by. It’s BitterSweet’s birthday, or blogaversary if you will, and today makes seven years on the air. Enough to stun me into uncomprehending silence, the hardest part is knowing where to go from here. 2013 does mark a clear shift though, as the sentiment morphs and mutates, it has come to mean something else at last. No longer is my disbelief surrounding the blog’s survival, because after all of the sweat, tears, laughter, and joy, it feels real. It feels permanent. Who would be so surprised that their child has made it to their seventh birthday, after all? I would hope that’s merely a happy side effect of the overall goal.

Time continues to march forward, and as a sign of growing older and maybe, just maybe, a little bit wiser, I’m no longer fighting quite as hard. BitterSweet has proven that we can all move with the current, swimming rather than being swept away, but that’s only true because of the beautiful people I’ve met on this crazy journey. My faceless online escape has effectively put me fully situated in the spotlight, more public and social than ever; it’s another aspect of the process that I’m trying not to struggle against too much.

A blog is only as good as its readers, and I do fully believe that I have the best on the web. Any other awards or accolades are a bonus. Thank you for giving me reason to keep nurturing this space, feeding my own imagination in concert. Even for those who never left a single comment or let their presence be known, I’m so grateful that there’s someone out there reading. Thank you, thank you.

And so we move on, because who could be too surprised about something as predictably scheduled as a birthday? This wasn’t the first, and it won’t be the last. For today, I’d be delighted to offer up a few party favors, starting with a big cookbook giveaway. Sharing books that I’ve reviewed and loved, I would be so happy to spread the joy and good food that they brought me. Up for offer are a single copy each of…

Let Them Eat Vegan! by Dreena Burton
Raw for Dessert by Jennifer Cornbleet
The Natural Vegan Kitchen by Christine Waltermyer
American Vegan Kitchen by Tamasin Noyes
Sweet Utopia by Sharon Valencik

If any of those titles caught your eye, leave me a comment detailing exactly which one you’d most want to win before this time next week, February 14th at midnight EST. Consider it an extra little dose of love, in case Valentine’s Day doesn’t quite deliver. Unfortunately, I must restrict this to residents of the US and Canada only for shipping purposes. There will be five winners in total, who will be chosen by a random number generator and contacted shortly thereafter.

UPDATE: It’s all over folks! The five lucky winners are as follows…

Let Them Eat Vegan – Julia H.
Natural Vegan Kitchen – Barb@ThatWasVegan?
Sweet Utopia – Anita
American Vegan Kitchen – Lovlie
Raw for Dessert – Natalie

Thanks for playing everyone! Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait another year for more giveaways… Keep your eyes peeled for more fun and freebies, coming soon.

In the meantime, what kind of birthday party would it be without a bit of cake? Since this is really all about you, my dear readers, I thought I would give out what the majority seems to want. Shockingly, despite my willingness to combine some crazy flavors and intricate treats, it’s still the easy, the classic, and the comforting that get all the attention. Thus, it’s about time I hit another staple out of the park, perfecting it into something that I would still want to eat in all of its unfussy glory.

Yellow vanilla cake, topped with dense chocolate fudge frosting, is about as classic as it gets. Rather than using the typical eggs and butter to impart that iconic golden hue, my cakes are tinted through a combination of turmeric and Yukon gold potatoes. Enriched and ultra-moist thanks to that tuber addition, the crumb is fluffy, tender, but sturdy enough to be baked into layers and stacked as well. It’s the birthday cake you always hope for but never quite get.

Well, this is for you, my friends. Thank you for making this birthday, and all the rest, possible.

Classic Yellow Cupcakes

3 Cups Cake Flour
1/2 Cup Potato Starch
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Turmeric
1 Cup Super-Smooth Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes
6 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine, Melted and Cooled
1/4 Cup Canola Oil
1 2/3 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups Plain Non-Dairy Milk
2 Teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar

Chocolate Fudge Frosting:

6 Ounces (1 Cup) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
6 Tablespoons Hazelnut or Vanilla-Flavored Vegan Creamer
3 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
1/2 Cup Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 Cups Non-Dairy Margarine, at Room Temperature
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 28 – 30 standard cupcake tins with papers. Alternatively, if you’d like to make a layer cake, lightly grease 2 9-inch round cake pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, potato starch, baking powder and soda, salt, and turmeric, fluffing up the dry goods and thoroughly combining them all. Once the mixture is homogeneous, set aside.

While the mashed potatoes are still warm, mix in the melted margarine. To get the potatoes silky-smooth and perfectly lump-free, toss them into your stand mixer and beat them mercilessly with the whisk attachment. Continue stirring while adding in the oil, sugar, and vanilla.

Separately, combine the non-dairy milk and vinegar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that everything is getting incorporated. Add half of the dry mixture into the stand mixer, along with half of the liquid. Start the machine in a low speed, and stir until mostly smooth. Finally introduce the remaining dry and wet ingredients, and mix just until the batter comes together with only a few lumps remaining. Be careful not to over-mix.

Fill the cupcake papers about 2/3rd of the way full and ease the pans into the center of your preheated oven. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes. If preparing cake layers, divide the batter equally between your two pans, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Bake until lightly golden on top, and a toothpick inserted into the centers pulls out cleanly. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, place the chocolate and “creamer” in a microwave-safe dish, and heat on high for 1 minute. Let stand for 5 minutes before stirring vigorously, to allow any remaining chocolate chunks to fully melt. Keep stirring until the mixture is perfectly smooth. If stubborn lumps remain, heat at additional intervals of 30 seconds until, stirring thoroughly after each trip to the microwave. Let the chocolate stand for 10 minutes before placing it in your food processor along with all of the remaining frosting components. Pulse a few times to get everything moving, and then blend, pausing periodically to scrape down the sides. Allow 1 – 3 minutes of blending for the frosting to come together and whip slightly. Once the mixture is silky-smooth, transfer it to a piping bag and frost away!

Makes 28 – 30 Cupcakes or 2 9-inch Round Cake Layers

Printable Recipe

124 thoughts on “Seven Strong

  1. Ooh I would love to have Let them eat Vegan! My husband and I just started a vegan diet a month ago and could really use some help :)

  2. It’s been 2 months for me and my family now adopting an “80-90%” vegan lifestyle. I’ve been sourcing cookbooks at the library and Let Them Eat Vegan! by Dreena Burton caught my eye because its one I’ve borrowed and loved! How fabulous it would be to receive it and the others! Thanks for the opportunity!

  3. Happy anniversary to BitterSweet! I have loved reading your blog and the recipes always look fantastic! And these cupcakes?! Perfect for my husband’s birthday tomorrow!

    Love all the cookbooks listed, but “Let Them Eat Vegan” looks pretty much right up my alley!

  4. I’m quite new to this blog, but have discovered that you are one of the most practical and organized blogs out there — not to mention beautifully illustrated! Thanks for your hard work. It’s really appreciated!
    Would love to win a copy of the American Vegan cookbook for Valentine’s. It’s neat that you feature a lot of the good work available –not just your own. Keep up the good work. And congratulations on 7 yrs!

  5. Wow! You are an inspiration! To writers, bakers, photographers and just plain foodies (of which I am at least two) alike. Here’s to another 7 years!

    I’d love to add to my cookbook stash with Sweet Utopia or Let Them Eat Vegan!

    Thank you for feeding my enjoyment and empowering my own baking aspirations!

  6. I would love to win Dreena’s “Let Them Eat Vegan” because I have read so many good reviews about it. My daughter was born in December last year and I want to raise her vegan so I am hoping this book offers some help. Happy 7th birthday to your blog!

  7. I would love to win a copy of Let Them Eat Vegan. I have been a follower of Dreena’s blog for a while, but just haven’t had the money to get the book. My hubby also just converted to veganism, so having some more resources for recipes would be wonderful!

  8. Congrats on 7 years! That’s wonderful! What an inspiration to the rest of us :) I love your blog and am always inspired by your gorgeous photography and innovative recipes. Nothing boring about them! I also own your dessert & a la mode cookbook and consider them my ‘go-tos’ when I want a dessert that is as tasty as it is impressive.

    I love all these cookbooks! I would love to win Let them Eat Vegan. I can’t believe I don’t own that one yet! I love Dreena’s blog, and your review and photographs of the dishes look great!

  9. 7 years – wow! That’s amazing. Ive only been at it for 4 and 7 I bet back then people thought you were crazy or were like WHAT’s a food blog? Heck, I still get that!

    Congrats & gorgeous cupcakes!

  10. Happy blogiversary, Hannah! I can’t believe 7 years has gone by since your first post…wow! I have all the books on the list except the Natural Vegan Kitchen, so I’ll throw my hat in the ring for that one. More than anything, though, I’m looking forward to your next book! xoxo

  11. Congratulations! I’m new to reading your blog but it seems like you’ve done some amazing stuff in those 7 years!

    I would love a copy of raw for dessert! I picked up my first raw dessert recipe book a few weeks ago and was too intimidated by the amount of prepwork to actually try any of them. That book looks like it has a much more reasonable amount of prepwork involved. Thanks :-)

  12. Congratulations, Hannah! Seven years is quite a long time! I think I’ve been reading for five of those years, and you’ve certainly grown and evolved in the best ways possible. I think if I won a book, I’d have to go with sweet utopia. I can resist dessert!

  13. Happy birthday to this amazing blog and its beautiful and literate young author. I can’t believe that you have been doing this for 7 years! It goes to show how dedicated and professional you are when you can keep posting amazing content and innovative recipes for 7 years Hannah :). I, for one, am glued to my rss feed reader whenever I see “bittersweet” waiting in the wings. I savour these posts and not only for the safe recipes. I am here for the culinary adventure! I adore the interesting twists and turns that your recipes take and how avant garde they get wending their way laterally and exiting stage right just to defy tradition. I love your creative mind. I love your obvious literary prowess and I see an amazing future for you whatever you choose to do. I can’t wait to see where the next 7 years are going to take you and your tail of shining enthusiastic readers…a tiny little Hannah comet tearing a hole in the fabric of boring cookery and showing us all just how amazing vegan cookery can really be :)

  14. It feels like it was just yesterday that I started reading all of your recipes! You never realize how fast time goes until a huge chunk as flown by, huh? :)

    I’m with the majority here — I’d love Dreena’s Let Them Eat Vegan!

  15. Wow! Seven years is such a great milestone. Thank you for sharing your creativity, art and delicious food with the world for seven (and hopefully many many more) years!

    If I had to pick I would go with Raw for Dessert. I already own most of the others and raw desserts are always the most inventive and tasty!

  16. I know it seems to be the most popular first choice, but I have to go with Let Them Eat Vegan, as well! (followed by Sweet Utopia :]). I’m bookmarking the cupcake recipe – I miss yellow cake so much, and my last several batches of cupcakes have been disasters, so I’m excited to try this one! Thank you, and congrats – here’s to seven more!!

  17. I’m so excited for you and Bittersweet! Happy 7th Birthiversary! (ha ha) Also, how sweet of you to offer up presents to others on this special date. Those are some awesome books! I really like the sound of The Natural Vegan Kitchen.

    Also, those cupcakes look delicious, as always!

  18. Happy 7th Blogaversary! Thank you for sharing such awesome recipes over the years.

    I would love a copy of Let Them Eat Vegan :)

  19. 7 YEARS! That is a seriously long time. Congratulations :) Don’t enter me for the giveaway as I’m in England but wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog and hope it carries on for another 7 years (and onwards..)!

  20. Happy 7 year blogaversary!! I always enjoy reading about what you’re creating and viewing your beautiful photographs :) I’m not much of a cook or baker, so don’t enter me into the drawing. I just wanted to say congratulations for your successful blog and I’m looking forward to many more years of BitterSweet!!

  21. wow 7 years! That is amazing, congrats!! And what a nice giveaway too, Thank you!
    It’s so hard to pick a book but if I must I would pick Let Then Eat Vegan … all the recipes sound so tasty!

  22. Hooooooooray! You are wonderful! It’s no doubt that this blog is going seven years strong when it has you running it. Brava! :)

    That recipe looks magnificent. I don’t know how I did it, but I somehow have a boyfriend (haha) and I will be baking for him for Valentine’s Day. I was gonna make him brownies, but considering the fact that cupcakes are what brought us together (he ordered some from me just as an excuse to see me), these seem to fit the bill better. Thanks, Hannah :)

    As for the giveaway, I’ve been vegan for ten years and still don’t own a Dreena Burton book (sacrilege!) so I’d be psyched to check that out. Thank you for all that you do. Cheers—to you, and to seven more years, and to shy girls who shine! :)

  23. Happy to have found your blog during this past year! I’d love to win a copy of “Let Them Eat Vegan” since I’ve heard about that one several times.

  24. Happy birthday and may you (and we) celebrate many more! I’d love any of those cookbooks, so if one happens to come my way, I’ll be thrilled. Either way, I’m enjoying the ride.


  25. I may never have left a comment before, but I look so forward to your daily blogs. They are beautiful in every way. Each and every one offers such sumptuous presentations, and they are always visually stunning!
    I’d love to have “Let them Eat Vegan” by Dreena Burton to add to my vast collection of vegan recipe books and vegan articles/recipes.

  26. Congratulation on 7 years!!! WOW! Great job! I love seeing your skills as a cook and photographer grow!
    I think I would love to win The Natural Vegan Kitchen by Christine Waltermyer. ^-^

  27. Congrats on the blog-iversary! I’ve loved reading and eating my way through your posts over the years. :)

    For the giveaway, I would love to receive Dreena Burton’s “Let Them Eat Vegan.”

  28. Congratulations! I am so excited to see what you still have to come! It’s no surprise to me that the cookbook that caught my eye out of that list is Sweet Utopia. Can’t fight my inclination to all things sugar.

  29. I love you. Thank the heavens you touched your fingers to the keys seven years ago, and kept writing. Happy blog-birthday. Let Them Eat Vegan!, because I should get onto some of these classic cookbooks and, um, for once not go for the sweet ones. Again, I love you. x

  30. Congrats!!!! What an accomplishment! I’ve only just began reading, but all the past posts I’ve seen have been lovely. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you and the blog!

    As for the giveaway, I’d be happy to win any of those cookbooks… What can I say, I love free stuff!

  31. Happy 7th Blogoversary Hannah!! Those cupcakes are adorable.. something to make on 14th for sure! Heres to many many more years!

    i need some Let them eat vegan on my shelf please:)

  32. Congratulations! I love your blog and your recipes are always phenomenal! I am a huge Dreena Burton fan so would have to go with Let Them Eat Vegan!

  33. Congrats on seven years of crazy awesome blog action! I think I’ve been following your blog for about three years now, which is actually a pretty long damn time too when you think about it. Here’s to many more awesome blog years ahead. :) And you’re too generous with the party favors – and they’re all great titles too. I think I’ve wanted American Vegan Kitchen the longest though! I really can’t get enough hearty comfort food.

    Also, you’re such a baking genie – I would have never thought to use a potato in a golden cake.

  34. I would love ANY of these cookbooks! But, if I have to choose one, I’d like natural vegan kitchen.
    Happy Blogversary! Keep up the great work, and thanks for another stellar recipe.

  35. Congrats on 7 years! It’s crazy to think we’ve been blogging that long (6ish on my end). The internet is getting old, amirite? Let them Eat Vegan looks like a lovely book–would love a copy if I happen to be drawn.

  36. Congratulations and happy blogday! The world – vegan and otherwise – is a better place because of you.

    Oh! I’ve had “Sweet Utopia” on my wishlist for ages. I’d love ti finally add it to my library. :)

  37. Happy Birthday! So glad to be a long time reader! I’d love to get Natural Vegan Kitchen, I like to be not only vegan but as healthy and unproccessed as possible as well.

  38. Happy Blogiversary, Hannah, 7 makes you such the veteran in Internet years, you must have started it so young! If I get lucky I’ll take Let Them Eat Vegan with your photos and the Pan-Fried Falafel Patties!

  39. Aww happy blog birthday my dear! It’s been so fun to follow along all these years! Here’s to many many more! I would love American Vegan Kitchen!

  40. 7 Years! Wow! Congrats, Hannah! Here’s to 7 more! :-)

    If I had to choose a book, it would either be Let them Eat Vegan, because it’s been on my wishlist for awhile, or Sweet Utopia, because hello!- desserts!

  41. My newly-turned-vegan neighbors are struggling to find tasty recipes, so I would give them my copy of American Vegan if I was so lucky to win! Thanks a bunch for keeping your blog alive and kicking!

  42. Congratulations on your seven year anniversary :D Thanks for all the wonderful recipes and discoveries!

    Both American Vegan Kitchen and Sweet Utopia look really appealing to me, but I’m leaning towards the former :) Mostly because the bulk of my cookbooks are sweets-themed (but on the other hand, they get used a lot, too).

  43. SWEET UTOPIA by Sharon Valencik. I’m a DESSERT person. And vegan is the order of my life. So, her book seems more appropriate to me. AND if you decide to have another identical giveaway, maybe I will choose the raw desserts book.

  44. I would love Raw for Dessert. I am totally into finding new ways to make desserts healthier yet still delicious, sounds like a great read. Thanks for the cupcake recipe, I always am looking for a great go to cupcake recipe.

  45. I would love Sweet Utopia by Sharon Valencik. Of course, all of the cookbooks look absolutely wonderful! However, I can honestly say that I rarely use recipes when I cook myself a meal. I nearly always just wing it! The only time I follow recipes is when I bake, so I know this book would be a welcome addition to my kitchen :)

  46. Yes I do agree that a blog is only as good as its readers and yours is outstanding as always! :) I own none of these bookss actually (I probably should have, but having been mostly on the move for the past years, I just didn’t want to invest in more books… until I settle somewhere.) All the books seem good and it’s hard to really go for one but maybe the American Vegan Kitchen would be an interesting one. :) Happy Blog Anniversary!

  47. Happy Birthday to Bittersweet! I am so glad I found your blog. I just recently bought LTEV so I think my choice of books would be Sweet Utopia. Vegan baking is tricky and I could use all the help I can get.

  48. Hannah you get on my nerves!! Your always makig something that I want to try! I just made the carrot cake sans raspberries cupcakes yesterday. Delicious! I’m always buying flour because of you! LOL! Congrats on the blogversary! Love the blog and I will be making this into a cake this weekend. By the way is there a particular flour that you use?? I tend to use King Arthur

  49. Wow, congrats on seven years! I am happy to be a follower and I’m always impressed by your posts! I’d love to own a copy of Let Them Eat Vegan, the recipes definitely sound like my taste!

  50. Congrats on going strong with the blog, it is one of few I keep on my browser’s toolbar. I would love a copy of Let Them Eat Vegan. I have Vive le Vegan! and love it. It is my go to book for a variety of recipes and would love her new cookbook.

  51. Seven years is a long time! Happy blogaversary! I just happen to have all of the ingredients for that “potato” cake in the house and I was even craving cupcakes. Perfect timing. If I were to win any of the books above, I’d love Let Them Eat Vegan!

  52. Congratulations dear Hannah! You were one of the first vegan genius bloggers I found years ago and I’ve admired your work ever since. I’m so glad you have found your calling and have been so successful and hopefully happy and at peace in your work!
    I would choose “Sweet Utopia” by Sharon Valencik, although any of them would be fabulous…they all are so talented!
    Wishing you all the best for your next year. Blessed be. :)

  53. Happy Birthday! :-) I actually found your cookbook before I found the blog, which was sort of exciting for me… I always enjoy the recipes and the photography, so I am not in the least surprised to see this blog “growing up” into something even more beautiful.

    As far as the cookbooks, I’d love any of them, as I have none of those particular ones. My particular favorite would be Let Them Eat Vegan, as I’ve gotten it from the library and really appreciate the focus on whole foods. Thanks for the giveaway!

  54. I would love Sharon Valencik’s Sweet Utopia! I love to make treats to bring to work, give to people as gifts, and eat myself!

  55. Hi. I would love Raw for Dessert! Our family started going raw in January and we’ve been loving it-making raw ice cream-who could imagine? Sooooo good. I have made a lemon cream pie (raw) and almond joy bars (raw, too). Yum!!

  56. Happy blogaversary! How lovely of you to be giving away presents to celebrate :)
    I’m not going to put my hand up to win though, I’m lucky enough to own a cop of the majority of those wonderful titles. I had come to your blog via your cookbooks so congrats on the 7 year mark, all your readers appreciate your hard work!

  57. I’d be tickled to own any one of them, but especially Sweet Utopia as I haven’t tackled vegan baking yet!

  58. I would love to win a copy of American Vegan Kitchen! I’ve seen it praised on many blogs.

    Also, I am making these cupcakes this afternoon! The use of gold potatoes is genius. I can’t wait to try them!

  59. Happy Blogaversary! I find your blog very creative and inspiring!

    All of the books look great, but I do feel drawn to American Vegan kitchen.

  60. American Vegan Kitchen would be my first choice – looks like a great way to get my omnivore kids to eat more vegan meals. The Natural Vegan Kitchen and Let Them Eat Vegan are very close 2nd and 3rd choices though. Congratulations on 7 years!

  61. Congratulations on seven years!! You’re an amaing renaissance lady! I’d love Drena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan – her books are fantastic.

  62. HELP HANNAH! My son’s 23rd is next week and he has a thing for strawberry cake and frosting. I’m going to use your strawberry buttercream frosting but I was hoping to be able to turn this yellow cake into a strawberry cake. Is that possible? Can I just sub out some or all of the non-dairy milk for the same strawberry reduction that I make for the frosting? If so, would it be equals amounts? Also, would I leave out the Tumeric and the apple cider vinegar?

    I’ve made your ultra moist chocolate cake and it was off the C-H-A-R-T-S!!!

    Thanks in advance for the hopefully quick response!!!

    1. Okay, this does sound like a cake emergency, but first things first, do not panic! You’re right on the money; swap out half of the non-dairy milk for the strawberry puree reduction, omit the turmeric, and substitute 1 tablespoon lemon juice instead of vinegar. If you’d like to give it a bit more texture, go ahead and throw a generous handful (a cup or so) of finely chopped fresh or frozen strawberries into the batter. It may take slightly longer to bake because it will be denser, but just keep an eye on it and test for doneness with a toothpick.

      Good luck and happy baking! Hope the crises is averted!

  63. Pretty! This was a really wonderful post.
    Thank you for supplying this info.

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