At the International Food Blogger Conference earlier this year, my friend Stephanie O’Dea from A Year of Slow Cooking demoed the new Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System. It’s a slow cooker that also lets you steam roast, sear, simmer, saute, and – most importantly to me – steam bake. The recipe book that comes with the Ninja states, “Steam baking only requires you to add HALF the fat of traditional cake and loaf recipes!”
Could I really make cupcakes with half the fat and have them taste as good as traditional cupcakes? I was given a free Ninja to review and I had to put it to the test.
My Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes get their fat content half from oil and half from butter. I cut the fat in half by removing all of the oil. Then, I baked some of the batter in my oven and some in the Ninja. I wanted to see what would happen to my batter when I only used half of the fat and baked it normally versus using the Ninja’s steam-infused baking exactly following the instructions laid out in their manual.
- Oven: Baking with half the fat in my oven yielded a dense, heavy cupcake. Note that my Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes with full-fat are never described as dense.
- Ninja: Baking with half the fat in the Ninja yielded a pillowy, light cupcake. I loved the texture, but I will warn you that it was a bit different than a typical cupcake. The texture more closely resembled that of a Chinese steamed bun (baozi) – a little chewy on the outside and airy and bread-like on the inside.
- Both the oven and the Ninja cupcakes tasted quite good. Cutting the fat in half did not have much of an effect on the taste of the Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes.
- Oven: The cupcakes didn’t dome as well as their full-fat counterparts do, but otherwise they looked great.
- Ninja: The majority of the cupcakes split at the top (as shown above). I contacted the PR folks from Ninja about this to see if the split was caused by some error on my part. I was told that this is just something that happens with steam-infused baking. The steam-infused cupcakes are not the prettiest, but once you frost them, no one will know the difference.
- Without question, if I wanted to cut the fat of my recipes in half, I would choose to make them in the Ninja. The cupcakes were just as enjoyable as their higher-fat counterparts.
Although I wouldn’t recommend purchasing a Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System just to make cupcakes, I would highly recommend taking a look at the Ninja if you are on the market for a slow cooker. Why get a standard slow cooker when you can get one that has so many different functions?!
Have you heard of the Ninja? Have you tried it? Leave me a note in the comments.