The concept of “Vegan Baking” has often befuddled me. One of the hallmarks of baking is richness—a richness that you get from high-quality butter, egg yolks, and whole milk. And, well, Vegans don’t eat any of those.
But, what’s a girl to do when one of her best friends (and cosmic sister) is getting married? Well, I made Vegan cupcakes. And Vegan frosting. The cupcakes were chocolate, and I used Valhrona 100% cocoa powder. Valhrona is the premier French chocolatier and by far the richest chocolate available commercially, so I hoped that some of that richness would make up for the lack of dairy. The recipe was fairly straight forward.
The frosting was a little trickier. I adapted a recipe for Vegan vanilla frosting. According to online commenters, the frosting was too sweet. The dilemma with American frosting (and the reason why a meringue buttercream is preferable) is that you have to add TONS of powdered sugar to get the frosting to a workable consistency. Vegan frosting is pretty much like other American frostings: powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and butter (or Vegan butter). With a classic buttercream, you make a meringue, so the sugar has much less to do with the consistency. Classic buttercreams are definitely preferable, but not a possibility since they rely heavily on egg whites (eggs = NOT Vegan).
So, I replaced some of the powdered sugar with 100% unsweetened cocoa in an attempt to cut down on the sweetness of the frosting. The cupcakes were definitely a hit! I’d even recommend making them WITHOUT frosting—just dust them with powdered sugar and cocoa. They are delicious on their own! (Although for purposes of entertaining, most people dislike the concept of “naked cupcakes.”)
Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
1 ½ cups cake flour
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large regular bowl with a whisk), mix together the oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water until well combined. Add flour mixture to the mixer and mix until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Batter should look and feel more watery than normal cake batters.
- Pour batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup ½ to ¾ full. Transfer to oven and bake, rotating pan halfway through cooking, until a cake tester inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.
- Immediately remove cupcakes from muffin tin and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting. (If you choose not to frost these cupcakes, dust with cocoa powder and powdered sugar immediately before serving.)
Adapted from Divvies Bakery Recipe in Martha Stewart’s “Cupcakes”
Vegan Vanilla Frosting
1 ¾ cups confectioner’s sugar
½ cup dairy-free margarine, chilled
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rice milk
- Combine 1 ¼ c. confectioner’s sugar, margarine, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Add rice milk, continuing until well-combined. Slowly add remaining ½ c. confectioner’s sugar. Mix until well combined. Store in airtight container, refrigerated, up to one week.
Courtesy of Divvie’s Bakery via marthastewart.com