These are moist, tender little cupcake morsels packed with chocolate flavor. Oh yes, and these happen to be vegan chocolate cupcakes! Pair them with your favorite vegan (or non-vegan) icing for a decidedly decadent treat.
I made these little cupcakes with a fair amount of trepidation. Cake without eggs? How unnatural! Would they be terribly dry? Would the cupcakes fail to rise and instead resemble brown hockey pucks? I took the plunge with my vegan neighbor coming to dinner. I was prepared to grab my car keys and run to Whole Foods for a vegan dessert if they were a flop.
Color me surprised when the cupcakes emerged from the oven looking just like…cupcakes. Disbelieving, I quickly grabbed one and pulled its steaming little body apart for a taste test. Tender, check; moist, check; fully-leavened, check.
In fact, I loved these cupcakes so much I barely managed a picture before we devoured them.
Chocolate Cocoa Cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Makes 18 Cupcakes
Oven Temp: 375 F | Bake Time: 10-12 minutes
Adapted from Moosewood’s 6-Minute Cake [OK, so I'm slow!]
1 & 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder (Ghirardelli or other good quality cocoa is best)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Cold Water or Coffee (or use 1 tbsp instant espresso with water)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tbsp Vinegar (I used Apple Cider Vinegar)
Pre-heat oven to 375F. Prepare your pan with cupcake liners.
[Interesting side-note, Thomas Keller recommends pre-heating long enough for your oven to reach temperature and cycle on and off three (3) times or at least 45 minutes.]
Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar in large mixing bowl. Mix to combine.
In a measuring bowl, combine vegetable oil, water or coffee and vanilla extract. Add liquid mixture to your dry ingredients. Mix batter until smooth (around 1-2 minutes by hand).
Add the vinegar and stir quickly to combine. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed. You’ll see the vinegar reacting and forming bubbles with the baking soda. You don’t want to let too much of that leavening reaction escape.
Pour your batter into your cupcake tins. Bake 10-12 minutes. Test for doneness around 10 minutes with a toothpick – it will come out clean when the cupcakes are cooked. Let your cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Easy Vegan Icing
1/2 cup Vegan Margarine
1/2 cup Shortening
3 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar (sifted if clumpy)
3 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 -3 tbsp cup Soy/Almond Milk (if needed for thinning)
Beat the vegan margarine and shortening together on medium speed with your mixer until fully combined and fluffy (around 3-5 minutes). Turn the mixer off and add 3.5 cups of powdered sugar. Turn the mixer on low until the powdered sugar has been incorporated, then increase the speed to medium and beat until well combined (about 4 more minutes). Add vanilla extract and milk, if needed. Mix another 2 minutes.
Tips: I like to beat the heck out of shortening based frosting as I find it improves the mouth-feel (less gritty/greasy). If you prefer your icing less sweet, you may want to add the sugar in stages until you reach your desired sweetness. Dissolving a little salt with the liquids can draw back the sweetness somewhat, too.
To Make Passionfruit Icing: Instead of vanilla extract, add 3-4 tbsp of passionfruit puree (I get mine from the frozen section of Mexican markets in the bay area). You will not need to add the milk as the puree will thin the icing. Optional: top the cupcake with Valrhona Dark Chocolate Pearls.
To Make Vanilla Bean Icing: Add ground vanilla beans or the contents of a vanilla bean pod to the icing. (I get my ground vanilla beans from Amazon.)