Happy Tuesday! Welcome to the first recipe post of Baking, I Love You.
Chocolate Cupcakes. Did that catch your attention?
Cupcakes have sort of become the darling of the baking world these past few years. Cupcake-only bake shops have popped up everywhere, particularly in California and NYC. There’s Yummy Cupcakes, the Vanilla Bakeshop, and of course the ever famous Magnolia Bakery and Sprinkles Cupcakes. Needless to say, I’m sure you’ve all tried at least one (or ten, or twenty) cupcake recipes… so why post about a plain, regular ol’ chocolate cupcake? Because these cupcakes are a bit of a surprise (hence, the Ambush Cupcake) because… they are vegan.
Now, before you stop reading this post because I’ve mentioned a word that brings to mind hippie food, and bland, dry baked goods that contain far too many pieces of dried fruits, nuts and none of the good stuff, let me say that these are the BEST, and my go-to recipe, beloved by all in my omnivorous household. You can’t tell that they don’t contain any eggs or real butter. These little guys are moist and springy, full of chocolate flavor and absolutely de-lic-ious. The secret is the vegan butter (I prefer Earth Balance). It acts as regular butter, whipped light and fluffy with sugar and real vanilla extract, providing lightness and richness. I topped these with a vegan peanut butter-buttercream, but some of my other favorite variations include chocolate ganache, whipped vanilla buttercream, and fudge-filled.
Let these little cakes ambush your stomach and become a believer in trying new things.
Before we get to the recipe, there are a few tips every baker should know. Cupcake baking is pretty straight forward, but these few tidbits will help your results become more consistent.
- Always mix your dry ingredients together in a small bowl thoroughly before adding them to your wet ingredients. This means whisking them with a fork/whisk etc to completely mix them. This will properly distribute your leaveners, providing a good rise and less of those random gaping holes in your cake’s texture.
- Fill your cupcake liners 3/4 of the way up. It seems like a lot (this recipe only makes 10 cupcakes when you properly fill the liners). This rule, combined with the next tip, will make sure your cupcakes rise into perfect, perky domes, avoiding those pesky flat tops.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, put your cupcake pan in the oven, and then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees. This burst of heat at the beginning starts the rising process, again forming those perfect domed tops. Read more about this on the Best Friends for Frosting blog.
Chocolate Ambush Cupcakes
adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons) vegan butter, pulled out 10-15 minutes before use to slightly soften it (I use Earth Balance and think it’s the best)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (use the real thing, especially in vegan baking, as the flavor really comes through)
1/2 teaspoon extract- either additional vanilla, almond, or chocolate
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder, regular or dutch-processed for an extra dark look
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with paper or foil liners (Grease-proof is best).
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and whisk with a fork until well mixed. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, add the apple cider vinegar to the soy milk (no stirring necessary). Set aside. (I do this in a graduated measuring cup- just measure out 1 cup of soy milk in the cup, then add the vinegar. It saves dishes.)
- In a large bowl with a hand mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about one minute. (Be careful not to overbeat, as vegan butter behaves slightly differently than regular and can be over-softened.) Add in the sugar and beat until well combined, then beat in the vanilla.
- Add the soy milk mixture to the butter mixture and beat until foamy. (Again, don’t over-mix. If you’re using a stand mixer, your mixture may look curdled at this point. Don’t be alarmed, just mix for a few seconds here, and mix a little extra after adding the dry ingredients to smooth your batter out.)
- Add in your dry ingredients and beat until smooth and no large lumps remain, about 30 seconds.
- Fill your liners 3/4 of the way to the top.
- Put the pan in the oven, and turn the temperature down to 325 degrees. The initial burst of heat will help your cupcakes rise into perfect, domed tops.
- Bake for 16-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.
Besides vanilla, chocolate is one of the most versatile flavors out there and can be paired with just about anything you like. These are just some of the many possibilities:
- Peanut Butter-Buttercream (My choice for this batch, also adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
- Chocolate ganache (If you’re making these for someone who is actually vegan, make sure you use vegan chocolate- not all chocolates are created equal)
- Whipped vanilla buttercream
- Chai tea frosting, complete with lots of spices
- Chocolate buttercream, or whipped chocolate ganache
- Just a sprinkling of powdered sugar
A final word on Chocolate Ambush Cupcakes:
- Although I highly recommend the vegan butter, these can also be made with vegetable oil. Just swap it out by mixing the oil, vanilla, and sugar together until dissolved- no beating required.
- Since this method only makes 10 cupcakes, if you are looking for 12, or 24, etc, feel free to double the recipe. I frequently multiply recipes by 1.5, and have had no issues. Just do the math.