I've made vegan chocolate cupcakes before but this recipe is quite different! The first ones were super yummy but they had quite a bit of molasses in them and tasted a lot like chocolate gingerbread! Not a problem for me but other people may be a bit weirded out by that! These are a lot more traditional and are some of the most moist cupcakes I have ever had! You would never know these were vegan if you just grabbed one and tried it! :)
It's our nephew's first birthday tomorrow and I was asked to make a batch of vegan cupcakes for the party. Originally, I had planned to make 1 batch of the molasses ones and 1 batch of these but I decided after some thought just to go with these.
This is also my first time using agave nectar as a sweetener - I'm sold! This stuff is totally natural, 100% plant-based, and has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. It also makes a wonderful vegan substitute for honey. You can mix in into any baking recipe in place of granulated sugar (the ratio is 3/4 cup agave nectar to 1 cup sugar) or stir it into tea in place of honey.
I didn't make the frosting but I'll include the recipe just in case you would like to try it - I've had it before and it is very tasty! Good excuse to satisfy your curiosity and buy a carton of soy milk. :)
PS (and then I swear I will get to the recipe!): The uncooked batter is soooo tasty! :) Best part about vegan baking, really, you get to lick the spoon! And the whisk, and any that drips on the counter, and the spatula... ;)
Here's the recipe - I got this from the mother of one of my students. My changes are in green.
Makes 24 cupcakes
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups agave nectar (or 2 cups sugar)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp. white or cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup applesauce (I made some and used that - see tip below!)
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (yeay for chocolate being a superfood! in moderation, of course!)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
For the frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar (you can get some that is "vegan")
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup vegan buttery spread (Earth Balance works well) or vegetable oil
1/3 cup vanilla soy or rice milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Optional fresh raspberries, strawberries, or edible flowers as a garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake papers.
2. Sift the flour and cocoa into a large bowl. Add the baking soda and salt and stir until combined. If you're using dry sugar, mix it in with these ingredients.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the agave nectar (if using it), water, oil, lemon juice, applesauce, and vanilla. Stir well. Pour the water mixture into the dry mixture, whisking vigourously until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
4. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners (mine was really runny! This is OK). Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (mine only needed 15) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
5. To prepare the frosting, blend powdered sugar and cocoa. Melt the buttery spread and then add it, along with the soy milk and vanilla, to the sugar and cocoa mixture. Beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes and garnish if desired.
**Note: You can also make this into a layer cake. Use the same amounts as above but place the completed batter into 2 9-inch round cake pans or 1 9x13-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Bake these cakes for 25-30 minutes at 350 (or until a toothpick comes out clean).
**Applesauce note: So I made this really yummy applesauce yesterday to put into these cupcakes. I kept telling myself "OK, you'll need to give this a quick spin in the food processor so it's not lumpy." Yeah, guess what blondie here forgot to do?! :) Took me a minute to figure out why my batter was lumpy, too! I thought something weird had happened and the agave had reacted with the cocoa or something. :) No, I just had a blonde moment. I was a bit worried the cakes would have weird chunks of apple in them but you can hardly tell.. in the future, or if you try this, make sure and puree the applesauce before adding it to the batter.
Additionally, the applesauce is actually totally optional but it really does add to the moistness of these cakes so it is worth it to throw it in if you have some. It's also super-quick to make! :)
I found this in the Fresh Mama's cookbook. The recipe in that book was inspired by one from The Passionate Vegetarian.