What is a birthday without cupcakes? Well, still a pretty great day – but cupcakes never hurt. It was my sister’s birthday recently and she put in a request for chocolate cupcakes with coffee icing. I was only too happy to oblige. Turning to my trusty copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, with just a few extra special spicing tweaks I was able to produce some delicious results.
The chocolate cupcakes themselves are a wonderful all purpose kind of chocolate cake – easy to make, fairly forgiving, and chocolatey, moist, and delicious. Simple additions of cinnamon, espresso power, chile powder, or other spices can transform them according to your your culinary whims.
The coffee buttercream is equally straightforward and has a ‘just right’ coffee flavour – not overpowering, but definitely coffee. I used a piping bag and number four size tip to style the icing, but you could just use a palette knife to spread the icing.
Some notes: I did experience mild difficulty getting the cupcakes out of the cupcake pan (which had been greased – perhaps I was too impatient), so my only word of advice would be, if baking these for people who might not enjoy a cupcake that leans a little to the left or to the right, bake them in an (eco-friendly) paper cup, and save yourself the worry. Try something like the ones offered by If You Care.
Also, I added espresso powder to the cupcake batter, which tasted amazing pre-baking but wasn’t really noticeable post-baking. If you are hoarding your espresso powder, you could skip it in the cupcakes. Otherwise, if espresso powder is in free supply in your home, perhaps it serves to enhance the chocolate flavour (I didn’t have a non-espressoed one for a scientific taste comparison), so it can’t hurt to include.
To finish, I dusted the cupcakes with cinnamon, but you could try cocoa power, a mix of cinnamon and cocoa power, espresso power, shaved chocolate, chocolate-covered coffee beans, or cocoa nibs.
- 1 cup soy milk (can also use almond or rice milk; soy just curdles a bit better)
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 organic cane sugar
- 1/3 cup organic canola oil (I’ve also used olive oil and coconut oil)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup organic unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Depending on how long your oven takes to pre-heat, either turn on now to 350F or do this in a few minutes. Once measured, the recipe comes together very quickly, so take that into consideration.
2. Whisk together the soy milk and apple cider vinegar and let stand for a few minutes to curdle.
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
4. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla to the milk/vinegar mixture and whisk energetically until foamy.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk/stir until combined and most lumps have been incorporated. This is a fairly thin batter, so don’t worry if that’s how yours looks.
6. Pour into your muffin tin (lined or un-lined; if un-lined, then greased) to a 3/4 full level and bake for about 18 or 20 minutes, or until the top of the cupcake springs back after gently pressed.
- 1/2 cup vegan butter or margarine (i.e. Earth Balance) OR 1/4 cup vegan butter + 1/4 cup vegan non-hydrogenated shortening
- 1 3/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tsps espresso powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1. Beat together the margarine/shortening and icing sugar until well combined, perhaps 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Then, add the vanilla and espresso milk and continue to mix, at a medium speed, until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. If you find your icing looks too soft to pipe or spread, sift some additional icing sugar into the icing. Alternatively, if the icing seems too stiff, add small amounts of milk until you reach the consistency you want for decorating.