Hmph. Yeah, I can hear you. I know what you're thinking.
"So what? It's a cupcake. It looks chocolate, but whatev. Why do we care?"
Well... maybe you don't care. And I won't try to make you... but if you were to give a flip, I'd encourage you to find the animal products in this pile of ingredients.
Can't? Good. These chocolate & coconut cupcakes are vegan, babies.
Which explains why yesterday I found myself standing beside a friend, staring into a bowl of chocolate soy milk and vinegar and wondering if it would ever - in fact - curdle. (It didn't.)
We soldiered on though... and forked the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
And combined them (in two parts) with the soy & vinegar solution.
I then poured 1/4 of a cup of batter into each cupcake liner. Apparently while I did that, the vegan said or did something funny.
Exactly 15 minutes after the cupcakes went into the 350 degree oven, they were perfectly cooked and domed. And just... perfect. Chocolatey and moist but very light with a velvety crumb. It might be a new go to chocolate cake recipe for me.
The icing was not so perfect, but it was my first time trying to make a buttercream with... "buttery spread." Here you can see the shortening and buttery spread whipped together.
After adding the extracts, coconut milk, and powdered sugar, it pulled together like a weak icing. Not bad... but odd. As in, really light in texture but wicked sweet. So I'm going to do some finagling with the icing recipe. I'm going to consult Wilton next time.
The verdict: vegan shmegan. Maybe it's because I didn't have to do anything with silken tofu, but I didn't really find vegan baking too taxing. What does that mean? Well... I think it means I need a gluten free friend to come along and really rock my baking boat.
Should you or a vegan treat of yours want to follow in my ever-cautious, fumbling footsteps, here are the recipes I used.
Basic (Vegan) Chocolate Cake from Chow
1 cup soy milk (We used Light Chocolate Silk because I already had it.)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract (We used coconut because we thought, why not?)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and other extract, if using, to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK).
3. Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
Coconut Icing (a revision of the Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting from Chow)
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine (We used BestLife Buttery Spread because anyone who doesn't listen to Oprah should be questioned.)
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy (You already know I did not sift.)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (We used 1 t coconut extract and 1/2 t vanilla extract.)
1/4 cup plain soy milk or soy creamer (We used coconut milk.)
1. Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.
2. Add the vanilla and soy milk, and beat for another 5 to 7 minutes until fluffy.
Now that I'm writing out this recipe, I'm thinking that the coconut milk was the problem. I think it's a bit too thin to really bring together a nice icing. So perhaps before I go to all the way to Wilton, I'll just try making it with soy.