Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (with lots of variations)

This one's been in the works for a while.  I've gotten a number of requests over the years for an egg-free cupcake but I never bothered with it because the demand wasn't all that great.  But last month, I had a reason to finally give it a shot.

Let me back up a bit.  Egg-free cake?  Why not fully vegan?  A lot of people I know who are vegetarian don't eat eggs, but they're ok with milk and other dairy.  And those were the folks requesting egg-free cakes.   But I figured that if I were going to make an egg-free cake, I may as well just go fully vegan as I had also gotten a few requests for vegan cake recipes.

I'm not the biggest fan of vegan baked goods.  There are certainly good ones out there, but the ones that rely on soy margarine or shortening have unfortunately done quite a bit of damage to my perception of egg and dairy free baked goods.  (Those, and the terrible vegan muffins they made at the coffee shop I worked at in college.)  However, after doing a little digging around, I realized that I could make a vegan cake that relied on real ingredients - basically a regular cake minus the eggs and butter.

My cousin is one of those aforementioned egg-avoiders.  She's also a huge fan of chocolate, so for her birthday, I decided to gift her with my first attempt at egg-free (well, actually vegan) chocolate cupcakes.  Thankfully that first attempt came out really well.

I was surprised at how good these cupcakes came out - between the texture, flavor, and ease of preparation (no butter to bring to room temperature, no mixer required, and they're in the oven in literally 5 minutes), I think these might become my standard chocolate cake.  They're moist, tender, and intensely chocolatey.  Another thing I love about them is how easy it is to make variations - for my cousin, I made chocolate-olive oil cupcakes by using extra virgin olive oil in place of the canola oil; for my friend's Super Bowl party, I made chocolate-brown ale cupcakes by using brown ale in place of the milk.

The moral of this convoluted story?  Vegan chocolate cupcakes can be delicious.  Perhaps even more so than ones made with that classic combination of butter, eggs, and milk.


Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
makes 12 regular size or 36 mini cupcakes

1 cup flour
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon good quality cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup rice milk or other liquid*
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil**
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

*Sounds vague, but you can use regular milk (for egg-free but not vegan), soy milk, rice milk, nut milk, or even beer.
** For a sophisticated treat, use extra virgin olive oil.


Heat oven to 350F.  Line a muffin pan with papers and set aside.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and set aside.

Add the rice milk, sugar, oil, vinegar, and vanilla to a medium bowl and whisk well to combine.  Add this mixture to the flour mixture and gently whisk to combine. 

Divide the batter among the lined cups and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 18 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
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