So these little cakes are variations on basic chocolate cupcakes in the delightful Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World cookbook that has guided my forays into vegan cupcake baking.
So, my ingredients:
1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 vegan cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
aaaaand a few tablespoons of instant coffee crystals to make these chocolate cupcakes mochatastic.
This is actually a listed variation (more or less) of the recipe in this wonderful book:
So, these don’t take long to mix together, meaning the direction to “Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the muffin pan” is a really really good one.
When you whisk (or, in my case, fork) together the the soy milk and vinegar. This makes the soy milk function a bit like buttermilk…which I’m pretty sure means it makes the cupcakes more moist, and have a better crumb.
“Crumb”, in case you don’t know, is basically a way of describing the texture of a baked good. Over-mixed cupcakes with a wheat-flour base usually have a rubbery, chewy cupcake. In any case, you’re curdling the soy milk with the vinegar, and it is important for tasty cupcakes.
After it sits for a couple minutes, add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract, and use your whisk (or fork) to beat it “until foamy”. This should be done in a relatively large bowl, because you add the dry ingredients to the wet. Yes, for the sake of this recipe, sugar is a wet ingredient. For the mocha cupcakes, add the instant coffee to this and mix it in. It’ll look super wonky, but trust me, it works just fine.
In a different bowl (it doesn’t have to be as large), sift together the cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Sifting is important to get the lumps out of the cocoa and flour, and to more evenly distribute the baking soda, powder and salt.
Now that the dry ingredients are mixed, dump that into the wet ingredients and mix until no large lumps remain. It doesn’t have to be 100% smooth, and make sure to not overbeat it, because that will make for really unsexy cupcakes.
Pour into your waiting liners, filling 2/3-3/4 of the way full, and push into the 350 degree oven. It’s pretty important for the cupcakes to not sit out in the cupcakes waiting for the oven, because the chemical reactions that make for tasty cupcakes are happening already.
In any case, bake for about 18-20 minutes, based on the idiosyncrasies of your oven and your elevation. When a knife (pointy and sharp) or toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, pull them out of the oven and let them sit on cooling racks.
Though they’re technically done cooking, chemical stuff is still happening that gives them shape and form, so resist the urge to fiddle with them for at least a little bit. You’ll get more cupcake from the liner if it has the chance to set up, anyways.
I halved this, because I wasn’t piping on frosting. I did use a ziplock bag to “pipe” accents, but that isn’t terribly frosting-consuming, so halving it is good for getting enough without too much left over.
I don’t live in a particularly vegan friendly part of town, so I had to improvise. Instead of the using the non-hydrogenated shortening and margarine, I found mostly non-hydrogenated animal-product free butter-flavored vegetable shortening. I checked the ingredient list for any animal products, and it checked out. Weirdly, a lot of vegetable margarine/shortening has butter flavoring from actual milk products, so I needed to go through ALL of the ingredients to make sure I was buying what I thought I was.
1/2 cup of my weird buttery vegan shortening (to adhere better to the recipe, it’d be 1/4 cup shortening, 1/4 cup margarine)
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (sifting makes the texture easier to get right)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup cold and wicked strong coffee
Beat together the shortening and margarine if using both, and beat until creamy regardless of the fat product you’re using. Add the sugar and mix until its evenly distributed in the shortening/margarine, and then add the vanilla and coffee. If it’s too runny after adding the coffee, you can probably let it set up a bit in the fridge (10 minutes or so) or add more powdered sugar tablespoon by tablespoon until you reach the desired consistency.
For my fancypants designs, after I put down the base layer of coffee-flavored frosting, I added cocoa powder to the remaining frosting (with a teaspoon of coffee to maintain consistency), mixed thoroughly, dumped into a ziplock bag, and proceeded to suck out all the air and seal it, and cut off a teeny corner of the bag to make a lo-fi piping bag.
And then they went to a birthday party, where the cupcakes celebrated by being eaten. Hooray!
(Also, just as an FYI: Baking before drinking coffee/being fully awake means making horribly mistakes, like forgetting the oil. Forgetting the oil means you have to start over. The lesson: fat is important).