Friday, November 11, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Warm blankets, fuzzy sweaters, and chocolate cake of course. My best friend and I were in the same math class last year. One day it was our friend's birthday, and we decided to make cupcakes for the class to celebrate. After having them once, the class became obsessed, and we became the official cupcake bakers. My friend's mom gave us a great recipe that happens to be vegan, but it also happens to be the best chocolate cake recipe I've ever used. The cake is moist and delicious. We always made these with a simple buttercream, leaving it off for our friend who can't have dairy.
Towards the end of the year, we were bringing in cupcakes nearly every week. If it wasn't a friend's birthday, we would find an excuse - some weird holiday, or a celebrity's birthday. It was always the same recipe - the only difference was that we would dye the icing a different color every week. We kept it simple. We once tried bringing in vanilla cupcakes (for my birthday), but they just weren't as good and we decided to stick to these.
I switched schools this fall when we started high school, but my best friend stayed at my old school. I still see her every weekend, but I miss those afternoons baking cupcakes for math class. A few weeks ago, she said she had volunteered to bring in cupcakes for a class, so we decided to make them together. Our old recipe, nice and simple. Yum.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake (from The Joy of Cooking)
Whisk together in a large bowl until well blended:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1⁄3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Whisk until smooth. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly.
Bake about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Slide a thin knife around the cake to detach it from the pan. Invert the cake and peel off the paper liner, if using. Let cool right side up on the rack.
*One recipe makes about 12 cupcakes - we always double it. Bake the cupcakes for about 15 minutes - check on them until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Quick Buttercream Frosting (from Baking Bites)
1 cup butter, room temerature
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar (approx. 1 lb.)
2-4 tablespoons milk

Cream butter with an electric mixer until soft. Add vanilla and gradually add in sugar until most has been incorporated. Mixture will look a bit sandy. Add in milk as necessary (start with 2 tbsp), along with any remaining sugar, until frosting reaches an easy to work with consistency.
*This frosting is so good, we eat it by the spoonful. Our teacher loved it so much, she asked us to bring in whatever was leftover for her. So every week, she got her own little tub of frosting. She says she used it as a dip for pretzels. Yum.