….Chocolate peanut butter cupcakes, and they’re vegan.
I feel there is little more to say- chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter speak for themselves in my opinion- but since I have all this blank white space in front of me I’ll tell you a little about them.
The cake recipe itself is my standard vegan chocolate cake that I have been using for a long time (I have actually posted this cake recipe before, but as a whole cake, not as cupcakes). It comes from the Moosewood New Classics cookbook, by the Moosewood Collective. I don’t really love a lot of the recipes in the book, but owning it is completely worthwhile just for the chocolate cake and vegan frostings. Some of the basic ideas behind what makes a chocolate cake work are as follows: A good quality cocoa powder (or a couple of tablespoons of the “good stuff” mixed into your hershey’s unsweetened- or whatever you use) and something to compliment the chocolate flavor. In my experience this can be either brewed coffee or tea added in with your liquids. The Moosewood recipe calls for brewed coffee or water, but I have never made a satisfying chocolate cake with water (it always tastes…watery). So if coffee is not your thing, use a nice black tea (decaf is fine)or something with a little spice like chai is even better. Also, as with muffins and all quickbreads, do not over mix the batter. You want to fold the wet ingredients into the dry rather than vigorously mix. Otherwise you will get what it called tunneling- small holes in your finished product- and a tougher consistency than you wold normally want in a cake, due to the gluten being activated.
Okay enough science here’s the recipe:
Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes, adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics by the Moosewood Collective
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour, or a mix of white and whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use a Tablespoon or two of black onyx cocoa powder, mixed in with the regular. You can find it at The Savory Spice Shop)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar (the original recipe calls for 1 cup, but I found that too sweet- play with it and see what works for you)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chilled brewed coffee or tea
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs of apple cider vinegar ( if you do not have apple cider vinegar you can substitute 1 1/2 Tbs plain white vinegar– not white wine vinegar!)
Preheat the oven to 375 F
Grease one 12 -cup muffin tin or line with cupcake papers.
In a medium bowl sift (mix with a whisk) flour, cocoa, bkg soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar. In another bowl, combine the oil, water,coffee/tea and vanilla. Pour the liquid into the dry and mix until smooth with as few strokes as possible.
Add the vinegar and stir briefly, the baking soda will begin reacting with the acid right away, leaving pale swirls in the batter. Without wasting any time, pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool on a rack in pan for a few minutes before removing cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup peanut butter
3-4 Tbs water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar (you probably want to sift the sugar first, otherwise your frosting will be a little lumpy- it doesn’t affect the taste, just the appearance. You can use a sieve or small strainer to sift)
In a double boiler or small heavy saucepan melt the chocolate on medium heat. While it melts beat together the peanut butter, water and vanilla until smooth (be careful not to let it overcook/burn). Beat in the confectioners sugar and add the melted chocolate until blended. You want to use the frosting fairly quickly, as it hardens up the longer it sits out. You can spread it onto the cupcakes using the back of a small spoon or a mini offset spatula.