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Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Tender vegan chocolate cupcakes are given lift and moisture from aquafaba and coconut oil. The lush chocolate frosting is more creamy and chocolatey than you can imagine.

They vegan chocolate cupcakes possess such an intensely dark chocolate smack that no one would even dream belongs to a cupcake that lacks customary cake ingredients like butter and eggs. And the secret to the airy texture is aquafaba, that trendy starchy liquid found in canned beans or chickpeas that’s been making appearances in vegan baked goods like crazy the last several years. It’s like a secret weapon for vegan baking. We know. It didn’t sound compelling to us, either. And then we tried it. Swear there’s not a trace of beaniness in these little lovelies. In fact, we can pretty much guarantee no one’s even going to know they’re vegan if you don’t tell them.–Angie Zoobkoff

WHAT IS AQUAFABA?

Aquafaba is commonly made from chickpea water, although some people have used soy or neutral-tasting beans like cannellini as a base. Whipped into a stiff foam, it’s an excellent replacement for egg whites. The starchy liquid is a great binder directly from the can, but what really makes it magical is that it whips and creates a foam. Aquafaba is able to trap air, giving items structure at the same time it delivers a fluffy crumb and lift.

To measure the amount of aquafaba called for in a recipe, begin by vigorously shaking the unopened can of chickpeas. Next, drain the chickpeas through a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl, and reserve the beans for another use. Thoroughly stir the aquafaba and then measure. While it may not be visible to the naked eye, the starches in the chickpea liquid settle in the can—in order to take advantage of them, you’ll need to agitate them to ensure they’re evenly distributed throughout the liquid.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Vegan chocolate cupcakes, half frosted with vegan chocolate frosting, on a wire rack beside a bowl of frosting.

Tender vegan chocolate cupcakes are given lift and moisture from aquafaba and coconut oil. The lush chocolate frosting is more creamy and chocolatey than you can imagine.

America’s Test Kitchen

Prep 45 mins

Cook 20 mins

Total 4 hrs

Dessert

American

12 to 18 cupcakes

372 kcal

5 from 1 vote

For the vegan chocolate frosting

For the vegan chocolate cupcakes

Make the vegan chocolate frosting

  • If you’re making the vegan chocolate cupcakes using coconut cream, you can skip the first two steps and proceed with step 3. If you’re making the cupcakes using coconut milk, pop the unopened cans into the refrigerator and leave them for at least 24 hours to ensure that two distinct layers form.
  • If you’re using coconut milk, skim cream layer from each can and measure out 3/4 cups cream (save any extra cream and the milky liquid for another use).

  • In a microwave safe bowl, combine coconut cream, chocolate chips, and salt and microwave in 30 second intervals at 50 percent power, whisking occasionally, until melted and smooth, 2 to 4 minutes. Alternately, in a saucepan set over low heat, stir together coconut cream, chocolate chips, and salt until melted and smooth. 

  • Transfer to bowl of stand mixer. Place plastic wrap directly against surface of chocolate mixture and refrigerate until cooled completely and texture resembles firm cream cheese, about 3 hours, stirring halfway through chilling. (If mixture has chilled for longer and is very stiff, let stand at room temperature to soften but still cool.)

Make the vegan chocolate cupcakes

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

  • In a microwave safe bowl, combine water, cocoa, chocolate, oil, and vanilla and microwave in 30 second intervals at 50 percent power, whisking occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. Alternately, in a saucepan set over low heat stir together the water, cocoa, chocolate, oil, and vanilla until melted and smooth, taking care not to burn the chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly.

  • Meanwhile, using a stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip aquafaba and cream of tartar on high speed until the mixture forms soft peaks, 3 to 9 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir chocolate mixture into flour mixture until batter is thoroughly combined and smooth, about 1 minute. Stir one-third of whipped aquafaba into batter to lighten, then gently fold in remaining aquafaba until no white streaks remain.
  • Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake until tops are set and spring back when pressed lightly, 16 to 20 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking.

  • Let cupcakes cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes, then move to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

  • While the cupcakes are cooling, finish preparing the frosting. Using a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip at high speed until fluffy, mousse-like soft peaks form, 2 to 4 minutes, scraping down bowl halfway through whipping. Spread frosting evenly over cupcakes and serve. 

Notes

*Do not use natural cocoa powder in this recipe as it gives the cupcakes a rubbery, spongy texture.
**Not all brands of semisweet and bittersweet chocolate are vegan so check the ingredient list carefully of whatever brand you intend to use.

Serving: 1cupcakeCalories: 372kcal (19%)Carbohydrates: 45g (15%)Protein: 4g (8%)Fat: 21g (32%)Saturated Fat: 15g (94%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 2mg (1%)Sodium: 150mg (7%)Potassium: 341mg (10%)Fiber: 4g (17%)Sugar: 27g (30%)Vitamin A: 14IUVitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 37mg (4%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Originally published August 29, 2018

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