Looking for a quick dessert to whip up for this weekend’s Memorial Day festivities? Or perhaps you are intrigued by Mark Bittman’s VB6 diet and want to start incorporating vegan foods into your everyday life? Even as an avid lover of buttery baked goodness, this recipe is my go-to for those days when I need to make a quick, yet impressive dessert. When I first tasted these cupcakes at Flour Bakery in Boston, I was floored to discover that they are both naturally vegan and low-fat. A dessert miracle! They consume relatively little time, make little mess, and retain moisture and complexity sans an excess of sugary frosting. Not only will your vegan friends be thrilled, but their rich, chocolate flavor will win over non-vegans alike–even die-hard dairy devotees. Bake these for your Memorial Day Cookout, and I promise they will be a hit.
Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery, Boston)
Yields 12 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong coffee (cooled to around room temperature)
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or canola)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
2/3 cup vegan dark chocolate chips (if you aren’t going for vegan, feel free to use regular chips)
Confectioner’s sugar (optional)
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup cupcake pan. If you have cast iron, I highly recommend using it.
-In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk coffee, oil, vanilla, and molasses. Pour the coffee mixture into the dry mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth and combined. Mix in chocolate chips. Distribute batter evenly into cupcake pans.
-Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched in the middle. Let cool completely in the pan. Remove cupcakes and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
-Store extras (if you are that lucky) in an airtight container at room temperature for two days.
Have suggestions on how to make these guys gluten-free? Let’s hear ‘em! You could also make this recipe into a loaf or cake by adjusting the cooking time (around 50 minutes). Feel free to replace the sugar in this recipe with agave, local raw honey, maple syrup, stevia, or whatever other sweeteners suit your fancy–just make sure to alter the ratios if needed. In the end, if you use high quality ingredients–like good chocolate, vanilla extract, and coffee–these deceptively simple cupcakes will be moist, complex, and heavenly enough to make you forget about butter and frosting. Expecting more than a dozen guests? It would be no problem to double or even triple the recipe to accommodate more, or hungrier, mouths. Better go stock up on cupcakes pans!