Thursday, December 29, 2011

Almond Joy Cupcakes


Whenever someone finds out that I'm vegan, the conversation frequently includes an exchange that goes something like this:
"Yup, I'm vegan."
"Wow!  I could never be vegan.  I could be vegetarian, but I just couldn't give up [names favorite food item].  Don't you miss it?"
Actually, there are very few non-vegan foods that I miss.  I was never a big steak-eater; I'm completely satisfied with coconut milk-based ice cream instead of cow's milk-based ice cream; I have always enjoyed non-vegan foods such as beans, nuts and vegetables; and so on.  However, even though I don't crave non-vegan foods, I still enjoy many of the flavor combinations that are featured in non-vegan foods.  Hey, just because I don't eat most candy bars doesn't mean I have to give up the combination of coconut, chocolate, and almond!  So, today I made Almond Joy Cupcakes.

Almond Joy Cupcakes: Chocolate-Almond cake with Coconut Icing

Recipe:
Almond Joy Cupcakes


Chocolate-Almond Cake:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup almond milk or soymilk 
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder or 1 tablespoon instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Coconut Icing:
  • 2 - 8 ounce packages of Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese (or another non-dairy cream cheese)
  • 1 cup vegan butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring/extract
  • 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line cupcake pans with 24 baking cups and set aside.


Next, prepare the cake:  mix together the first six cake ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together the soy/almond milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and almond extract.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.  In a separated small bowl, dissolve the espresso powder into the boiling water and immediately fold into the batter.  (The batter will be thin.)  Distribute the batter evenly into the baking cups--I started out with about 1/4 cup batter in each cup.  Finally, sprinkle some chocolate chips into each baking cup.  Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Meanwhile, prepare the icing.  Beat the non-dairy cream cheese and vegan butter until smooth using an electric mixer.  Then gradually mix in the powdered sugar and beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy.  Add the vanilla and coconut flavoring and beat another 30 seconds.  Mix in the coconut by hand.


Top the cooled cupcakes with icing, and feel free to garnish with chocolate chips or almonds.

Comments:

Taste:
These cupcakes are really good, though they aren't an exact replica of an Almond Joy candy bar.  The chocolate almond in the cake goes nicely with the icing, but the additional cream cheese flavor adds a little something extra.  If you don't want the cream cheese flavor and are looking for a more traditional taste, feel free to remove the cream cheese and add more of the butter and powdered sugar. 
Accessibility: 
The low accessibility rating comes from the fact that vegan cream cheese may be hard to find in some locations.
Ease of Preparation: 
This is a pretty standard, simple cupcake recipe. 
Non-vegan friendliness: 
My family liked the cupcakes, but they weren't blown away.  I still have some tweaking to do!

You can also use this recipe to make a cake rather than cupcakes: just increase the baking time and use two 8-inch baking pans.

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