Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Espresso "Butter"cream

I did something pretty awesome the other night.

I made vegan cupcakes. OK, so that’s not such a big deal, per se. Maybe I should be more specific: I made vegan cupcakes that taste AWESOME, even to non-vegans.

I’ve had 3. Maybe 4. Who’s counting?

I had a request for some vegan cupcakes by a lady here at work. Admittedly, I was nervous. And skeptical. OK, mostly skeptical. How can anything without REAL butter be good? (BTW, vegan butter might even be better. I use the kind by Earth Balance and it’s awesome. All the taste of butter, but you don’t have to let it get to room temperature before you can beat it in the mixer. Perfect for impatient people like me!)

Boy, was I wrong. These cupcakes are better than many “real” cupcakes I’ve made! They are rich and creamy (thanks to the coconut milk) and…well…perfect.

The frosting I had to try a few different ways to get it right but I finally got it right. In a big way.

These cupcakes make me want to be a vegan.

Almost.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Espresso “Butter”cream
makes 24 cupcakes
adapted from Sweet Tooth

Cupcake Ingredients:
2 cups coconut milk (the kind from a can, not the kind you drink)
2/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 cup almond meal
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons strong coffee (or 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake tins with liners and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the coconut milk, oil, vanilla, and sugar.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until blended and smooth (but careful not to over-mix).
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting: Cream together the vegan butter and the shortening on medium speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, add the coffee and the vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until you get the consistency you like. If it turns out too thick, add water a tablespoon at a time until you’re happy with it.
Pipe over cooled cupcakes and dive in!

But try to share. (Consider that a challenge.)

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