Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

As my heart beats for dark chocolate, my father's heart beats for milk chocolate. Milk chocolate is a soft spot for him, a weakness he owns up to with his head held high. He is the man who pours too much chocolate syrup onto his ice cream, sneaks handfuls of chocolate chips from the freezer when he thinks no one is looking, and enjoys his version of s'mores when we sit around a bonfire—Hershey's chocolate sans marshmallows and graham crackers. After dinner, my father and I dig through the cupboards like addicts, seeking out chocolate in any and every form to satisfy our cravings.

Perhaps the chocolate gene is inherited.

When I started baking, my father was excited about all the chocolate treats that would line the counter tops. The chocolate cake and cookies and ice cream would bring a smile to his face so wide that when I look back on it I'm reminded of a child at Christmas time. However, the period of bliss was temporary. Looking to expand my repertoire, I started branching out and the baked goods that lined the counter tops were suddenly without chocolate.

With the scent of baking in the air, he'd come home from work and bound up the stairs to see what I had created. More often than not, his smile would falter as soon as he'd see what I had made. He would turn away to cover his obvious disappointment—heartbreaking for any daughter to see—and suggest that next time I make him a nice chocolate cake.

After moving out of my parent's house, with the entire world of baking at my feet, I found myself making chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting. I'm didn't think anything of it at first, not questioning where this urge suddenly came from. It wasn't until after I saw the cupcakes resting on the counter top that I suddenly felt guilty for creating the very dessert my father so often looked forward to (and was so often denied) when now I couldn't share them with him. I never knew it was possible to feel guilty about cupcakes without eating them.

I called up my father and confessed about the cupcakes I had baked, promising that the next time I came home I would make him the ultimate chocolate cake. He told me he was already looking forward to it. I swear I could feel that childlike smile begin to spread across his face again.

These Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes are a chocolate lover's dream. The chocolate cupcakes are moist and light, supporting the weight of a whipped chocolate glaze. The glaze is made with coconut milk so it does lend the faintest coconut flavor, but most people won't be able to detect it (alternatively, for a non-vegan version, you could easily substitute the coconut milk for heavy cream). These cupcakes are perfect to feed to those with dairy/egg allergies, vegans, or for anyone who loves a rich chocolate cupcake.

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Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Yields 12 cupcakes

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the vanilla extract, vinegar, oil, and water. Using a spatula, mix the batter until smooth.

Divide batter evenly between 12 baking cups (about 3/4 full). Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from baking pan and allow to cool to room temperature.

Whipped Chocolate Glaze
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (use dairy-free to keep vegan)
1/2 cup coconut milk (or heavy cream, for non-vegans)

Place chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl. Set aside.

On medium-high heat, bring coconut milk to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching. Pour milk over the chocolate, making sure that the milk covers the chocolate. Allow to sit for several minutes before stirring until smooth. Allow frosting to rest on the counter until it cools down and thickens to a pipe-able consistency (anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes).

Beat the frosting for several minutes until it incorporates air and feels lighter. Place frosting in a pastry bag (or plastic bag with the corner cut out) and pipe frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.