Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes & Strawberry “Buttercream” Frosting

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Well, Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day! (Or Galentine’s Day, or Singles Awareness Day, or whatever other name you have for February 14th!)

With the day o’ love coming up I decided to do a Valentine’s-inspired recipe this week. When I think of Valentine’s day, the first thing that comes to mind is that I’m single but, once I stop crying, the next thing, or rather things, that comes to mind are strawberries. Who doesn’t love a good fresh strawberry? I know I could eat them, and have eaten them, by the pint. Oh who am I kidding, I’ve eaten them by the pound before. #StrawberrySkank

So with strawberries in mind I decided to come up with a recipe for fresh and from scratch strawberry cupcakes with a strawberry “buttercream” frosting to go on top. Why did I take the time to let you know that they are not only fresh but also from scratch? Because 9 out of 10 strawberry cupcake/cake recipes you find out there are not fresh or from scratch. Most ask you to plop in some strawberry gelatin dessert mix and some just doctor up a box of strawberry cake mix -either way, no thank you. My recipe calls for real strawberries and that makes all the difference.

Oh look, here come some fresh, real strawberries right now…

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Beautiful, aren’t they?

The first step is to process the strawberries by hulling, halving, and then blending them up with some lemon juice until smooth and liquidy. My blender has an “extract” button which pulverizes whatever you put in there so I opted to use this feature with my strawberries to ensure that their tiny little seeds would not be floating around in my puree.

You will be using this puree in both the cupcakes and the frosting but you will have a little leftover to do something fun with or you know, you could just drink that leftover strawberry goodness right down, if you’re so inclined to do so. And I was.

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To get started on the cupcakes you’re going to whisk together the dry ingredients and then set them aside for a moment until they’re needed. (Pretty easy so far, right?!)

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Next you’re going to get the wet ingredients, including some of the strawberry puree, combined in a separate bowl.

One of the wet ingredients in this cupcake recipe is vegan strawberry yogurt. For this recipe I prefer a soy-based rather than nut-based yogurt and if your yogurt has bits of strawberries in it then you, like me, will have to scoop those out before you move on to the next step. We want out cupcakes to be light and lovely and not have little lumps in them so it’s important that you get those out. It’ll only take a minute, I promise.

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Once your wet ingredients are combined and the strawberry lumps from the yogurt have been removed, you can then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Should you desire a more pink-y cupcake you are more than welcome to add in a few drops of pink or red food coloring here but I personally wanted to keep my cupcakes au naturel.

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Fill your cupcake papers (12 to be precise) a smidge over halfway full then bake ’em for 20-25 minutes. When done, as with most cupcakes, a toothpick stuck in the center will come out clean.

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Transfer your little piggy pink beauties to a baking rack to cool completely before frosting.

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As for the frosting, it couldn’t be any easier to make a vegan “buttercream.” Simply combine the room temperature vegan butter, a little strawberry puree, vanilla, and salt in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment attached, or in a bowl and use a hand mixer. With the mixer on low you’re going to slowly add in the powdered sugar in parts. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, crank up the speed of the mixer and whip a little air into your frosting for just a few seconds until it is light and fluffy. Again, if you’d prefer a more pink-y color you can add in some food coloring but as with the cupcakes, I went for the natural color which is a very pale shade of peachy pink.

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After you’ve allowed your cupcakes to cool fully you can then frost them with your strawberry “buttercream” frosting and add any little special touch you want to them -I added some itty bitty heart sprinkles because after all, these are Valentine’s cupcakes.

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Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes & Strawberry 'Buttercream' Frosting

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: about 40 minutes plus time for the cupcakes to cool and then to frost them
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

    For the puree:
  • About 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • For the cupcakes:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup strawberry puree
  • 1 stick of vegan butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegan strawberry yogurt (preferably soy-based)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Red or pink food coloring (optional)
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 stick of vegan butter, room temperature
  • About 1/3 cup strawberry puree
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • A pinch of salt
  • Red or pink food coloring (optional)
  • About 3 1/3 cups of powdered sugar

Directions

    For the puree:
  1. Combine both ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and liquidy.
  2. For the cupcakes:
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a muffin/cupcake pan by lining 12 cups with cupcake papers.
  4. In a medium or large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup mix the sugar, 1/2 cup of strawberry puree, melted vegan butter, almond milk, vegan strawberry yogurt, and vanilla together and stir to combine. If your strawberry yogurt has little bits of real strawberries in it then you’ll want to fish those out before you move on to the next step -we don’t want those in our cupcakes because they’ll make our cupcakes lumpy. If you desire a more pink-y cupcake you can add a couple drops of red or pink food coloring to the wet ingredients but this is completely optional.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cupcake papers and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. When cupcakes are done, transfer them to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before frosting. Cupcakes will keep in an airtight container for 2-3 days and because of the fresh fruit in both them and the frosting they should be kept in the fridge when not being served.
  7. For the frosting:
  8. Combine the vegan butter, about 1/3 cup strawberry puree, vanilla, and salt in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment attached, or in a bowl and use a hand mixer. If you desire a more pink-y frosting you can also add in a couple drops of red or pink food coloring but this is completely optional.
  9. With the mixer on low slowly add in the powdered sugar in parts. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, crank up the speed of the mixer to whip a little air into the frosting. Be sure to not overwork the frosting -it should only take a few seconds of mixing on a higher speed to get the frosting light and fluffy.

 

Vegan Double Chocolate Muffins

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Coffeehouses across the nation serve up a multitude of muffins each day and, while they are all damn tasty, one muffin reins supreme in my mind -the double chocolate muffin. This chocolatey delight is pretty much a chocolate cupcake left naked. In other words, it’s a socially acceptable way to eat a cupcake for breakfast. (Should you need that kind of approval.) But alas, I just can’t find these beauties (made vegan) anywhere near me so I’ve had to resort to making my own.

My super easy version of this coffeehouse classic includes 2 very special ingredients: black beans and instant espresso.

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Stay with me now. I swear, on the life of my stand mixer, that you can’t tell there are black beans in these muffins. So why even put them in there? Because they add a bunch of good stuff like iron, fiber, and protein, among other things. What about the espresso, why add that? The espresso amplifies the chocolate flavor, helps perk you up just a little, and adds a nice amount of bitterness to balance out the sweetness. These 2 ingredients make this recipe.

Whether for breakfast or for a snack, these deliciously decadent muffins are sure to satisfy your craving for chocolate while being a healthier alternative to traditional double chocolate muffins. And ladies, these are the best thing when you’re dealing with “girl flu.” #ChocolateAndIronForTheWinBitches

To begin with, I get the espresso powder doing its thing by mixing it with a some hot water. Then I set it aside until I’m ready for it.

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Next, I whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and then set that aside until I need it. Be sure to whisk like you mean it and break down any clumps of cocoa powder you may have, otherwise your muffins won’t come together as nicely in the end.

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Now it’s time to get the wet ingredients, including the black beans and the espresso mixture, combined. For this I like to use my blender to get them all nice and smooth. Blending will especially be useful in helping to break down the black beans so that they become “hidden” in your muffins. If you don’t have a blender you could try using an immersion blender (aka stick blender), if you have one of those, otherwise perhaps plan to borrow someones blender and in return give them some of your muffins. (There’s enough to share and sharing is caring after all.)

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Once you’ve achieved liquidy goodness with the wet ingredients, you’re going to add them into the dry ingredients and stir just a little to start combining the two parts. Then, toss in the chocolate chips and fold everything together until fully combined.

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When fully combined, the batter will look heavenly. Seriously, if I could fill a bathtub with this mixture I would do it in a heartbeat. It’s so fluffy and luscious. I simply can’t stop looking at it. It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?

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After you’ve regained your composure, you can scoop the batter into your lined muffin pan. Be generous in filing the cups up -I fill them 3/4 of the way up, sometimes just a smidge more than that. The muffins will rise but up, not out, so don’t worry about them expanding onto the top of the pan and getting stuck or burning.

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Bake ’em for 15 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when the tops are matte and firm to the touch. When they’re done, be sure to let them cool a little before serving.

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Vegan Double Chocolate Muffins

  • Servings: about 16 muffins
  • Time: 35 minutes (55 minutes if you have to bake them in 2 batches)
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Substitute for 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • About 3/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a muffin pan by lining the cups.
  2. In a small bowl, combine espresso powder with hot water. Stir to combine then set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour with cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk vigorously until no clumps remain then set aside.
  4. In a blender, combine espresso mixture with the black beans, almond milk, sugar, oil, egg substitute, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth. Once smooth, add the mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just a little to start combining them together. Add in the chocolate chips then fold everything together until completely combined.
  5. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes. When done, muffin tops will be matte and firm. Transfer muffins to cooling rack and let cool slightly before serving. Muffins will keep fresh on the counter in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

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Ah, chocolate chip cookies. The cookie which seems to be on everyone’s list was never really a favorite of mine -until I went vegan, that is. A couple months into going vegan I found myself craving baked good goodness. (Say that 10 times fast!) I ended up discovering a whole section in the dairy case at WF devoted to vegan (and some gluten free) cookie dough. Every time I bought one of these little tubs of yum I had every intention on baking up all of the dough, but it never failed that every raw bit of it ended up being scooped into my mouth by the spoonful. #NoShame

Eventually I managed to drop the spoon and let the oven do it’s thing long enough to have actual chocolate chip cookies, and that’s when I began to fall in love. However, me being the ever unsatisfied, tortured-artist-esque, slightly OCD perfectionist that I am, I had to figure out a way to do one of America’s favorite cookies my way. (Which is the better way. Most of the time.)

First things first I knew that it had to be 100% vegan (obvi). I also knew that I wanted the recipe to be just like mom used to make -my mom, not yours. Then came the flash of brilliance -nuts. Pecans, to be precise. And that’s how my like-mom-used-to-make, 100% vegan, chocolate chip pecan cookies came to be. They’re simple, classic, and oh-so-good.

Whether you choose to shovel spoonfuls of raw dough in your mouth (no judgement), or manage to bake up the whole batch, is up to you. Either way, I’m sure you’ll love this recipe and I’m sure your non-vegan family and friends will love it too –mine do! Best of all, nobody would ever guess that they’re vegan (by look or taste) so if you feel the urge to drop the v-bomb on your unsuspecting audience just as they bite into your baked deliciousness you might get a, “No way!” And who doesn’t love that?

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The first step is to combine the dry ingredients. Once combined, set them aside and get the wet ingredients combined.

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Getting the wet ingredients combined begins with creaming the vegan butter together with the 2 sugars. I used my stand mixer for this step but you could do this by hand if you wanted to.

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Once you’ve achieved creamy glory you then can add in the vanilla and the egg substitute. For most of the baking I do I prefer to use Ener-G which gets mixed with water (see below). Follow the instructions on the box for the quantity your recipe (in this case, this recipe) calls for, and don’t worry if you’ve got some clumps -the mixer will work those out for you.

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After all of your wet ingredients have been combined you can then add the dry to the wet. I add it a 1/2 cup at a time while my mixer is on it’s lowest speed. After all of the dry has been added in I then turn the mixer up a notch or two for just just a few seconds to make sure the dough is smooth and well combined.

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Now you can add in the chocolate chips and the pecans but be sure to fold those in together by hand so as to not overwork your dough. To transform the raw dough into cookies (should you wish to do that) I first use a 1″ cookie scoop to get a little dough.

Using a cookie scoop is not necessary (you could just use a spoon or two) but I highly recommend you use one. Using a cookie scoop helps to insure that all of your cookies are the same size so that they all bake up at the same time. And it’s not like cookie scoops are super expensive. And they’re fun to use. And they’re shiny. Okay, I’m done now, but seriously get yo’self one.

Plop your ball of dough out into the palm of your hand and then form it into a flattened disk.

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Place the disks on 2 parchment-lined cookie sheets (aka sheet pans), fairly close together but not touching. They will spread but only ever so slightly so you can pack them in pretty good. Bake ’em off and you’re almost done.

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Once you’ve taken them out of the oven you must resist the urge to grab one right away. They need to rest for a bit (10-15 minutes) on the pan so that they don’t just fall apart in your hand -unless that’s what you’re going for, I mean. You do you, boo.

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Once they’ve had a good rest you can then transfer them to an airtight container, where they’ll keep for about 3 days, or simply transfer them to your mouth while they’re still a little warm and melty.

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Vegan Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

  • Servings: about 40 (3-inch) cookies
  • Time: 50 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks of vegan butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • Substitute for 2 eggs (I used Ener-G!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare 2 cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer cream the butter together with the 2 sugars until smooth and creamy. About 1 minute on low-medium speed. Add in the egg replacer and vanilla and beat for 1 more minute to combine.
  4. With mixer on lowest speed, add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, a 1/2 cup at a time. Allow each addition to work in a little before adding the next. When all of the dry mixture has been added turn the speed up 1 or 2 levels for just 1 minute more.
  5. Remove bowl from stand mixer and by hand, fold in the chocolate chips and the pecans.
  6. Using a 1″ (small) cookie scoop, scoop out a ball of dough into your hand then form it into a flattened disk shape. Place the disks onto your cookie sheets then bake for approximately 15 minutes. Cookies will still be a little soft and lightly golden-brown on the bottom when they’re done.
  7. Let the cookies rest on the pan for 10-15 minutes before transferring to an airtight container. Cookies will keep fresh for about 3 days when stored properly.