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The Go-To Chocolate Cupcake

The Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cupcake

If you pay attention to my cupcakes, you probably notice a lot of similarities from one recipe to the next. Why reinvent the wheel with each and every cupcake? I’ve baked a lot of cupcakes in the past few years, and slowly developed what I consider to be the ‘mother’ of all cupcake recipes. It’s my go-to recipe for any chocolate-derived cupcake, and simply by adapting the recipe a wee bit, adding or substituting an ingredient here and there, and pairing it with a different frosting, I create cupcakes like the Chocolate Amaretto Cupcakes, Dark Chocolate Creme de Menthe Cupcakes, or Double Shot Mocha Cupcakes (I have a similar tactic for vanilla-based cupcakes). It’s a vegan cupcake base – with no egg (perfect for those of you who love to lick the bowl) or dairy – and I think it’s absolutely divine. The coconut milk is the kicker. While you can’t taste any distinct coconut flavor in the final cake, the subtle nuttiness adds a depth of flavor that other milks just can’t reproduce. The fact that there is no butter or egg in the cake makes it light and airy, without any of the heaviness that plagues many traditional egg-based recipes. It is, if I do say so myself, the perfect cupcake.

Yet I realized I had never published just this recipe. Only the derivatives of it. I’ve posted something similar, dubbed Rich Chocolate Cupcakes, about a year and a half ago, of which this cupcake a direct descendant. Take those cupcakes, infused with the spirit of the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes (both recipes originally came from the bible of vegan cupcake baking, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World), and some good ol’ trial and error, and you have yourselves a hybrid cupcake that can be adapted in just about any way imaginable.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

And while I admit I have focused on thinking up new and interesting flavors, you should not underestimate the power of the chocolate cupcake. All by itself, no bells or whistles. Just chocolate. Topped with buttercream in its purest form. That’s all you really need. Even better? Make them mini (as pictured). Though, you have to watch yourself or you’ll have popped three of them without even blinking.

Go-To Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Makes 12 cupcakes (or 48 mini cupcakes).

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons almond meal
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

For Frosting:
1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
2-3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons soy creamer or heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract until incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in coconut milk mixture. Stir until just smooth (do not overmix).

Pour into liners, filling each with 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be no more than 2/3 full). For mini cupcakes, fill each with 1 tablespoon batter. Bake 18-20 minutes (or 10-12 for minis), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

For frosting, cream butter until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Mix in vanilla and cream. Continue adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition (depending on the temperature of your butter, you may need more or less sugar/cream to achieve the proper consistency). Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

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29 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Dani
    Posted On October 1, 2009 at 12:19 am

    This looks great! I’ve been meaning to try coconut milk (in your Hot Chocolate Cupcake recipe, as a matter of fact.) Thanks for explaining that it doesn’t have a strong coconut flavor. Half of my family loves coconut, and the other half strongly dislikes it.

    I love the new header on your site – the color is perfect! Please keep the cupcake recipes coming. Good luck in the Foodbuzz awards.

    Reply

  2. 2
    Posted On October 1, 2009 at 1:43 am

    I agree, sometimes you just bake enough variations of something and figure out you had the right one already, or can piece the right one together. your cupcakes look adorable :)

    Reply

  3. 3
    Posted On October 1, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Amazing!

    I haven’t baked in a little while so had a real hankering to make some cupcakes, the thing I like making most of all. I thought I’d like to make some chocolate ones as I don’t have a good recipe, so I thought, “I know, Love and Olive oil always has such lovely cupcake recipes” and bingo! On the front page!

    Thanks for this (and all your other fabulous recipes), they look gorgeous and I will definitely be making these tonight. People at work will be pleased tomorrow :D

    Reply

  4. 4
    Posted On October 1, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Damn I wish I could cook.

    Reply

  5. 5
    Courtney L
    Posted On October 1, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Thank you for this! I would also love to see your basic vanilla cupcake recipe–it sounds amazing!

    Reply

  6. 6
    Posted On October 1, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    What fabulous cupcakes!

    Reply

  7. 7
    Posted On October 1, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    So I did make these and they turned out great, and dead easy too! Thanks again!

    Reply

  8. 8
    Posted On October 2, 2009 at 9:36 am

    This is a nice recipe! They turn out nice and light not too dense like so many cupcakes do. Your photos are very nice!

    Reply

  9. 9
    Posted On October 2, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Love the way you piped the frosting. These look awesome!

    Reply

  10. 10
    Posted On October 2, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    LOVELY photo!

    Carli from Velveeta Ain’t Food

    Reply

  11. 11
    Ashley
    Posted On October 3, 2009 at 12:20 am

    I’ve made these twice in two days!! Lovely cupcakes! Moist yet crumbly, fluffy, yet not dense. If not for the coconut milk they would be made witg stuff I always have stocked up!!! Heck, I’m going to have to stock on it since it’s my new go to chocolate cupcake recipe!!! Would this also work for chocolate cake? Or is it too crumbly without the egg? I’m going try to make these gluten free soon!

    Reply

  12. 12
    Posted On October 3, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Wow, Ashley! Twice in two days is impressive, and definitely says a lot about these cupcakes! :) So glad you enjoy them.

    As far as using this recipe for cake, you can try, but I doubt it’ll rise properly. There isn’t enough ‘structure’ to the batter (because of no egg) to support itself in anything larger than a cupcake. It’d probably still taste great, just might fall a bit flat. But it never hurts to try (and please let me know how it turns out if you do.)

    Reply

  13. 13
    Nida
    Posted On October 7, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    What will removing the Almond meal do to the final taste?

    Reply

  14. 14
    amy
    Posted On December 3, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I am allergic to Almonds. What can I use to substitute it?

    Reply

  15. 15
    Posted On December 4, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Amy – feel free to substitute another nut meal (hazlenuts would be delicious) nut flour, or finely ground nut. Or if you can’t have any nuts, try simply whole wheat flour. It’ll give a bit of the same texture as the almond meal, although won’t add anything to the flavor.

    Reply

  16. 16
    Posted On January 18, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I just made a gluten free variation of these (substituted the one cup floor for one cup of bob’s red mill gluten free all purpose baking flour) and they came out great! i also didn’t have any soy creamer (not only will there be celiacs but also vegans at the birthday dinner i’m going to tonight), so i substituted 2 tbs of the coconut milk in the frosting. yum!! great site!

    Reply

  17. 17
    Posted On January 19, 2010 at 1:59 am

    Thanks for the update, Melanie! That is fabulous to know the gluten-free substitution worked beautifully! I’m sure all the GF folks who have been oogling these cupcakes will appreciate it very much. :)

    Reply

  18. 18
    Posted On April 3, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I just made these for Easter dinner tomorrow. (My best friend is a vegan) They are absolutely divine. I don’t think I’m going to tell the rest of my family that they’re vegan. We’ll see how they react. :) Thanks for the great recipe!!

    Reply

  19. 19
    TMB
    Posted On July 30, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I made these last night and was surprised how moist they were, despite having no butter/eggs. I couldn’t taste the coconut in the coconut milk at all. My siblings and coworkers were all surprised to hear that they were vegan, ’cause if I didn’t tell them they wouldn’t have known. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipe. I love your site and pictures. -TMB-

    Reply

  20. 20
    Faye
    Posted On October 20, 2010 at 1:27 am

    I made these last night and although they were really light and fluffy, I think they were too light that it fell apart when I bit into it. I waited at least an hour to let them cool so that couldn’t be it. I didn’t sift the dry ingredients together but instead whisk them all in a bowl. Could that have been it?

    Reply

  21. 21
    Reagan
    Posted On December 29, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Wow. I am new to baking and made these last night for a little post Christmas treat. My whole family oohed and awed over these delicious cupcakes. I put just a little dollop of frosting on the top, only to have my whole family requesting for more!

    Reply

  22. 22
    Aleka
    Posted On April 4, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I made these cupcakes for a vegan barbeque I attended. The only thing I changed was using pecan meal instead of almond meal (it’s all I had). They were phenomenal! I mean crazy delicious! Better than any other vegan cupcake I have ever had! Thank you a million times over for the recipe! :)

    Reply

  23. 23
    Posted On January 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Wow, These cupcakes are heavenly. Rich chocolate taste, light and airy. I live at 6300′ and made the recipe pretty much as written. They turned out great…I highly recommend this recipe.

    Reply

  24. 24
    Kay
    Posted On March 12, 2012 at 3:39 am

    Hi. These look awesome. I must be overlooking something as I did not see the measurement for the cocoa powder listed in the recipe. Do u mind posting it?

    Reply

    • Posted On March 20, 2012 at 11:55 am

      It’s there… 1/3 cup. :) Frosting is vanilla so no cocoa there.

  25. 25
    Liz
    Posted On June 26, 2012 at 5:42 am

    I discovered the joys of using coconut milk in vegan baking long ago. I was trying to convert the CakeLove recipe to dairy free. It calls for half and half and I figured that coconut milk would be a good thing to try, and it was! It gives a great moistness and richness. I am excited to try these cupcakes. I have to bake gluten free too, and I usually just sub out the all purpose flour with a pre made all purpose gf flour blend. So recipes that have other flavors like almond flour, or extracts, etc usually help to make up for a sometimes weird taste from the gluten free flour. This one looks great.

    Reply

  26. 26
    Posted On June 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Do you use the coconut milk that comes in a can and you cook with, or the coconut milk that you can drink?

    Reply

  27. 27
    Rebecca Freedman
    Posted On April 28, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Is the coconut milk the same as the stuff in a can I use when I make curry or is it a different type of coconut milk?  Do you use the full fat version?
    Thanks- I’m making cupcakes for my daughter’s 7th birthday and one of her friends is allergic to dairy and eggs so these are perfect!

    Reply

    • Posted On April 28, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      Yep, canned is what I use, both full fat and light should work. I know they sell cartons of it now but I haven’t tried this recipe with that.

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