This recipe started not with the cupcakes, as a matter of fact, but with the frosting. A while ago I was in charge of bringing a dessert to a big family dinner. I was planning on making a strawberry tart…except the pastry cream didn’t set. It didn’t set. And with approximately five minutes until I had to leave the house, I had an empty (and still slightly warm) tart shell, a handful of strawberries, and a bowlful of soupy milk that was definitely not pastry cream.
It was at this point that I remembered this instant chocolate mousse, and with some very enthusiastic yelling from my sister, whisked enough cocoa powder, sugar, and milk together to make a pretty decent tart filling. And then it occurred to me the next day…this might make a pretty decent cupcake frosting too.
Turns out it makes an even better than decent cupcake frosting; in fact, it’s thick and smooth and rich enough to be pretty similar to chocolate ganache, except a whole lot easier to make and probably better for you too.
As for the cupcakes, the only giveaway that they’re any healthier than most is that slightly darker coloring from the coconut sugar. Otherwise they’re just as light and fluffy and moist as any regular recipe, but much more high vibe.
I don’t make a lot of cupcakes, much less over the top ones like so many others, and I’m definitely not too skilled at decorating them. These aren’t “Strawberry Margarita Cinco De Mayo” cupcakes or “Death by Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl with Cinnamon Cookie Crumb” cupcakes either. They’re just a plain vanilla cupcake with a dreamy chocolate frosting, and I’m just gonna stop there.
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Vanilla Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting
Makes 12 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup neutral oil (I used canola)
1/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
For the icing:
1 1/2 cup high quality cocoa powder (the better the cocoa powder, the better the frosting)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons almond milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 12 count muffin pan or line with paper cups. In a glass liquid measuring cup, add the apple cider vinegar. Add the almond milk, and set aside for 5-10 minutes to curdle. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, coconut sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the oil, yogurt, vanilla and almond extracts to the measuring cup with the almond milk and whisk until completely combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined. There may still be a few lumps in the batter; that’s okay. Divide evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
While the cupcakes are baking, make the frosting. Sift together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar to remove any lumps. And the almond milk, first 1/2 cup then 1 tablespoon at a time, and stir until thick. If the frosting is too runny, add more cocoa powder or powdered sugar. If it is too thick, add a touch more milk. Place in the refrigerator to chill while the cupcakes cool, where it will thicken.
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled and your frosting has thickened, frost with a pastry bag or a spoon to serve.