from heart to hands to table

Mini Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

I have never been a morning person. I religiously hit snooze at least 4-6 times every morning and the only way to get myself moving is to quite literally leap from the bed and get straight into the shower. The shower must then be followed by coffee. Only then, well snoozed, braced for the day by hot water and caffeine, do I really feel like myself and feel prepared for the day. It may seem crazy then, that I also don’t really like to sleep in very late. It’s less about the time, and more about the pace. If I can snooze and drift in and out of sleep for awhile and languish in bed until I’m restless, I don’t mind getting up early. On days that I am not at work, like weekends or vacations (like this week) I feel a nagging sense of “wasting the day” if I am in bed past 8:30 or 9 o’clock. Gone are the days where sleeping until 11 was a normal weekend occurrence. I must be getting older.

I find on days like today, when there is nowhere that I need to be, and I know that everyone else in the house is either off to work or school or will sleep later than me, that the mornings can be a very lovely time of day. The term “me time” gets tossed around a lot but we all need it; time to recharge our batteries, think without being interrupted and move at our own pace. This particular morning I awoke at 4:23 am due to horrendous sinus congestion. After getting up and dealing with that, I went back to bed, checked my email, jumped on Twitter and realized that I was surprisingly awake for such an unreasonable hour.

Since going back to sleep all stuffed up seemed impossible and I was almost feeling, dare I say, chipper, I slipped away from the bedroom, cats in tow, and put on the kettle and soon had the French press brewing. (If I have nowhere to be, I can often postpone the shower and skip straight to the coffee with no ill affects.) Sitting on the couch with coffee, my leg being deftly massaged by a small cat I decided that baking up something for breakfast would be nice. In step with the unseasonably cold and drab weather that we have returned to, I thought of pumpkin loaf. Once my cup of coffee was done and the cat had grown bored of me, I set off back to the kitchen and found the requisite can of pumpkin puree, but alas … no eggs.  Now, had this been 10 am, 2 pm, 7 pm, etc. I might have tinkered and tweaked a pumpkin loaf to not include eggs, but since it was only quarter past 5 at that point, I abandoned the pumpkin and turned to an old standby: Vegan Chocolate Cake from The Joy of Cooking.

This cake, which I often make as cupcakes, is simply delicious. It is very quick and easy to make, is not too sweet and is always a hit. Don’t be thrown off by the coffee in the cake or glaze, it does not give you the mocha-like effect you might expect it to. Instead it enhances and deepens the chocolate flavour, and a deep, dark chocolate flavour is what you want from chocolate cake, especially if it’s for breakfast.

Mini Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Glaze

adapted from The Joy of Cooking 1997 edition

preheat the oven to 350°

Swapping out butter and milk in baking is usually a simple accommodation if you are attempting a vegan recipe. Eggs can be a bit trickier if you are unfamiliar with substitutions. These cupcakes are vegan and therefore they are egg-less but they get their lift from baking soda and vinegar. If you don’t have balsamic on hand, white vinegar will do just fine, balsamic just adds a nice depth of flavour. I have made this recipe many times with great success with some or all of  the oil replaced by applesauce, making them low fat or fat-free. 

Grease or line 24 mini muffin tins (or regular sized 12 muffin tin) (or a 9″ round cake pan)

In a large bowl, combine the following dry ingredients, whisking well:

1 1/2 C flour

3/4 C light brown sugar

6 tablespoons cocoa

1 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

In a second bowl, mix the following wet ingredients:

1/2 C cold coffee

1/2 C cold water

1/4 C vegetable oil

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp vanilla

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, all at once, stirring well to combine. Scoop into muffin tin. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then pop the cupcakes out and let them cool completely on the wrack.

For the glaze:

Stir together

1/2 C icing sugar

2 Tbsp cocoa

2 Tbsp cold water

3 Tbsp cold coffee

Mix well until a smooth, glossy glaze is achieved. Dip the tops of the fully cooled cupcakes in the glaze, allowing excess to drip off. The glaze will firm up as it dries. If you are adding sprinkles, non pareils, etc., do so immediately after dipping to ensure they stick. Store the cupcakes, once fully cooled in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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