I got a few different vegan cookbooks for Christmas based on blogs that I am in love with, including Minimalist Baker and Oh She Glows. I made the switch to pescatarian about 2 and a half years ago now, and I have gradually been attempting to cut out fish as well. I decided that the new year would be a good time to start experimenting with vegan cooking and baking a little bit. I really love the idea of being vegan for both health and ethical reasons, but I live for baking (and cheese) so it presents a big challenge for me. I am a big believer in just going for it when you bake. You don’t have to eat nothing but dessert (although I have been known to do that), but I think that if you are going to bake then use real sugar and butter and all of that good stuff. Vegan baking is very daunting to me for that reason so I have decided to start playing around with it and see where it goes.
I started out easy with carrot cupcakes. The hardest part of this recipe turned out to be the frosting. The cupcakes were easy because I just used a mashed banana, applesauce and coconut oil in place of eggs and butter in the batter. These are substitutions that I have made before in baking so it was an easy first attempt at creating a vegan dessert. The frosting was a little bit more challenging because what is a cupcake without buttercream? I ended up using a combination of coconut cream and vegan cream cheese. I was pretty skeptical of the vegan cream cheese, but it turned out just right. It’s not amazing by itself, but when you combine it with powdered sugar and coconut cream, you’ve got a delicious, creamy vegan frosting!
The hardest part with the frosting was getting it to the right consistency. I had to add more sugar than I wanted to in order to have it thicken enough, but the cupcake itself was not very sweet so they balanced each other really well. I made these to bring to work tomorrow, but I had chocolate chip cookies as a contingency plan in case these went horribly wrong. No need for cookies though because they turned out delicious! If I didn’t tell people that these are vegan cupcakes, they wouldn’t even know!
Vegan Carrot Cupcakes
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 large banana, mashed
1 1/4 cup applesauce (I used slightly sweet applesauce, but unsweetened would be preferable)
1 cup packed, shredded carrot (about 4 large carrots)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and prepare two muffin tins with cupcake papers.
Combine the dry ingredients (flour through cardamom) in a bowl with a whisk and set aside.
Beat together the sugar, coconut oil and mashed banana until smooth.
Add the applesauce, carrot and vanilla, mixing until combined.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, mixing until combined.
Fold in the rolled oats.
Fill each cupcake paper 3/4 of the way full with batter.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool completely before frosting.
Vegan Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
1 14 oz. can coconut cream or milk
4 oz. vegan cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Refrigerate the can of coconut cream overnight until it separates and solidifies. The cream will solidify on top. Scoop out only the solid cream and discard the water at the bottom of the can.
Combine the cold coconut cream, vegan cream cheese and vanilla with a mixer until smooth.
Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, beating until smooth. Add more icing sugar as needed to adjust the consistency.
Use an icing bag to pipe frosting on top of cupcakes. Drizzle with 5 minute magic vegan caramel sauce from Pinch of Yum (see recipe here).