Chief creative office for America’s Test Kitchen, Jack Bishop, teaches us how to make vegan dark chocolate cupcakes.
Making Dark Chocolate Cupcakes (p. 282) and 1/2 recipe Creamy Chocolate Frosting (p. 285)
Table Set Up
Bowl with flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt already whisked together
Individual bowls with water, cocoa, chocolate, oil, and vanilla
Twin with microwaved chocolate mixture, already cooled
Can of chickpeas (unopened); measuring cup with 1/4 cup aquafaba from another can of chickpeas
Bowl with whipped aquafaba (already whipped)
Fold aquafaba into chocolate mixture, then fold in flour
Twin of baked, cooled cupcakes
Refrigerated cans of coconut milk; spoon off the cream from cans and add to bowl
Add chocolate chips and salt
Twin of finished frosting
Frost cupcakes with small icing spatulas (2) and enjoy
Medium glass bowl with 5 dry ingredients already combined
5 small glass bowls for water, cocoa, chocolate, coconut oil, and vanilla
Large glass bowl for making cupcake batter
Twin with microwaved and cooled chocolate mixture
Medium glass bowl with whipped aquafaba
Spoon for removing cream from cans of chilled coconut milk
Bowl for microwaving frosting ingredients
2 small bowls for chocolate chips and salt
Twin of microwaved, chilled, and whipped frosting
2 small offset icing spatulas
Key Talking Points
-Bloom cocoa power, bittersweet chocolate, and water in microwave for big chocolate flavor
-Ounce for ounce, cocoa powder is the key to big chocolate flavor in many baked goods—it adds intensity and punch; the bittersweet chocolate adds some fruity flavor and finesse
-We prefer Dutch-processed (European style) cocoa powder because it has richer, rounder flavor
-Instead of eggs, whipped aquafaba (stabilized with cream of tartar) produces light, fluffy crumb
-Simply drain off liquid from can of chickpeas (reserve chickpeas for another use), then whip with electric mixer until stiff foam forms
-Aquafaba (Latin for” bean water” reversed) is crowd sourced name (has its own url)
-Aquafaba from every brand of chickpeas we tested works; other than Progresso
-Add pinch of cream of tartar (same thing you add to egg whites when whipping them to making angel food cake)
-Cream of tartar is an acid and alters structure of proteins and starches so the chickpea liquid whips up more quickly and is more stable
-Frosting without butter or cream cheese or whipped cream? Sounds awful. But this is amazing.
-Use cream at the top of cans of coconut milk
-Refrigerate cans for 24 hours to help separate out cream
-With cream separate from coconut milk, we’re making ganache; heating “cream” and chocolate, with pinch of salt; chill, then whip until fluffy
-Check to make sure chips you’re buying are vegan (some brands contain milk fat). Among vegan options, we like Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet.
-And don’t use bar chocolate in frosting; chips contain emulsifiers which stabilize the melted chocolate mixture (otherwise it can break).
Creamy Chocolate Frosting
Why This Recipe Works
For a rich, billowy multipurpose chocolate frosting, we melted semisweet chocolate and whisked in coconut milk. Once cooled, we whipped the ganache-like mixture into a mousse-y frosting. The frosting tasted downright decadent, but it looked broken. Using chocolate chips instead of bar chocolate was our fix. Chocolate chips contain emulsifying agents, which stabilized the mixture so it didn’t break. Not all semisweet chocolate chips are vegan, so check ingredient lists carefully. Halve this recipe to frost 12 cupcakes. (Use two cans of coconut milk to obtain the 3/4 cup cream.) Mixing times won’t change. Note that this frosting is made over 2 days.
Makes 4 cups
3 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
3? cups (1 1/4 pounds) semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Refrigerate unopened cans of coconut milk for at least 24 hours to ensure that 2 distinct layers form. Skim cream layer from each can and measure out 1 1/2 cups cream (save any extra cream for another use and discard milky liquid).
2 Microwave coconut cream, chocolate chips, and salt in bowl at 50 percent power, whisking occasionally, until melted and smooth, 2 to 4 minutes; transfer to bowl of stand mixer. Place plastic wrap directly against surface of chocolate mixture and refrigerate until cooled completely and texture resembles firm cream cheese, about 3 hours, stirring halfway through chilling. (If mixture has chilled for longer and is very stiff, let stand at room temperature to soften but still cool.) Using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip at high speed until fluffy, mousse-like soft peaks form, 2 to 4 minutes, scraping down bowl halfway through whipping.