Chocolate cupcakes – pssssst! they’re vegan!

Chocolste cupcake

I have two absolutely wonderful godchildren and I love to cook and bake for them. Unfortunately, one of them is deathly allergic to eggs. On top of this, his family keeps Kosher, so I am always challenged to come up with wonderful desserts that are safe for him and taste and look wonderful to everyone else – including adults. After a lot of searching, I was fortunate to come across The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book by Kelly Rudnicki and available at Amazon. I always tweak the recipes because I am incapable of not doing that; however, if you just follow them exactly they will come out fine.

Tonight the children are coming to sleep-over and give their parents some well-deserved alone time. My goddaughter gave me her desired menu and it includes pizza that my husband makes with the children and chocolate cupcakes. In the interest of time – and knowing the attention span of 5 and 6 year-olds – I baked the cupcakes this morning and we will make the frosting and decorate them together when they arrive. This same recipe can be used to make two 8-inch round cakes for layer cake. You will be amazed at how super-moist and chocolaty these are.

Chocolate Cupcakes and Frosting – Adapted from The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book by Kelly Rudnicki

Yields: 18 cupcakes or two 8-inch round cakes for layer cake


1/2 cup dairy-free shortening (I like Earth Balance brand . And of course, if you don’t care about being Vegan or keeping Kosher, feel free to use real unsalted butter.)

1.5 cups dairy-free “buttermilk” (I use Vanilla Soy that I have added about 1.5 Tablespoons of distilled vinegar to. You let it sit for at least 5-10 minutes and voila! you have a good buttermilk substitute for any recipe. If you prefer to use rice or almond milk it likely will work – I just never have done it.)

2 Tablespoons strong coffee (Don’t worry about the caffeine — the difference in how great the chocolate tastes is essential. Instant espresso works if you don’t make or have your own brewed coffee on hand.)

1 Teaspoon real vanilla extract

2 cups cake flour (I happen to like King Arthur unbleached cake flour but you can use other brands)

1.5 cups granulated sugar (I always store my sugar in a big glass jar with a couple of vanilla beans tucked inside.)

2/3 cup good-quality, unsweetened cocoa powder (I like to use Rodelle which I buy through Amazon)

1.5 Teaspoons baking soda

1/2 Teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 18 cupcake (muffin tins) with paper liners. (If making the cakes, spray two pans with a non-dairy spray like Pam and then line the bottoms with a round of parchment or waxed paper. Spray the bottom again and set aside.)
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the shortening, “buttermilk”, coffee and vanilla and beat until thoroughly mixed. Unless your shortening is quite soft, it won’t totally mix, but don’t worry – it all will work out.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and with a whisk mix them thoroughly to distribute the ingredients.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture with the machine on low. Once mostly blended, turn the machine to high and beat for 4 minutes, scraping the sides occasionally.
  5. Using a scoop or small measuring cup, fill the paper cupcake liners evenly and bake for 20 – 25 minutes (mine took 23 minutes but all ovens are different) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then carefully place the cupcakes on wire racks to finish cooling. Cool completely before frosting. IMAG0479

Chocolate Frosting – Yields 2 cups


1 cup dairy-free shortening (I use Earth Balance “butter” flavored)

1/2 cup good quality, unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup of dairy-free “milk” (I use vanilla soy and substitute about 1 Tablespoon with strong coffee to really bring up the chocolate flavor and to cut any cloying sweetness.)

1 Teaspoon real vanilla extract

1/8 Teaspoon salt

2 cups confectioners’ sugar


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the shortening and cocoa powder until smooth. Add the soy milk/coffee, vanilla and salt and mix thoroughly. SLOWLY add in the confectioners’ sugar, mixing on low for 1 minute until all of the confectioners’ sugar has been mixed with the shortening. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 6 minutes until very light and fluffy. This will keep in the fridge overnight, but you will have to let it soften a bit before spreading.

Vanilla Frosting – Yields 2 cups

Make exactly as you would the chocolate frosting but leave out the cocoa powder and coffee. Add the zest of one large lemon. A few drops of vegetable-based food coloring can be added to this frosting to make it any color you would like.

For strawberry frosting, just add a few sliced up strawberries before the final whipping.