Belated Valentine’s Day Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
I feel just as bitter on Valentine’s Day as the next demoralized romantic. Pink carnations, chocolate boxes, and Groupon deals for Match.com memberships only bring to mind the bleak dating world that I prefer to forget. But my palate escapes the infectious bitterness of February 14th. Everyone—single, taken, hopeless, hopeful, carnivore, vegan—deserves something sweet.
How about a red velvet cupcake? These festive ‘cakes are crowd-pleasers that tip their hats to the American South all the way from New York’s frigid capital region. Any amateur pâtissier can whip up a batch—don’t let three “from-scratch” components intimidate you. And besides, baking for others is an act of love, so the only corner we’re cutting is that of the ziplock frosting bag. This vivid vegan cake, moist with chocolate undertones, buried under dense dairy-free cream cheese frosting and crunchy hazelnut brittle might just transport you back to the 2nd grade, when receiving a stockpile of Valentines was guaranteed. When you believed in love. If celebrating St. Valentine still isn’t your thing, simply omit red dye.
- For a truly vegan dessert, use organic sugar
- If you don’t have a sifter, I will lend you mine, but please sift!
- Use any nut you like for the brittle (pecans would be traditional), or omit entirely
- Recipe is adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or other mild vinegar)
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (preferably unbleached)
1 cup organic granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Cream cheese frosting ingredients:
¼ cup Earth Balance (or other nonhydrogenated margarine)
¼ cup non-dairy cream cheese (such as Tofutti)
2 cups organic confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-4 drops red food coloring
Hazelnut brittle ingredients:
1 cup raw hazelnuts
3 tablespoons organic granulated sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
To make cupcakes, preheat oven to 350°F and fill cupcake pan (regular- or mini-sized) with liners. Whisk vinegar with non-dairy milk and set aside to let curdle. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk vinegar and milk mixture with oil, food coloring, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring gently until batter is relatively smooth. Fill cupcake liners two-thirds full and bake 18 to 20 minutes for regular-sized cupcakes, or 9 to 11 minutes for miniature cupcakes (check doneness with ye olde toothpick). Cool cupcakes in pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
To make cream cheese frosting, use an electric handheld mixer (or, if you’re desperate, a fork and brawny arm) to cream together margarine and cream cheese. In ½ cup increments, add confectioners’ sugar and whip until smooth. Mix in vanilla and red food coloring until desired pinkness is achieved. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make hazelnut brittle, toast hazelnuts in a saucepan over medium-low heat until fragrant and golden (careful to avoid burning). Transfer to a plate to cool. Grease a sheet of parchment paper to have at the ready. In a cold skillet, add sugar, maple syrup, and salt, then turn heat to medium. Using a wooden spoon, stir 7 to 9 minutes, until mixture is thick and caramel-colored (it will bubble—don’t fret). Remove pan from heat, add hazelnuts, and stir to coat. Spread hazelnuts on greased parchment. When nuts have cooled, chop brittle into small pieces. It’s yummy. Try not to eat all of the garnish before it gets to the cupcakes.
To assemble cupcakes, fill a ziplock bag (or pastry bag if you’re fancy) with frosting and snip off a corner. Pipe swirls, roses, or blobs atop each cupcake, garnish with brittle, and delight in your domesticity. Share with friends and lovers. Or pop in your favorite Valentine’s Day flick (the jovial Silence of the Lambs seemsan appropriate complement to a vegan treat, right?) and devour the batch yourself.