This or That … Chocolate(vegan) Cupcakes

This is a face I am certain about. This Mira, I know, it’s an easy decision. I don’t waver. It’s never, “Should I love this dog or not?” It probably has something to do with those ridiculous eyes.

With most everything else in life I am a very indecisive person. I sit on the fence a lot. Doesn’t that sound painful? Who even came up with that phrase? I want to be more decisive just so I don’t have a fence up my butt.

Anyway.

I like to have things both ways, because most of the time I can’t decide which way is best, tastiest, most advantageous. For instance, would I want to make my home in the city or the country?

Right now my home is in the city. I’m 10-15 minutes from great restaurants, a grocery, the cleaners, parks and museums, the highway … When I say I’m going to run to the store, I mean I will be there and back within twenty minutes if I know exactly what I want (which, let’s be honest, rarely happens). I can ride my bike to the farmers market.

IMG_1594

I love living in a neighborhood. It’s got character. I smile at people as I walk the dog along the tree-lined sidewalk. We gossip about the yard work the couple up the street is doing, and we curse the damn lady who walks her dog without a leash.

At the same time, I crave long and quiet roads, houses with huge yards, big inky black night skies filled with endless stars. I think this side of me stems from camp in the mountains tucked away in a stoplight-less town of Tuxedo. I want to sit in my house with the windows open and not hear cars drive by. I want to not have to close my curtains at night to block out the street lights.

Biking north of the city with friends.

This or that?

I’d like to be a vegetarian, to make that commitment, that decision. I don’t love meat (besides bacon, oh dear God), and I am sure OK with eating lots of vegetarian foods, such as tofu, beans, lentils, and vegetables. I just can’t make the decision. Because what if it’s wrong? What if one day I want a burger? What if one day I want to run to the grocery five minutes away to get a pound of chicken salad? (I may or may not have done that this weekend.) So I go back and forth. I rarely cook meat in the house. Chicken or fish, the occasional beef. I only buy meat when I know how and where it’s been raised. Then I feel better about eating it. Always in moderation. Does that make me a semi-vegetarian?

This or that?

If making decisions was as easy as eating these chocolate(vegan) cupcakes, then I’d have bought a house somewhere totes rad and would be a super vegetarian.

Yeah, they’re vegan. That means no eggs, no butter, no  milk. That means in my mind kinda healthier. That means in my mind that I am being a vegan for the two minutes it takes me to eat one of these. So I feel good. Like I’ve made a good decision.

Now, don’t expect these cupcakes to taste like regular chocolate cupcakes. They don’t quite. The texture is all around different, and that’s not a bad thing. They’ll stay tasty and edible for a week before they start to dry out/get weird. And they have a secret ingredient in them—avocado! I’ve made them a couple of times for audiences of mixed varieties, and everyone has enjoyed them.

My advice? Make the decision to make these for the vegan in your life who can commit to a lifestyle, the on-the-fencer who wishes she could commit to a meatless life, and the lover of all things non-alternative who you think should branch out. They’ll all love these cupcakes.

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Vegan Chocolate Frosting
from the Joy the Baker Cookbook
makes 12 cupcakes, or double recipe for one 2-layer cake

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup mashed ripe avocado
1 cup water
1tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:
3/4 cup vegan butter (i.e. Earth Balance)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 teaspoons almond milk

Place the rack in the upper third of the oven, and preheat oven to 350° F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Make cupcakes! In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, avocado, water vinegar, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients (flour mixture), and fold together with a spatula, or whisk to ensure total mixing.

Using a liquid measuring cup or a ladle , pour batter into prepared cupcake liners until almost full. Put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

While the cupcakes bake, make the frosting. Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft. Stop the mixer and add the cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Turn the mixer on low and carefully combine. Add the vanilla and almond milk. Increase the mixer speed to medium or medium-high, and beat until the frosting is fluffy.

Frost the cupcakes only after they’ve cooled completely on a wire rack. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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