Vegan Cupcakes

I am not a vegan. I’ve dabbled in a strictly plant-based diet now and then, because it makes it makes me feel good. But on a permanent basis, it’s just not going to happen. I like butter way too much. And eggs. And milk. Oh yeah, and cheese too. Being a vegan would also eliminate my top three super-fast dinners that I make when the cupboards are bare and the grocery budget is depleted (pancakes, omelets, and quesadillas.)

That said, sometimes you are in need of a good vegan dessert recipe. I’ve tried quite a few, and I don’t often find the results very tasty. Most depend on an excessive amount of baking powder for lift, which results in an off-flavor and unpleasant texture. I stumbled across this recipe on, and I have to say, I am impressed. It’s not going to be the best vanilla cupcake you’ve ever eaten (it’s hard to beat a cupcake made with real butter, and topped with buttercream), BUT upon tasting this little cupcake, you would not guess that it is vegan.

The recipe’s creator cleverly substitutes coconut oil for butter, and then makes an impromptu ‘buttermilk’ from vinegar and soymilk. The ‘buttermilk’ reacts with the baking soda to provide lift, without having to use a crazy amount. The frosting I came up with on my own, and is something I would use again on brownies or non-vegan cupcakes. Note, the original recipe mentioned that this does not rise well as a cake, and that you can experiment with different nut milks or oils. I used soymilk, because it is creamy and we had it on hand. I would also make this with hemp or coconut milk.

We were invited to have dinner at our neighbor’s house, and their son cannot eat any dairy or eggs. I offered to bring a vegan dessert, and they kindly accepted. Jen told me that her son was hoping I’d bring birthday cake (as this is something he almost never gets to enjoy at parties), so he was over the moon when I showed up with cupcakes. Yes!

Vegan Cupcakes
By cornfairy at
Makes about 18 regular-sized cupcakes

1 T apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups soy or almond milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, warmed until liquid
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1) Add vinegar to soymilk and let stand for about five minutes, until slightly curdled.

2) In another bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Separately, whisk together curdled soymilk, coconut oil, and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour and sugar, and stir until just combined.

3) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tins with cupcake papers, and fill each cup about 3/4 of the way full. Cook about 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set tins on a wire rack, and when completely cooled, frost.

Chocolate Orange Frosting
double if you really like to load on the frosting (or like to eat it by the spoonful)

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3 T Earth Balance vegan butter
2 T cocoa powder
juice of one orange
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat all ingredients until smooth and fluffy. Add more juice or sugar to adjust thickness. Frosting should be thick and spreadable.