March 18, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes

So, a funny thing happened over the weekend... I turned thirty. And, as "milestone" birthdays sometimes do, this particular birthday has spurred many moments of life evaluation, grieving, and general emotional despair. Let's just say the last month has been challenging, and move on to tastier and more uplifting subjects. Let's talk about cupcakes.

Is there anything more cheerful than a Funfetti cupcake? I don't think so. There's a reason Funfetti is the unofficial-official cake of birthdays - it's damn difficult to bum out about turning another year older when there's a rainbow of edible confetti bits in each and every bite of cupcake goodness. It's that inescapable cheerfulness that makes me return, year after year, to the loving, perky embrace of Funfetti cake. 

This year I abandoned my trusty box mix and made homemade Funfetti cupcakes. Why haven't I done this before? Old habits die hard, I suppose. But it turns out that making your own Funfetti cake is embarrassingly easy. Here's the breakdown:

1. Make your favorite vanilla cake batter.
2. Fold in a few tablespoons of multi-colored sprinkles.
3. Bake.

See? One little jar of sprinkles is all that stands between you and the happiest birthday cake in all the land. The vanilla cake recipe I used is adapted from the Golden Vanilla Cupcake recipe in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. A couple tablespoons of coconut oil add a round richness and intense moisture to the cupcakes without making them taste "coconut-y" (we don't want to steal the sprinkles' thunder). The best sprinkles to use for Funfetti cake are "jimmies" - thin, elongated sprinkles - which melt easily into happy little rainbow dots once in the oven. My guess is you could try nonpareils or small shaped sprinkles (stars, discs, etc) as well, though I've not tested that theory myself - if you give another sprinkle variety a try, let me know how they worked in the comments!

Chocolate Stout & Funfetti Cupcakes (recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

Homemade Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes

For 100% vegan sprinkles, be sure to check the label for "confectioner's glaze", an animal by-product that many vegans avoid. Some stores (like Kroger/QFC) happen to have vegan sprinkles, but if your local store doesn't, you can find vegan sprinkles at an online vegan grocer like Pangea.

1 cup plain nondairy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil (2 heaping tablespoons coconut oil, melted, plus neutral oil to total 1/3 cup)*
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 heaping tablespoons vegan multi-colored sprinkles ("jimmies")

*To combine the oils: Melt 2 heaping tablespoons of coconut oil briefly in a microwave, then pour into a liquid measuring cup. Pour neutral oil (like sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, or rice bran) into the measuring cup until you have a total of 1/3 cup oil (you'll add about 3 tablespoons neural oil).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep a muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together the milk and vinegar and set aside to sour. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined, then set aside. In a larger bowl, whisk together the oils, sugar, vanilla and soured milk until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until the batter is mostly lump-free. Add the sprinkles and stir briefly to incorporate.

Divide the batter between the 12 cupcake liners (they'll be about two-thirds of the way full) and place muffin tin in oven. Bake cupcakes for 20-22 minutes, until the center springs back when gently touched. Transfer cupcakes to a wire cooling rack, allowing them to cool completely before frosting and decorating.

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