Fran Costigan’s vegan black bottom cupcakes are, like all her sweet treats, lovingly crafted, and tested and retested, to yield the best results. It’s not for nothing that Fran has been crowned “The Queen of Vegan Desserts.”
Fran is a true trailblazer in the realm of vegan dessert-making and chocolate. She was ahead of time in the vegan world in general, having committed to this way of life long before it became cool to do so. To learn more about her journey as well as what she’s up to these days, read our Q & A with Fran Costigan. And now, let’s hear from Fran:
“The following easy vegan version of the beloved retro recipe for Black Bottom Cupcakes is from Vegan Chocolate. It is irresistible!
Fran’s Rules: Before you begin, read the recipe all the way through. Position the oven rack, and preheat the oven. Prepare your mise en place, both equipment and ingredients. This sounds like a lot of work? Nope, it’s fast and organized and makes baking and eating a pleasure. Adjust the amount of filling for smaller cupcakes.”
Recipe is from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, © 2013 by Fran Costigan (Running Press). Photos by Kate Lewis ©2013. Reprinted by permission.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (3 grams) ground chia seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (22.5 ml) water
- 8 ounces (227 grams) nondairy cream cheese spread, straight from the refrigerator
- 9 tablespoons (56 grams) organic confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 2 ounces (85 grams) chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
- 1 cup (129 grams) organic all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (70 grams) organic whole wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 cup (159 grams) organic granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (25 grams) natural cocoa powder. non-alkalized (see Note)
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup (240 ml) nondairy milk, any variety
- 6 tablespoons (90 ml) mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or organic neutral vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) chocolate extract optional
- For the filling: Mix the chia and water and set aside for a couple of minutes. Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined. Repeat twice, 5 minutes apart. The chia gel can be made a day ahead and refrigerated in a covered container. Mix before using.
- Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add the chia gel and mix on medium for another 30 seconds until incorporated. Stir the chocolate chips into the filling. Refrigerate in a covered container while you make the cupcakes.
- For the cupcakes: Position a rack on the rung just above the center of the oven and preheat to 350° F (180° C). Lightly oil the top only of a 12-cup cupcake tin to make any bake-overs easier to clean, and line with paper liners that are slightly higher than the cups.
- Put a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, granulated sugar, whole cane sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt to the strainer. Stir with whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl and whisk to aerate. (If any very small bits remain in the strainer, add them to the mixture in the bowl.) Whisk to aerate the mixture.
- In a separate small bowl, mix the nondairy milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and chocolate extract (if using) until thoroughly mixed. Immediately pour into the dry ingredients. Whisk hard until the batter is smooth.
- Fill the cups close to three-quarters full with batter. Spoon or scoop about 3 tablespoons of the filling—but not more—into the center of each cake. The cups will be filled almost to the top. That’s okay. You may not have even amounts of the batter.
- Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, or until the edges of the cakes are firm when lightly tapped and the filling is set. Set the tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes. The filling will collapse into the cakes while they cool. Remove the cupcakes from the tin, and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
- For serving: I like to serve the cupcakes slightly chilled for the best flavor, but some of my testers liked the cakes best at room temperature. You’ll just have to make two batches and try them each way to decide!
- Keeping: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three day. These cupcakes can be frozen and defrosted.
If you can’t find natural cocoa, use a raw cocoa that’s non-alkalized.
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Fran Costigan, culinary instructor, cookbook author, pastry chef, consultant, and the director of Vegan Pastry at Rouxbe cooking school, is internationally renowned as the authority on vegan desserts.
Professionally trained, Fran was a chef in both traditional and vegan pastry kitchens before moving into teaching over 25 years ago. Her unapologetically luscious confections lack nothing — except dairy, eggs, white sugar, and cholesterol.
A professional member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, Les Dames d’Escoffier, and the Association of Food Journalists. Visit Fran on the web at FranCostigan.com.
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