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Recipe of the Month: Black Bottom Cupcakes

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May 1, 2014

by Fran Costigan, author of Vegan Chocolate and Portland VegFest 2014 presenter

The resulting bites of heaven fairly beg for a glass of ice-cold nondairy milk or a freshly made espresso (the latter is my choice).

Filling Ingredients:
1 1/2 teaspoons ground chia seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons warm water
8 ounces nondairy cream cheese spread, very cold
9 tablespoons organic confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 ounces chocolate chips

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/2 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup organic granulated sugar
1/4 cup organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon natural cocoa powder (non-alkalized)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup any nondairy milk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or organic neutral vegetable oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)

Note: Keep the “cream cheese” in the refrigerator until ready to use, but do not freeze it. When making the regular-sized cupcakes, the tins will be almost completely full. If you are making mini cupcakes, go for a maximum of two-thirds full and no more than 2 teaspoons of filling each.

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.

The Cupcakes
Position a rack on the rung just above the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. 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 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. 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.

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!

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.

Makes 12 Standard-Size Cupcakes or 24 Minis

Recipes reprinted with permission from VEGAN CHOCOLATE © 2013 by Fran Costigan, Running Press
Photo of Fran by ©Linda Long
Photo of cupcakes by ©Kate Lewis

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