I meant to post this recipe a few days ago, right after my visit with VegNews. Unfortunately, I got a 24-hour flu-type illness and was wiped out for a few days, and I couldn’t look at my computer screen for very long or even think about food (can you believe it? I couldn’t think about baking? Clearly, something was very wrong with me!). But never fear, I’m back on the health-track, and able to post this amazing dark chocolate recipe for you now. Sorry for the delay!
So, to get on with it, on Thursday, I had lunch with the VegNews staff, and I made them White Chocolate Champagne Cupcakes and these Rich Chocolate Almond Cupcakes. I know bringing two kinds of decadent and fancy flavored desserts was a little excessive, but I get so much pleasure from the process of baking and creating art through food, and I enjoy watching others get pleasure out of eating my creations, that really it was quite self-serving to bring them both sets of cupcakes. And I ate quite a lot of them myself throughout the process. On Friday I was jittery the whole day from so much sugar, and of course I decided to make ice cream to take to a friend’s house for dinner, so with all that added sweetness I was downright hyper and even shaky – and I realized that I’m going to have to figure out a way to limit my own dessert consumption from now on (or maybe my body decided for me, by getting sick on Saturday night??). But, I sure do love baking. And imagining beautiful cupcakes!
This one was quite a feat for the taste buds. It has a moist and fluffy Chocolate Almond Cake base, flecked with almond meal that gives the airy cake just a little bit of extra texture, then covered with a thin layer of Almond Marzipan, and finally topped with a heavy swirl of Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. And, I couldn’t resist plopping a Dark Chocolate Decoration into the top of each swirl, for extra flair. So simply put, I present to you perhaps the most rich and decadent cupcake I have made yet. I hope you find a real chocolate lover, and that they enjoy this recipe to the max!
Note: This makes a double recipe (24 regular sized cupcakes)
2 cups almond milk
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup almond meal
4 Tblsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 tsp. almond extract
16 oz. Almond Marzipan, rolled evenly 1//8 inch thick, and cut into 24 circles the size of a cupcake-top (I used the rim of a wine glass)
Rich Chocolate Almond Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2-3/4 cup cocoa powder, to taste
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup almond milk
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line 2 muffin pans with cupcake liners.
Whisk the almond milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside a few minutes to get good and curdled.
Beat together the almond milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, almond meal, cocoa, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix only until no large lumps remain.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full, and bake for 20-24 minutes till done (you can stick a toothpick in the center and it should come out clean). Leave in muffin tins for 3-5 minutes after taking out of the oven, so the cakes can set, and then take out of the tins and place on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting. If you are planning to top the cupcakes with Marzipan, you would place the marzipan layer on top of each cupcake just after you take the cake out of the baking pan – you want to do it while the cakes are still slightly warm so that the marzipan can melt slightly onto it and stick.For the frosting, cream together the shortening and margarine until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and cocoa powder, alternating with almond milk, and beat for about 3 more minutes. Add the extracts and beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy. This is a very thick and heavy frosting; If you want it to be a bit lighter, try adding a bit more almond milk, in 1/2 teaspoon increments. Pipe or spread on top of the marzipan layer (or plain cupcakes). Top with a Dark Chocolate Decoration (recipe below).To make the Dark Chocolate Decorations, finely chop a bar of your favorite chocolate. Place these pieces into the top section of a double boiler, and heat on the stove over a high flame. When the water is boiling, turn the burner off. Stir chocolate gently until it is completely melted and smooth. Have a piece of parchment or waxed paper prepared, sitting on top of a flat cookie sheet. Using a spoon, drizzle your melted chocolate over the paper in different directions, making sure to criss-cross your lines so that the chocolate will stick together*. It is okay to have different sized lines or globs even, and drips are fine too. This is not time to be a perfectionist! When you’ve exhausted your chocolate supply, stick your pan into the fridge for a few hours until chocolate is completely hardened. Take it out, peel away from the paper, and break into smaller pieces that you can decorate cupcakes or cakes with. These can be stored in your refrigerator in a tightly covered container for a few weeks, or re-melted down to create other shapes or serve other baking needs.
*If you are really brave, and up for a challenge, you can spoon your melted chocolate into a plastic ziploc bag and cut a tiny hole out of one of the bottom corners. Use this to pipe designs or patterns onto your paper so you end up with the exact shapes you want. This can be very elegant.