Strawberry Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with “Buttercream” Frosting

Oh my gosh. Who said being vegan was healthy all the time? If it wasn’t for my wonderful friend’s birthday I may have never come up with these. Last February I made chocolate strawberry shortcake cupcakes (before this blog existed) and my friend loved them. Since I invited her to dinner at my apartment for her birthday, I asked what she would like me to make and she asked for those cupcakes again. Now, I couldn’t just make the same old cupcakes and call it a day. Especially on a birthday! So as usual, I poked around my cookbooks and various googled recipes for inspiration. What I came up with were a different spin on the Valentine’s Day cupcakes. Now I must warn you, these are not in the “easy” category. But definitely worth the effort if you have the time and if you’re making them for someone special (or just yourself on a Friday night – no judgement, I’ve so been there!)

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For the cake I borrowed from one of my favorite cookbooks. I mean, if Chloe can win Cupcake Wars as a vegan, who am I to change up her chocolate cake recipe? I know when to let the pros take over.

What you’ll need for the cake: 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

What you’ll need for strawberry filling:  (I actually made double this amount and then had a ton leftover – it’s now in my freezer until I can come up with something else to do with it)

  • 1 cup diced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 TBS tapioca flour (you could also use corn starch if you don’t have tapioca flour on hand – just need something to thicken the sauce)

What you’ll need for Vanilla “Buttercream” Frosting: 

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter, softened – I’m a huge fan of Earth Balance
  • 1/8 cup almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 whole vanilla bean (I ran out of extract and went with the real deal. You could probably use about a tsp of extract and get the same result – but with the bean I get actual vanilla flecks in the frosting, which I thought was pretty neat.)

Since you have to wait for everything to cool before assembling, I suggest starting with the cakes themselves. Preheat your oven to 350 and line 12 cupcake tins with cupcake foils. Add all your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl – flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt. In a separate bowl add all your wet ingredients – water, oil, vanilla and cider. Then pour your wet into the dry and whisk until no more lumps remain.

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Fill the cupcake tins about 3/4 of the way with batter and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (If you’re like me and don’t have toothpicks around – a fork will do just fine)

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While the cupcakes are baking, start on the strawberry filling. In a sauce pan on medium heat, cook the strawberries until they start to become broken down a bit and resemble a sauce. At that point, add your sugar and flour and mix everything together. Remove from heat and let cool.

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While your cupcakes and filling are cooling, it’s a good time to make the frosting. Because I have a tiny kitchen and am already bursting out of the cupboards I do have – I have found I can make frosting in the kitchen ninja. I’m telling you, this thing is super versatile! If you have a normal size kitchen with actual appliances – a hand beater or mixer would be even better. Toss all the ingredients together and beat (or ninja) until everything is mixed and smooth.

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When everything is cooled, you’re ready to start assembling. I found this handy dandy apple corer at the hardware store for like 6 bucks, and it did an amazing job. I’m sure that you could also use a paring knife  and scoop out a bit of the cake in the middle.

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Fill the holes with strawberry filling and the frosting will cover up the escaping strawberry.

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And there you have it – special occasion cupcakes that will fool anyone who thinks great desserts can only be made with milk and eggs!

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