Vegan Fresh: Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

Mexican chocolate cupcakes with cinnamon frosting (photos by Michelle Saunders)

D Magazine intern Michelle Saunders usually brings you healthy food recipes (like this quinoa salad), but she wants you to know that these cupcakes are an exception. She writes: “I believe that an occasional cupcake can do as much good for the body as a salad and certainly more good for the soul.”

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo this past weekend, I thought it only proper to make a Mexican-inspired dessert. I’ve seen various recipes for Mexican chocolate cakes and I’ve tried a few, but I was never quite satisfied with the result. I played around with spices and came up with a cupcake that is surprisingly complex – the cinnamon & cayenne are the perfect blend of sweet and spicy while the chili and espresso powders add another dimension of flavor to the cocoa. Although these spices are not typically included in dessert, they are the perfect compliment to the chocolate, resulting in rich, moist cupcakes with a kick. Not only were these super easy to make, but they were a hit with the non-vegans I tested them on as well.  Give them a try – you may be pleasantly surprised!

Cupcakes (makes 24)

2.5 c. flour
2 c. sugar
¾ c. cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cayenne pepper (you could use a bit less if you are very sensitive to spices)
1 ½ tsp. espresso powder
2 c. warm water
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. vanilla
Cinnamon “Buttercream” Frosting
1 stick vegan butter substitute
3 c. powdered sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon (plus extra to sprinkle on top)
2 Tbs. almond milk

Cupcake Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. Add warm water, apple cider vinegar, oil, and vanilla, stirring until well combined.
  4. Pour batter into lined muffin pans, filling each ¾ of the way full.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
  6. Cool before icing.

Frosting Instructions:

  1. Whip room temperature butter substitute until light and fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar gradually.
  3. Add vanilla, cinnamon, and almond milk as necessary until desired consistency is achieved.
  4. Frost cupcakes and sprinkle a dash of extra cinnamon on top of each cupcake to garnish.