Crème-Filled CupcakesMove over, name-brand cupcakes found in a little plastic bag. These are homemade, have half the fat and are still crème-filled delicious! For a vegan version, replace the all-purpose flour with gluten-free all-purpose flour plus three-quarters teaspoon of xanthan gum and use dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips. Want to make these in advance? The chocolate cupcakes can be filled with crème frosting and frozen for up to two weeks. Thaw cupcakes and apply chocolate ganache topping, and swirl design before serving. Any leftover crème frosting can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
For the chocolate cupcakes:
1½ c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 c. cold coffee or water
½ c. canola oil
2 Tbs. white or apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
For the crème frosting:
1 c. non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
3 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 to 5 Tbs. soy, almond or rice milk
For the chocolate ganache:
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
¼ c. canned coconut milk, mixed well before measuring
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 piping bag, fitted with a small round or Bismarck tip
To make the chocolate cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 (12-cup) cupcake pans with 14 cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together coffee, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix.
Fill the cupcake liners about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.
To make the crème frosting, using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the shortening until smooth. With the mixer running on low, add powdered sugar, vanilla and 1 tablespoon nondairy milk at a time, as needed, until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. You may not need to use all of the nondairy milk. Beat on high for 2 more minutes until light and fluffy.
To make the chocolate ganache, melt chocolate chips and coconut milk in a double boiler or microwave. Whisk in oil until smooth.
To assemble the cupcakes, fit the piping bag with a small round or Bismarck tip and fill with the crème frosting. Insert the tip into the center of the top of each cupcake and squeeze the bag to fill with about 2 to 3 teaspoons of frosting. There is no need to scoop out any of the cake. Spread the top of each cupcake with a thin layer of chocolate ganache and pipe a 4-loop design with the crème frosting.