Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

Last night, I was thumbing through Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (because I read cookbooks at bed time like a true fat kid) and I decided to make chocolate orange cupcakes.  I have not successfully made a cupcake in a while, so I figured now was a good time to try again. I was right. These cupcakes are amazing.

This recipe is adapted from the one found in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I have noted the modifications below. If you don’t already have a copy of this book, please do yourself a favor and get one.  One of the reasons Jackie and I started this blog was because of this book. We were both blown away by the awesomeness of dairy free cupcakes. Here’s the best part – you can taste the batter without fear of salmonella from raw eggs! If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

Ingredients

1 cup rice milk (they call for soy)
1 teaspoon white vinegar (they call for apple cider vinegar)
3/4 cup turbinado sugar (they call for granulated)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract (I had this in my cabinet, believe it or not. Sub for more vanilla extract)
1 cup flour, sifted
1/3 cup cocoa powder (they call for Dutch-processed, which is stupid expensive)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of finely grated orange zest or 1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract (also stupid expensive)

For the ganache:
1/4 cup of rice milk (soy works, too.)
Orange used for zesting
1/2 cup (4 oz) chopped semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons of liquid sweetener (their recipe calls for maple syrup, I used agave nectar)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Side note: it took me 45 minutes to get my stupid oven to register 350 degrees. This is why it is imperative to have an oven thermometer.

1. In a large bowl, combine vinegar and milk and whisk. Let it sit for 5 minutes so it can curdle. Soy milk curdles better than rice milk, just so you know.  See VeganBaking.net for the reason for the curdling.

2. After five minutes, add the rest of the wet ingredients to the bowl and whisk them all together.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Be sure to sift the flour first and then the cocoa powder. Sifting the cocoa powder is essential to avoid having baked in balls of undissolved cocoa. If you don’t have a sifter, use a fine mesh sieve. It works beautifully.

4. Be sure to line your muffin tin with cup cake liners before proceeding.

5. If you have a kitchen top mixer, add the wet to the dry in two batches. Mix it on 3 or 4 speed for about 4 minutes until it’s combined and pretty smooth. Some lumps are okay. If you have a hand mixer, do the same on the second lowest setting. If you’re using elbow grease, just dump the whole thing in there and mix it until everything looks the same. Some lumps are okay!

6. Fill the liners about 1/2 – 3/4 of the way full. If you over fill them, they will bake up to look like muffins. For the ganache topping, you want them to be pretty flat on the top.

7. Bake for 20 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.

The Ganache:

Chocolate ganache is easy peasy and super delicious. It’s so pretty to look at that your guest will think you spent hours making it. It takes about 5 minutes to make. Winning. Again, this is from the recipe in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World with some modifications.

1. In a small sauce pan, bring the rice milk to a boil. Cut the orange you used for the zest in half and squeeze it pulp side up over the pan using the mesh sieve to catch the pulp. (If you’re like me you will have rinsed it by now from the sifting. If not, the residual cocoa powder on the screen will do nicely for this ganache.)

2. Once it has boiled, remove it from the heat and add the chocolate and the liquid sweetener. Use a rubber spatula to stir. This will melt the chocolate and prevent it from sticking.

3. Set aside and allow it to cool to room temperature.

BEFORE ICING THE CUPCAKES, YOU MUST ALLOW THEM TO COOL COMPLETELY. I am not joking. The ganache is pretty thin and if you don’t allow them both to cool, you’re going to have a hot orange chocolate mess all over your kitchen and not in a good way. You’ve been warned.

To ice the completely cooled cupcakes and ganache, either use a butter knife and scoop it on to the cupcake and spread it around or dunk the flat top of the cupcake in the ganache. I used both techniques and both proved to be equally effective. The dunking, however, was a lot more fun.

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