Baking & Dessert

By Aine Carlin | June 2, 2011

Photographer: Aine Carlin

I don’t do a tremendous amount of baking but now and again the urge strikes me and I find myself in the kitchen whipping up some sort of sweet muffin, cupcake or cookie – for some reason I seem to alternate between the three. It’s true to say it can be a little more difficult to get that sweet fix when you’re vegan. Depending on where you live you may or may not have access to vegan baked goods, so most of the time you have to rely on your own baking skills to get you through. 

Photo: Aine Carlin

In my case I live in a reasonably vegan friendly town but I’ve yet to come across suitable cupcakes, much to my dismay. Plenty of fruit crumble, sliced cake and even ice-cream, but one day I would just love to be able to go out for a vegan latte and a colossal cupcake – I can but dream!

Photo: Aine Carlin

For now, I’m happy to create my own, and I thought while I was at it, I would make them gluten-free and soy-free too, as a shout out to all my (cyber) pals who can’t consume either. Being vegan I feel their pain on the dietary limitation front so whenever I have the opportunity to accommodate those with a wheat or soy intolerance, I take it.

Photo: Aine Carlin

I couldn’t have been happier with the way these cupcakes turned out. So very chocolaty but also moist and crumbly, exactly the way I like my cake in a cup to be. The frosting was simple in the extreme but perfectly complimented the cupcake, in particular the tiny piped chocolate rosette finishing it off both visually and in taste.

Photo: Aine Carlin

This recipe makes six large cupcakes and there’s a good reason for that – if I made any more, I’d eat them!

Photo: Aine Carlin

Gluten-Free and Soy-Free Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting Recipe

Servings: 6


  • 3/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup xylitol or vegan sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt (I used Pink Himalayan salt)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp white wine or cider vinegar (vegan)
  • 1/8 cup oil
For Vanilla Frosting
  • 1/2 cup vegan sunflower spread
  • 2 cups vegan powdered/icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Splash of coconut milk


1. Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

2. Sieve the flour, cocoa, xylitol, salt, baking soda and baking powder into a large bowl. Lightly mix with a spatula to incorporate the ingredients.

3. Add the water, coconut milk, vanilla extract, oil and vinegar to the dry ingredients and gently fold using a spatula until everything is thoroughly combined. The batter will be fairly thick.

4. Line a muffin tray with six large liners and fill each one half way. Put immediately into the oven (ensuring it is at 175 celsius/350 fahrenheit).

5. Bake for 25 minutes. In the last ten minutes I turned the tray around to make sure they were all evenly baked. Insert a skewer into the center, if it comes out clean, they are ready. Allow to cool completely before icing. I let them cool for ten minutes in the tray before transferring them to a cooling rack.

To Make Vanilla Frosting:

6. Combine the sunflower spread and 1 cup of the sugar using a spatula.
7. Add the vanilla extract, coconut milk and remainder of the icing sugar and whisk until light and fluffy using a balloon whisk. You can use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

For the chocolate icing:

8. Take about a 1/4 cup of the vanilla frosting and combine with a heaped teaspoon of cocoa powder using a spatula.
Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a nozzle of your choosing - I went for a size 30 star effect one.

When the cupcakes are completely cool frost each one with the vanilla frosting using a spatula. After each one is frosted pipe a little rosette onto each one just off center.

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