Vegan Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Inspired by Hostess cupcakes, these vegan chocolate cupcakes are filled with an eggless meringue made with aquafaba (the cooking liquid from chickpeas) and glazed tops with a shiny chocolate ganache made with soy milk. They're so unbelievably delicious no one will believe they could be vegan. I'm excited for you to try this recipe--it is as fun to make as it is to eat.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 25 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: Makes 12 regular cupcakes
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Ingredients

Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (100 grams) superfine sugar

1/3 cup (40 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup (55 grams) vegetable oil (such as canola)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Soy Ganache:

4 ounces (115 grams) vegan semisweet chocolate

1/2 cup (120 grams) plain soy milk

Vegan Marshmallow:

1/4 cup (90 grams) aquafaba (liquid from a can of no-salt-added chickpeas, or homemade)

1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Assembly:

1 ounce (30 grams) vegan white chocolate, melted

Directions

Special equipment:
a 12-cup muffin tin; 12 muffin cup liners
  1. For the chocolate cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a 12-cup regular muffin tin with muffin papers, or oil and flour the cups. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, superfine sugar, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup (240 grams) cold water, the oil, and the vanilla. Pour the oil mixture into the flour mixture and mix them together with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth and homogeneous. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared muffin tin cups, filling the cups about three-quarters full.
  3. Bake for 18 to 24 minutes, rotating the muffin tin midway through the baking time, until the cupcakes spring back when you touch them lightly in the middle and a cake tester inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in the muffin tin on a wire rack for about 30 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the tin and let them cool completely directly on the rack.
  4. While the cupcakes are baking, make the soy ganache and vegan marshmallow.
  5. For the soy ganache: Chop the chocolate and place in a medium metal or heat-proof glass bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the soy milk until just before it comes to a boil, when small bubbles collect along the sides of the pan. Pour the soy milk over the chocolate and let stand for about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk the chocolate and soy milk together until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth.
  6. Pour the ganache into a small bowl and let it cool to room temperature so that it is cool to the touch but still somewhat liquid. If the ganache firms up too much, rewarm it slightly in the microwave or a bain-marie (see Cook's Note); don't warm it so much that it gets runny.
  7. For the vegan marshmallow: Place the aquafaba in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until the aquafaba gets foamy and thick. Slowly add the sugar and vanilla and whip on medium-high for 8 to 10 minutes, until the marshmallow is thick and fluffy. It will take a long time to thicken but once it does, it will magically become exactly like meringue. Use immediately.
  8. To assemble: When the cupcakes are completely cool, use a small teaspoon or a spoon handle to scoop out a divot in the center of each cupcake, about 1 1/2 inches deep and 1 inch wide. Set aside the pieces of cake you take out. Fill each hole with a spoonful of the marshmallow and top with a piece of the saved cake. Use an offset spatula or knife to spread the cupcake tops with the ganache, covering them fully.
  9. Make a cornet out of parchment paper. A cornet is a small parchment paper cone that you fill with melted chocolate, caramel, or piping icing that you use to write on cakes and cookies. To make a cornet, fold a piece of parchment paper on the diagonal and cut through the fold with a small paring knife so you have two triangles. Position one of the triangles so the longest edge is facing away from you on an angle from lower left to upper right, the shortest edge is on the right, and the middle-length edge is facing down (toward you). Now eyeball the mid-length edge to find the halfway point. Place your left hand at this point and hold it down with your forefinger and thumb. Bend down the top corner, then twist it under so that the point is approximately at the midpoint of the shortest edge and poking out about an inch. You will see the beginning of a cone forming. Slowly roll the parchment down with your right hand while anchoring the opposite tip with your left hand. After you've rolled the whole triangle into a cone, tuck the extended point of the open top inward to hold everything in place.
  10. Fill the cornet halfway with the melted chocolate (don't overfill or you will end up with a mess) and roll the top of the cornet closed like a tube of toothpaste, making sure to roll the cornet with the seam on the bottom. Snip the point with scissors or cut it off with a small paring knife to make a tiny opening for the filling to come out.
  11. Draw a decorative swirl across each of the cupcakes. Serve immediately or within a few hours of filling.
  12. These cupcakes should be eaten the same day they are made.

Cook’s Note

A bain-marie is a water bath. We use them all the time in pastry to melt things or gently cook things. All you need is a pot and a metal or heatproof glass bowl that can rest on top of it. Pour at least 3 inches of water in the pot and bring it to a simmer. Place the bowl on top of that and voila! Instant bain-marie. The Soy Ganache can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If refrigerated, melt it in a bain-marie or in the microwave before using. The Vegan Marshmallow recipe makes about 1 cup, more marshmallow than you need for the cupcakes, but it's hard to whip up a smaller amount. If your mixer's whisk isn't engaging with the aquafaba because there isn't enough in the bowl, consider doubling the recipe.

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