Makes 12 cupcakes
This combo is basically heaven to me. Butterscotch and bacon have a caramelly affinity for one another and I love the sweet salty combo. As for the bacon craze: I get it. Add some smokiness to the mix and you’ve got something really special. But I love pigs, they are cute and smart, and so my bacon comes in plant form.
Now, this recipe really elucidates vegan rule #14 “Vegans can and will make bacon out of everything.” Hide your eggplants, protect your carrots and build a safehouse for your coconut because the vegans are coming for their BLTs. And cupcakes.
But before you yell at me about how inaccessible this recipe is, let me state: you can make these into plain old (but deliciously amazing exceptionally wonderful) Vanilla Cupcakes With Vanilla Frosting. I, however, had just come into a windfall of Coconut Bacon and I was determined to use it. My boyfriend does this blog, The Laziest Vegans In The World, and he purchased a bunch of Phoney Baloney’s Coconut Bacon. Honestly, I mostly ignore the stuff he eats (unless it’s chocolate, duh), but I was pretty intrigued because, well, see above. I love vegan bacon. And I especially loved the simple ingredients list and, yum, is this stuff ever smoky and good! Because it’s made from coconut, it just seemed right to put it in a sweet treat. You can order Coconut Bacon or make it yourself.
The second exciting part of this post is about the coconut-based frosting and cupcake. Not to get too heavy-handed in a post about cupcakes, but I also love orangutans. Just today I saw a heartbreaking article about what palm oil production is doing to orangutan habitats. Although there are claims of sustainability from some companies, there is too much conflicting information about it. And so, awhile ago I decided not to use palm oil in my recipes. Which, unfortunately, means I won’t be using any vegan butters (for now.) So this recipe uses an applesauce-coconut oil concoction that I find works perfectly for buttery baked goods.
Now that I’ve made this recipe totally depressing, let me brighten it up! As I mentioned, these make perfect vanilla cupcakes as well. The cupcake is already vanilla, so we’re good there, and for the frosting, simply replace the extract with pure vanilla. Since vanilla is much less powerful than butterscotch, use a bit more. Say 1 1/2 teaspoons. And dress ‘em up with some cute naturally colored sprinkles or whatever else makes you forget about all of the misery in the world.
OK, now go forth and be sweet and salty!
~ I don’t want to scare you off, working with coconut oil isn’t difficult, but you do need to pay attention to a few things. You can not do a one for one swap, or your baked goods will come out greasy because coconut oil pretty much pure fat, whereas margarine has some water and other ingredients in there. I really like to use a little unsweetened apple sauce in combination with the coconut oil. For 1/2 cup of margarine use about 1/3 cup coconut oil and 2 tablespoons applesauce, as I’ve done here.
~ For the frosting, you have to work warm. Otherwise the coconut oil coagulates and just doesn’t act how you want it too. So follow the directions, paying attention to the temperature of both the melted coconut oil and the warm milk.
~ Use refined coconut oil, because otherwise the coconut flavor will be very pronounced. Just be sure that the jar says “expeller pressed” so that you know it’s not overly processed or hydrogenated.
~ If you can’t find vegan butterscotch extract, you can order it online. I think it’s worth it to have around, since it’s such an easy and affordable way to elevate your baked goods with a special flavor. One bottle will last you a lifetime.
~ Lastly, I made these cupcakes into minis. But I am giving directions for full-sized. If you want to make them into minis, bake for 16 minutes, and be advised that they make about 3 dozen minis.
For the vanilla cupcakes:
1 cup plain almond milk, or favorite vegan milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup refined coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce, at room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the butterscotch frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar (sifted if clumpy)
2 or 3 tablespoons warm plain almond milk, or favorite vegan milk (divided)
1/4 cup refined coconut oil, melted
3/4 teaspoon butterscotch extract
1/2 cup coconut bacon, prepared or homemade
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and spray lightly with cooking spray oil.
In a measuring cup, mix together the almond milk and apple cider vinegar, and set aside to curdle.
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer on medium speed to beat the coconut oil, apple sauce and sugars, until it appears caramelly. Now add 1/2 cup of the flour, the baking powder and salt, and beat again. Add half of the milk and another 1/2 cup of the flour and beat until smooth. Staggering the milk/flour helps to achieve a smooth and even batter. Add the remaining milk and flour and beat just until smooth.
Fill cupcake liners most of the way. Bake cupcakes for 20 to 22 minutes, until a butter knife inserted through the center comes out clean.
Let cool completely, and in the meantime, prepare the frosting.
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, whip the sugar and a pinch of salt with 2 tablespoons of warm milk and half of the melted coconut oil, until well combined. It should be thick but pliable and almost smooth. Add the remaining coconut oil and, if necessary, the remaining tablespoon of warm milk, along with the butterscotch extract. Beat until totally smooth and ribbony.
Refrigerate for about an hour, and whip again. It should be ready to use now! If it’s too thick, add a tablespoon or so of warm milk, until you get the right consistency.
To assemble cupcakes:
Use a large tablespoon to scoop on a good sized amount of frosting. Smooth is out with the back of the spoon, then sprinkle on a scant tablespoon or so of coconut bacon. Serve!