Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Vegan Chocolate & Cherry Cupcakes

Whether you're taking part in Veganuary, want to make a batch of tasty vegan cupcakes for a vegan friend or relative, or are simply intrigued by egg free and vegan cake recipes, then these easy to make vegan cupcakes, flavoured with the classic combination of chocolate and cherry, are a must try.  They are super light and moist, and are topped with a vegan chocolate ganache and a fresh cherry!

Easy to make vegan Chocolate & Cherry Cupcakes

Being quite a traditional home baker eggs feature regularly in my bakes.  Whether its a simple Victoria sponge, fun cupcakes, a pastry bake or even a meringue, it's rare for eggs not to feature in my ingredient list.

Although Mr E & I have been vegetarian for more years than we care to remember, we seldom try out vegan recipes.  It's relatively straightforward to replace butter, milk and cream in a recipe - but eggs are a different matter.  Imagine baking a Victoria Sponge or attempting a genoise cake without eggs!  As a traditional baker the thought leaves me in a bit of a spin to be honest!

Hen eggs

Back in November, regular readers of Only Crumbs Remain may recall our Pear Chocolate and Spice Cake which had started out with the plan of being a vegan cake, well that was the intention on the drawing board!  However my chosen egg replacer, chia seeds, had proved to be difficult, near impossible, to grind with a pestle & mortar (not being in possession of a spice or coffee grinder) and so after an hour of pounding those pesky little seeds I cracked and added eggs to the mixture instead! Literally!



My second foray in the world of vegan cakes was an utter disaster and went straight in the bin, after I'd nibbled a little of it!  I'd attempted a light and moist Swiss Carrot Cake, replacing the separated eggs with apple sauce and whipped up aquafaba.  It looked great going into the oven but during the bake the whole thing collapsed.  The egg replacement clearly wasn't robust or strong enough for the recipe.

Aquafaba whipped up
         

Why eggs are used in baking

So in trying to understand why my previous vegan bakes had failed, it may be useful to look at the purpose of eggs in baking.  As we know, eggs, once whipped, help to create volume and lightness in a bake (think of meringues and souffles in particular).  However they also permanently bind together once heated (think of an omlette), helping to firm up the structure of the bake.   

With the help of James Morton's 'How Baking Works', here's the science bit.....
  • Eggs are able to froth up and increase in volume due to the high protein content of the egg white.  These proteins are called albumins, and when looked at under a microscope they are curled.   The whisking encourages the albumins to uncurl and stretch out, it also introduces air into the egg.  This allows the albumins to turn into small bubbles which in turn gives cakes and meringues their lightness.
  • Heat also allows the proteins to unfurl, allowing the batter mixture of a cake to rise and 'leaven'.
  • The proteins are more intact in fresher egg whites rather than those which are a little older, and so explains why recipes call for very fresh eggs to be used when making meringues and macarons, for instance.
  • Egg yolks contain a protein called Lecithin.  James Morton explains that this is a two-sided chemical structure.  It allows one side to bind to fats whilst the other side binds to water.  This has the effect of allowing mixtures to bind together, allowing them to be moist.  He explains that cakes made without egg yolks and solely with egg whites have a tendency to be dry.         

Egg free & vegan Chocolate & Cherry Cupcakes

Vegan Egg Replacers

Having carried out some reading around vegan egg replacers, in the hope that my third attempt at an egg free cake or cupcake would be successful, I learnt that there is a whole host of substitute ingredients available.  I was already aware that aquafaba (the usually thrown away liquid surrounding tinned legumes, particularly chickpeas) is a great for vegan meringues and macarons, but my reading opened my eyes to the idea of using ingredients like banana, apple sauce, oils, white wine vinegar, baking powder and ground chia and flaxseeds in place of the humble egg.

The trick, however, is to know which egg replacer to use for your chosen bake.  Below are links to other sites which explain this simply and clearly and may be useful if you too are new to vegan baking.
  • Food 52, in their post entitled How to make your own egg replacers, explains which vegan egg substitute to use for which type of bake.  For instance, if you're planning on making brownies or a custardy bake, Food 52 suggests using silken tofu.
  • The Huggington Post shared, The best vegan egg replacement for baking.  It's basically a comparative bake post, similar to my Side-by-Side posts, in which the author whipped up 4 different batches of blueberry & lemon muffins.  Each batch was made with a different egg replacer (chickpea, banana, flaxseed, acid base).   
  • A useful infograph of various egg alternatives can be found in this post entitled 12 egg replacements for baking and cooking.      

 
Easy to make vegan Chocolate & Cherry Cupcakes

 

Ground Flaxseed as an Egg Replacer

Wanting to make a some sort of vegan chocolate muffin or cupcake, the vegan egg replacer I selected was Flaxseeds.

 

Whole Flaxseeds Vs Ground  Flaxseeds

Now, just about every site I've visited regarding egg free baking advise to purchase the whole seed (this applies to chia seeds as well as flaxseeds) rather than the pre-ground seeds as the naturally occurring omega 3s in the product can soon become rancid and spoil.  Food 52 (linked to above) also suggests that better results will be achieved when grinding the seeds as required.  However, having already failed dismally at grinding chia seeds with a pestle and mortar it seemed fairly obvious that I'd have the same lack of success with the flaxseeds, and so purchased a packet of pre-ground flaxseeds for our vegan cupcake recipe.    As it turns out my blogging pal Nico, who is a vegan and writes at YumSome, recently shared her thoughts on ground flaxseeds in her recipe for a vegan self-saucing chocolate pudding (check it out, it looks seriously delicious!)  She explains that her packet of ground flaxseeds are 11 months old and have lost non of their 'gloop' making properties having been stored in the fridge!     

The point I'm trying to make here is this: if you have a suitable kitchen gadget to enable you to grind the seeds then, of course, buy the whole seeds and prepare them as required.  However,  if you want to try an egg free bake but don't have a suitable gadget to grind the seeds don't be put off from using the pre-ground products.  Of course, the remainder of the ground seeds could be sprinkled over your porridge or cereal in a morning or even used in another egg free bake.
       

 

How to Grind Flaxseeds

If you choose to grind the seeds as required you're going to need a suitable kitchen gadget to help you with the job.  Spice and coffee grinders seem to be the go-to gadget for this task, although I have been reliably told that a stick blender also work well.  Some sites list a pestle & mortar as being suitable, but having already tried this technique when grinding chia seeds I wouldn't advocate it unless you have a significant amount of spare time!

 

Making an Egg Replacer with Flaxseeds

As with chia seeds, simply use 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of warm water for every egg to be replaced.  Once mixed with the warm water the mixture gradually turn gloopy and after about 10 minutes is ready to be used in your recipe.      

Cherries work so well with chocolate in bakes.


Vegan Chocolate and Cherry Cupcakes.

And so, finally onto our egg free and vegan bake.  Wondering if the flaxseeds would perhaps colour the sponge, we decided to make a batch of Chocolate and Cherry Cupcakes.  Chocolate and Cherry is such a classic combination which is simply delicious.  After all, the Black Forrest Gateau has recently undergone a resurgence of popularity for very good reasons.

Egg free & vegan easy to make Chocolate & Cherry Cupcake recipe

These vegan cupcakes (adapted from this chocolate cake recipe) are amazingly easy to make.  There is no creaming or folding as you would with a traditional bake, like a Victoria sponge or genoise cake.  In fact they're made in much the same way as a muffin recipe.  The dry ingredients are sifted into a bowl and the wet ingredients are added before everything is beaten together.  It's really that simple.

Easy to make vegan Chocolate & Cherry Cupcakes

The chocolate cupcakes rose beautifully during the bake and, although they sank slightly after coming out of the oven, the sponge was beautifully light and moist.   I had planned on filling these egg free Chocolate and Cherry Cupcakes with a hidden pocket of cherry jam, but the cake sponge itself was beautiful as it was and really didn't warrant any further moisture being added to the bake.

How to make vegan cupcakes

So if you're taking part in Veganuary, want to make a batch of delicious vegan cupcakes for a vegan friend or relative, or are simply intrigued by egg free and vegan cake recipes, then these easy to make vegan cupcakes, flavoured with the classic combination of chocolate and cherry, are a must try.  They are super light and moist, and are topped with a vegan chocolate ganache and a fresh cherry!




So, let's get to it and make Vegan Chocolate & Cherry Cupcakes























Pin Vegan Chocolate & Cherry Cupcakes for later!

Egg free and vegan easy to make Chocolate & Cherry Cupcake recipe





This post has been shared with:

Treat Petite co-hosted by Kat at The Baking Explorer and Stuart at Cakeyboi (this month hosted by Stuart)

 We Should Cocoa hosted by Chocolette over at Tin & Thyme

Hijacked By Twins Casa Costello







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32 comments:

  1. these look so delicious Angela and well done on managing to make them with an egg replacement. To be honest I am not bothered about not using eggs, but seeing your cakes does make me marvel at how another ingredient can work the same magic on sponge. xx

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    1. Thank you Jenny, to be honest I was intregued more than anything about how they would turn out and if there was anything obviously different. Happily, they turned out to be lovely and certainly not obviously egg-free or vegan. I think it's perhaps useful to have alternatives up our sleeves even as bakers who regularly use eggs for that instance when you 'need' to bake and there is only one egg available and no time to go to the shop to buy another dozen eggs!
      Angela x

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  2. Oooh yum!! Welcome to the darkside!! Hate to say it but whole seeds would work too! Golden syrup is another good egg replacer! X

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    1. Hahaha, I must admit i quite enjoyed visiting the 'darkside' Midgie :-) Ah, you'r full of information :-) I had no idea that whole seeds and even golden syrup would work too. Do the wholeseeds breakdown during the bake or are they noticeable during the eat?
      Thanks for your lovely comment Midgie,
      Angela x

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  3. Angela these look gorgeous. As you know I'm interested in egg replacements too but haven't tried flaxseeds yet. Well done for persevering!

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    1. Thank you Mandy, I must say I was very pleasantly surprised by how effective they were.
      Angela x

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  4. I do the same thing as you, I avoid baking vegan dishes, especially for the traditional ones. But I would cook a lot of savoury vegan dishes. I should bake vegan more often, to learn new things about baking.

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    1. It was really interesting to learn about all of the vegan alternatives we can use in our bakes as egg replacers Anca - I know I'll certainly be visiting vegan baking again.
      Angela x

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  5. Fascinating post Angela. I do like it when you get into the technical side of baking - it's something I don't know much about, but find fascinating - it really is a kind of alchemy! And so pleased for you that you finally found something that worked! And these look so beautiful. How did the taste compare to a regular eggy cake? Eb x

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    1. Aw thankyou Eb :-) You're right, it is very alchemy! To be honest, until starting the blog I would usually whip up a bake not really thinking much about what was happening and why, so these types of posts are very interesting to me too. It helps me realise why we do certain things so that knowledge can be applied elsewhere. Taste wise there wasn't much difference between a regular like sponge bake to these. I think the only thing which was obviously different was the ganache having use alpro cream rather than the usual cow's double cream. But of course the ganache is a matter of taste and simply finding an alternative which we prefer. We'll certainly be visiting vegan cakes again :-)
      Thanks for you're lovely comments Eb,
      Angela x

      Thank you

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  6. This was a really interested read Angela. I've avoided making vegan cakes for the exact same reason that I cannot imagine baking one without eggs. However, your cakes look perfect so perhaps I'll have to give it a try.

    I was interested to see that you added tamarind paste to your cake mix. It would never have occurred to me to add it to a sweet dish like this.

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    1. Aw thankyou Charlotte :-) It still seems 'bizarre' that such light cakes can be made without eggs. But something really enlightening. I'd definitely suggest visiting vegan cakes Charlotte, they certainly weren't obviously lacking anything at all. The sponge was beautifully soft and moist and I suspect they would keep really well (they didn't get the chance to last long around here having shared them with my folks - they were interested in them with them being free of sat fats!).
      I used the tamarind paste having seen it used in a Baked Bengal Curds recipe (I blogged about that a few wks ago). The origianl recipe for the curds had used the tamarind to macerate the fruits, so knowing that and having read online that the paste can successfully be used in sweet bakes I thought that the addition of the paste would help enhance the flavour of the cherries (which I'd initially planned as being a secret treat in the middle of the cupcake once baked.) Non the less, the tamarind certainlg didn't negatively affect the bake.
      Thanks for your lovely comment Charlotte,
      Angela x

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  7. These look beautiful! Chocolate and cherries go so well together and it sounds like you've learnt loads about vegan baking which is great too.

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    1. Don't they just - chocolate and cherries are such a classic combo aren't they :-) I certainly did learn a lot Corina, and will definitely be visiting vegan baking again,
      Thanks for your lovely comment,
      Angela x

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  8. Lordy lord. I saw these on your Instagram and they look to die for!
    Looooovvving your photography in the post also! So profesh!
    Betty x
    The Betty Stamp

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    1. Awe thankyou Betty, I'm glad you like the look of them :-) The pictures are all down to our new camera - I have a lot to learn with it but even just on auto mode the pictures are far clearer than our old compact.
      Angela c

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  9. Angela, these look stunning! I'll be adding these to my BritMums vegan bakes list! Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x

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  10. thank you for linking up to #Bakeroftheweek x

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    1. You're welcome Jwnny, thankyou for hosting :-)
      Angela x

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  11. What a fab recipe Angela, I love all the information you give, your cupcakes look delicious. I had no idea you could use flax seeds as an egg replacement, I've only used them in my granola and yoghurt :) x

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    1. Aw thankyou Sarah. I had no idea either, but I'd definitely recomend setting a couple of spoonfuls of your flaxseed aside and trying a vegan bake - it's amazing what they do in place of the eggs!
      Angela x

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  12. These look so pretty and moist, I adore cherries so this is a real winner for me.

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    1. Thankyou, cherries are just lovely in a bake aren't they :-) I have to say they were beautifully soft and moist, and yet still aerated!
      Thanks for popping by,
      Angela x

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  13. What gorgeous photos Angela, your vegan cakes look amazing and it is really interesting to read about egg replacers in vegan baking, I started a vegan bakes board on Pinterest and it is something I have been meaning to try. But when it comes to it grabbing eggs, butter, milk, sugar and flour is always so much easier so I haven't got round to it yet.

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    1. Aw thankyou Lucy :-) You're right, it is so easy to get the usual butter, milk, eggs etc out of the cupboards for a regular bake - but I've been wanting to see what a vegan bake is actually like for ages and finally I've succeededwith these cupcakes! it's definitely something to try Lucy,
      Angela x

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  14. These will appeal to the black forest loving side of me Angela. Thanks for entering these into Treat Petite x

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  15. Ooh, your photos look so good Angela, my mouth is watering. Cherry and chocolate is such a good combination. I really like the light texture of eggless cupcakes. I must say I don't bother with egg replacers when making vegan bakes, although I do usually add a little vinegar. I tried aquafaba once and it was a total disaster.

    Thanks for sharing with We Should Cocoa. I've pinned to my vegan bakes board as well as the We Should Cocoa one.

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    1. Aw thankyou Chocolette. It's amazing how light the cupcakes were without the egg, I was seriously surprised. I'm glad it's not just me that has strugged to use aquafaba in cakes, though I suspect i shall revisit it at some point.
      Thanks for hosting, a lovely linky
      Angela x

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  16. Whoa! Vegan cupcakes? These sound amazing and the photos are making my mouth water. :D Thanks for sharing, Angela. x

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