You never need a reason for a cupcake, but, a birthday is a perfectly good one if you’re really looking for an excuse. We celebrated my mom’s birthday recently with a wonderful dinner at a new to me Indian restaurant, Indigma, which I highly recommend if you’re in or around the Baltimore area. They have a vegan and gluten free menu in addition to an extensive offering of traditional and modern Indian dishes.
Dessert was, of course, cupcakes. More specifically, chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes. They are packed full of chocolate flavor with both cocoa powder and chocolate chips. Strawberry jam in mixed right into the batter, giving fruity flavor to every bite. The simple vanilla-spiked coconut oil buttercream rounds out these cupcakes, perfectly balancing the rich chocolate and tangy strawberry. Top with cacao nibs for a bit of crunch, or fresh strawberries for a lovely pop of color. Better yet, use both!
Strawberry jam, in addition to lending wonderful flavor and texture, takes place of a big portion of the oil that’s generally found in cupcake batter. Coconut oil makes for a beautiful looking, and even better tasting frosting. It is just as rich and creamy as a traditional buttercream. I promise nobody will miss the butter - in fact, they might be happier without it!
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup strawberry jam*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder*
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips
12 teaspoons strawberry jam, divided*
Cacao nibs (optional)
Fresh Strawberries (optional)
1 cup coconut oil at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons almond milk, plus more if needed
For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or line with paper muffin liners and standard 12-cup muffin tin.
Combine almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl. combine coconut sugar, sunflower oil, strawberry jam, and vanilla extract. Pour in almond milk mixture and stir until incorporated.
In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Pour in wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each muffin liner about 3/4 full. Drop a teaspoon of strawberry jam into the center of each muffin liner.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Buttercream
In a medium bowl, beat coconut oil with a hand mixer until it begins to get fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well between additions. Add vanilla extract and almond milk and beat for another 3-5 minutes, until the buttercream is light and fluffy.
Once completely cooled, spread about 1 tablespoon of frosting over each cupcake. Garnish with cacao nibs or fresh strawberries, if desired.
Store in an airtight container, unrefrigerated (without strawberries), for up to 5 days.
*Notes: Any flavor of jam or other fruit puree may be substituted for strawberry jam in an equal amount. Do not use Dutch processed cocoa powder, as the cupcakes will not rise properly.
Is cake a must for you on birthdays? I personally am not a cake fan (though frosting is a different story). I much prefer creamy, spoonable desserts like avocado chocolate mousse, or just a really good piece of chocolate. Clearly, chocolate is required. If cake isn’t for you, either, what are your favorite birthday treats?