my plot to take over the world

meet graeme.
graeme is a member of my weekly studio photography class.
graeme volunteered to bring his kilt to our portraiture session.
graeme, i am sure, regretted this decision when 10 photographers swarmed around him for an hour, popping flashes and strobes every which way, but graeme was very obliging to his fellow man and played along.

graeme, it turns out, is also a vegan, which means that my labored-over world peace cookies from last week didn't make it onto his dessert menu.

most people, i am sure, would throw their hands up and keep baking. but i, newly-minted member of the daring bakers and compulsive keeper of recipes, saw only opportunity.

yes, opportunity. at last, a tailor-made excuse to play with the vegan cupcake recipe i'd been dilly-dallying over for months, ever since the washington post did a spread about vegan cupcakes take over the world. i'd clipped it, then discarded it, then clipped it again, discarded it, debating between the perceived health benefits of using almost no cholesterol in my baking with the harsh caloric reality of margarine-and-shortening icing. and now there were no obstacles in my path (except a pernicious bout of allergies, and a very fat cat who took one look at my chocolate-covered hands and decided i was ignoring him).

so stocked up on soy milk and earth balance and spent a very miserable wednesday evening--miserable because of the allergies, NOT the baking--discovering the joys of vegan baking.

the batter was so thin it was almost soupy, but it had this nice foamy layer from beating the curdled soy milk. a whopping 1/3 cup of cocoa powder gave it a deep chocolate flavor, and the extra dose of baking soda make everything rise appropriately. the cupcakes were light, fluffy, cakey and delicious. one would never miss the milk, eggs or butter, that's for sure.

and the icing? the icing was a revelation. it was light and whipped and held its texture really well. it had an ideal icing consistency, and the use of confectioners sugar kept everything smooth and creamy. best of all--to me, at least--was that the icing tasted like icing, and not butter. one of my major gripes with cupcakes and cakes and similar confections is that i despise buttercream. all i can ever taste is an overwhelming flavor of butter, and i hate the feel of all that fat on my tongue. but the cookies and cream icing was sweet, creamy, and just a tiny bit crunchy from the bits of chocolate wafer cookies stirred in.

surely world domination will follow!

Cookies 'n' Cream Cupcakes

The Washington Post, November 29, 2006

Related Story

1 dozen

For the cupcakes
  • • 1 cup flour
  • • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process or regular)
  • • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • • 1 cup soy milk
  • • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • • 3/4 cup sugar
  • • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract or more vanilla extract
  • • 10 vegan chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies, such as Newman-O's, coarsely chopped
For the frosting
  • • 1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
  • • 1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, such as Earth Balance
  • • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted if clumpy
  • • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • • 1/4 cup plain soy milk or soy creamer
  • • 5 vegan chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies, such as Newman-O's, finely mashed, plus 6 of the cookies, cut in half, for garnish


For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin cups with paper or aluminum foil liners.

In a medium bowl or on a large square of waxed paper, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the soy milk and vinegar; set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil and vanilla extract and other extract, if using, and beat until foamy. Add the dry ingredients in 2 increments, and beat until no large lumps remain (a few small lumps are okay). Add the chopped cookies to the batter, stirring just to combine. Spoon the batter into the liner cups, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the shortening and margarine on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, until well combined and fluffy. Reduce speed to low to add the sugar until incorporated, and then increase to medium-high speed to beat for about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and soy milk or creamer; beat on the same speed for 5 to 7 minutes, until fluffy. Add the cookie crumbs, mixing well.

To assemble: Frost the cupcakes generously and top each cupcake with half of a sandwich cookie by inserting the cut end into the frosting. Store in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Recipe Source:

Adapted from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World," by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (Marlowe & Co., 2006).

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