Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Vegan Ding Dong Cupcakes

I love my neighbor Mary.  Seven years ago I was in my new kitchen getting unpacked, the house full of three moving men, three children, three pets and Willie. The door bell rang and I didn't even try to answer it. I knew someone else would, so I kept to my futile attempts at organizing chaos. A few minutes later I turned to my right and there appeared a bag of cookies marked Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies and a lovely note welcoming our family to the neighborhood. I thought, "how lovely, how special, how amazing that my new neighbor would go to the time and expense of making us an organic treat!" As I would come to know over the years, that's just Mary. Lovely, special, and amazing! 

I've been trying to find something that Mary would find special and I think these fit the bill. Whether you are a Ding Dong fan (like me) or not, whether you are a vegan (like Mary) or not, you will find these delicious. Make them for yourself, make them for your friends, make them for a new neighbor, but definitely make them!

Vegan Ding Dong Cupcakes
by Sandra

Chocolate Cupcakes:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold coffee
1/2 cup canola oil
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

"Cream" Filling:
1 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Up to 5 Tablespoons almond milk (or soy or rice milk)

Chocolate Ganache:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (non-dairy)
1/4 cup canned coconut milk, mixed well before meausuring
1 Tablespoon canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare the cupcake pan(s) with liners.* Yield: 12-14 cupcakes.

Mix all dry ingredients together in one bowl and wet ingredients in another. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined. Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

In a clean bowl, beat the shortening until there are no lumps. Scrape down the sides and then add the sugar and vanilla and mix at increasing speeds until combined. Reduce speed to low and add almond milk 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is light and sort of marshmallow-y. Prepare a piping bag with a long narrow tip, like a Bismarck tip, and fill it with the "cream". Insert the tip into the center of each cupcake and press in the cream. The cakes are light and airy so there is no need to scoop out any of the cake.

Place the chocolate chips and the coconut milk in a Pyrex bowl and stir. Put in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until all chocolate is melted and smooth. Quickly whisk in the canola oil. Dip your "cream" filled cupcakes upside down into the chocolate ganache and then let set. 

These cupcakes can be made the day before serving and refrigerated or frozen if you need to make them further ahead of time. Let them come to room temperature before serving for the "cream" filling to be at it's best consistency. They will taste just as delicious as the day you made them.

*If you want to make Ding Dongs instead of cupcakes, instead of baking in a cupcake pan, use two 9-inch cake pans lined with parchment paper. Prepare as indicated, but divide
the chocolate cake batter between the two pans and bake for 16-20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, remove cake from pans and cool completely. Cut cake with biscuit cutters. Place one cake on top of another cake so that all of your Ding Dongs are two cake high. Yield: 8 Ding Dongs. Mine were not pretty, as you can see from this photo. But they were delicious! And they were eaten within an hour!

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