Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes + Salted Caramel Frosting

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I don’t make things like this very often any more. But my hubby turned 50 last week and well, the man deserved a decent dessert to celebrate his big day. We spent his birthday weekend hiking and listening to live music in and around San Antonio. If you go, I recommend Government Canyon for some outdoor time. Beautiful scenery and well marked trails. For the music part, we went to Floore’s Country Store in Helotes and the iconic honkytonk, Gruene Hall in Gruene. Both are so fun and very Texas-y!

Ah, back to the cupcakes. I adapted a recipe from Chloe Coscarelli’s new cookbook: Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen – which is an awesome book, btw. Her recipe is Raspberry Tiramisu Cupcakes and what I made is nothing like it. I will try out the full recipe at some point, but what I had in mind was a little more scaled back.  So I just made the vanilla cupcake portion of the recipe and it is perfect. Tasty. Moist. Light. Perfect.

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I decided a salted caramel frosting would be just the thing for the birthday boy. Who doesn’t like salted caramel? I mean, really? I found a recipe on a website that seemed just right and gave it a try. Man, am I glad I did that. Awesome. It came from treehugger.com. It’s so easy and it works. And best of all, the birthday boy loved it. 🙂

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Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes + Salted Caramel Frosting

Makes 12

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup canola oil

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Salted Caramel Frosting (see recipe)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk almond milk, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Pour wet mixture into flour mixture and whisk until combined. Do not overmix – there may be a few small lumps.

Divide batter among cupcake liners using an ice cream scoop, if you have one. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean and dry. Let cupcakes cool completely.

Salted Caramel Frosting

1/4 cup vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup dark brown organic sugar (packed)
1/8-1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/8 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar

Fleur de sel, for sprinkling on top (I used Maldon)

Heat a saucepan over medium-low heat and melt the vegan margarine. Add the dark brown sugar, 1/8 cup (or 2 Tbsp) almond milk and sea salt. Whisk together, and allow it to come to a high simmer. Reduce heat to low and let the mixture cook for three to four minutes, then remove from heat. Add the vanilla, stir, and pour into a large mixing bowl. Let it cool to room temperature.

Once the caramel mixture has cooled, add some of the powdered sugar and mix on low speed. Slowly add in the remaining powdered sugar a little at a time. Mix until desired thickness, adding more milk a Tbsp at a time if needed.  Use a pastry bag (or a butter knife) to frost the cupcakes. Sprinkle the top with flaked sea salt and serve.

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