Disclaimer: These cupcakes are only half vegan! The frosting is NOT vegan. But it's delicious, and this chocolate cupcake recipe is the absolute best I've ever eaten.
They're cute, right? Almost like little ice cream swirls.
This recipe is very unique. Start with the dry ingredients and mix them together a bit in the bowl. I don't sift them, I've never thought it was necessary but feel free to if you have the time and patience.
Here's the secret ingredient!! VINEGAR. Crazy, right? Just a tiny bit will do.
Add the wet ingredients (water, oil, vinegar).
And mix until smooth, chocolately and delicious.
For these mini cupcakes I used a 1 T measuring cup to scoop them into liners. This makes them a bit more uniform (hopefully) so that they bake nicely.
...While it was a nice theory, they didn't end up very equal and I was three cupcakes short of a full pan. Whoops!
Bake at 350. Be careful not to over bake, once these crack they can dry out pretty easily and stick to the liners. As soon as you can touch a cupcake and it springs up against your finger, they're done.
Now for the meringue!
Lay out everything you're going to use, because meringue is very picky and doesn't like water or oil.
Take some lemon juice on a paper towel and rub down anything you're going to use (the bowl, spoon, mixer, etc.).
And don't forget to check on the cupcakes! Looks like they're almost done.
Perfect. Except for the missing three. Whoops!
So here's your non-vegan part. Start separating your eggs into egg yolks and egg whites. I just break the shell and transfer the egg in between the two until you're left with only the yolk.
Add your sugar.
Keep checking your thermometer for that perfect temperature. This ensures that the meringue isn't grainy and the sugar dissolves completely.
It'll start getting foamy.
And eventually will become white and frothy.
Take it off the stove (carefully, that steam is hot!) and over to your mixer.
Mix for 5-10 minutes and you should start seeing the meringue thicken and form "soft peaks" which just means that when you take out the beaters you can see peaks of stiff meringue.
Next, you're supposed to add cubes of butter slowly while mixing. This is where things go dreadfully wrong.
See how soupy and thin it became?
So for my chocolate frosting I added some cocoa powder.
Which somehow made it THINNER.
And then it began to separate. Ohh dear.
The more I tried, the worse it got. I trued more butter, keeping the frosting in the fridge, really any and every internet tip and trick that there was, but nothing worked. Blogs just kept promising me that if you kept mixing it would all come together. I mixed this frosting for probably 45 minutes and it only got progressively worse and worse.
I decided to refrigerate it overnight and come back the next day. And it was completely separated with a layer of liquid and a layer of curdled frosting. I dumped out some of the liquid and tried whipping the frosting more.
To no avail.
This frosting tasted so good, but was just such a a mess. So frustrating.
We ended up putting a cupcake in a bowl and pouring this frosting over it--it was that good and that runny.
So round two: I decided to go back to that beautiful meringue.
I always thought meringue tasted like Styrofoam, but let me tell you, this meringue I could eat with a spoon. It is so good, you have to try it. And it is a lot easier to make than it seems.
For some reason I still thought I could maybe salvage that yummy chocolate frosting. I decided to frost the majority of the cupcakes with the beautiful meringue and use whatever was left over to mix into the chocolate disaster and see what happened.
The meringue held up beautifully and was so light and silky on the decadent chocolate cupcake. It was a perfect pairing.
They really look like soft-serve ice cream cones.
I went a little crazy on the frosting-to-cupcake ratio, but the meringue was just so good and light that I couldn't resist.
You have to try these! They are more than worth it, despite any reservations you may have about breaking out a candy thermometer, which yes, can be quite terrifying. Seriously, it's so worth it.
So what happened to the chocolate you ask? While it does look much thicker than before...
...here's the difference when frosted. Yikes! Both were equally delicious though. Not quite sure what went wrong with the Swiss meringue recipe. Any thoughts/ideas? The meringue by itself was so good that I might just stick with that from now on, but I'm really curious how this beautiful thick meringue was so easily ruined. Hmm...