Rich and decadent vegan chocolate cupcakes, that you would never believe are plant based! This easy recipe comes together in one bowl and each moist and flavorful cupcake is topped with swirls of light and fluffy chocolate peanut butter frosting.
Peanut butter desserts have always been a sure way to my husband’s heart.
And Henry also inherited those peanut butter loving genes, so for Valentine’s Day, I’m baking up these chocolate peanut butter cupcakes for my two main guys.
They’re incredibly moist and tender, packed with deep, dark, chocolate flavor, and topped with swirls of lusciously fluffy chocolate peanut butter frosting.
Why you’ll love these peanut butter chocolate cupcakes:
These cupcakes are adapted from my favorite basic chocolate cake, which is in the vein of a “depression” cake, traditionally made without eggs, milk, or butter, which were pricey or hard to source at the time.
As a result, these intensely decadent cupcakes also happen to be vegan (which I love because of our little guy’s egg allergy). But I promise that you’d never, ever guess it. We’re not sacrificing anything in the flavor or texture department, quite the opposite. These plant based babes are just as rich and indulgent as their traditional counterparts.
And unlike many vegan baking recipes, there’s no egg replacement needed – no flax, or chia, or specialty powders. We simply rely on a splash of apple cider vinegar to react with baking soda and the acidity of the other ingredients for our leavening. Just like the classic grade school volcano science project!
Here are the simple ingredients that you’ll need:
- All-purpose flour
- Cocoa powder
- Cane sugar
- Brown sugar
- Baking soda
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil
- Water or coffee
- Vanilla extract
- Apple cider vinegar
Another reason to love these easy chocolate cupcakes? The batter doesn’t require a mixer, and comes together in minutes in one big mixing bowl. You’ll have to wash even less dishes if you use a kitchen scale.
I do like to use my stand mixer for the frosting, which makes for light and fluffy swirls (with a lot less elbow grease), but overall, these cupcakes are super easy to make, and delicious to boot.
How to make vegan chocolate cupcakes:
We start with the dry ingredients, whisking together all-purpose flour, Dutch-processed cocoa powder, baking soda, cane sugar, light brown sugar, and salt, until combined. The olive oil, water (or coffee), and vanilla follow, before finally, the apple cider vinegar is whisked in as well.
The vinegar reacts with the baking soda and other acidic ingredients, frothing and lightening in color as it’s mixed in. This helps to provide a boost in leavening power that traditionally eggs might supply.
Once smooth and completely combined, we divide the batter between 16 muffin cups, each about 2/3 full. It will be thin, but don’t worry, the oven will work its magic. The cupcakes will rise beautifully, emerging with gently domed tops (perfect for piling high with frosting), a moist and tender crumb, and incredibly intense chocolate flavor.
And for the frosting…
While the cupcakes are cooling, it’s time to whip up the peanut butter chocolate buttercream. Now, this is when it is helpful to bust out a stand mixer. It also pays off to be patient, beating the buttercream until it’s not just combined, but light and fluffy, thanks to aeration. To ensure the best texture, this will take several minutes on medium-high speed.
For supreme chocolate flavor, we’re using both melted dark chocolate and cocoa powder. That combines with room-temperature butter, creamy peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and a splash of milk. The result: a dreamy, flavorful frosting that’s a match made in heaven for our dark chocolate cupcakes.
And, in the spirit of Valentine’s day, I popped some sweet chocolate peanut butter hearts on top. You can also decorate with chocolate sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, or miniature peanut butter cups (I love the dark chocolate ones from Trader Joe’s).