Friday, November 02, 2012

vegan red velvet chocolate chip cupcakes

I do a lot of vegan baking, never intentionally, always because I'm an erratic shopper, and organising my fridge has never been at the top of my priority list. Consequently, I'm often with my head and shoulders in the old ice box, rummaging for just...... one ..... egg..... PLEASE! Just ONE egg!! Or, crossing my fingers as my eyes scan the ingredients list of a recipe, hoping that somehow, there will be one last carton of milk at the back of the pantry cupboard. You know what I mean? Yes, you do ;)

Many think eggs are indispensable in the kitchen and that eggless baking constitutes some sort of kitchen sorcery, only a chosen few can pull off.

The truth is that many baking recipes can forego eggs and turn out as good, in my opinion, better, if the eggs you have are past their prime. Flavours like chocolate, vanilla, berry, citrus, are more intense in cakes baked without eggs.

Not all cakes can do without eggs though. Sugee cake relies on yolks for it's glorious golden colour and richness and sponge cakes and meringues would just collapse without them. Muffins, cupcakes, scones and biscuits, pancakes and cookies though are very forgiving and will give you no grief.

To replace eggs in a recipe, all you need is an equal amount by weight of a dense, moist ingredient like chocolate paste, cornflour based pudding or custard, thick applesauce, fruit puree, peanut butter, chestnut puree, chickpea puree or unseasoned mashed potato.

So, this recipe came about because I had no eggs, no cream cheese, no butter and no dairy milk, but  desperately wanted to make some red velvet cupcakes, something which believe it or not, I have never done before as that much food colouring gives me the heebie jeebies. Curiosity though finally won out. Besides my one attempt at making a lividly red cake with beetroot turned out less than spectacular.

Post Update 5 Nov 2012 : Because of reader feedback, I feel I should say something about the colouring used in this recipe. It's artificial cochineal, which is NOT insect derived, unlike natural cochineal, carmine or E120. So rest assured, this recipe is both vegan and halal. Why use artificial cochineal instead of regular food colouring? Because it's more concentrated and gives a more intense red than regular food colouring, so you use less of it. In Singapore, look for Star Brand Liquid Artificial Cochineal Colour. In some countries, natural cochineal is still an accepted and common food additive, so if you have concerns about whether or not it's bug based, make sure it states "artificial" on the label.

These cup cakes were airy, soft, so moist and rich that frosting seemed an unseemly extravagance. I couldn't  have been happier with the outcome and no one noticed the absence of butter, eggs or frosting. I don't think you will either....


  1. FYI cochineal extract (aka carmine) is made from beetles and although it is natural, and better for you than artificial red food coloring, it is not vegan (depending on ones level of veganism)

    1. I used Star Brand Liquid Artificial Cochineal Colour for this recipe as it is more vivid and concentrated than regular red liquid food colouring, so you need only use 2 - 3 teaspoons of it, instead of half to one bottle or even more, which is not uncommon in red velvet cake recipes.

      I'm not sure if natural cochineal is an allowed food additive in Singapore, but it is near impossible to find and frowned upon because of halal concerns owing to the way the insects are killed before processing. My mistake in assuming that natural cochineal is similarly frowned upon elsewhere. I am not convinced that natural cochineal is a better option than artificial food colouring as it is as highly allergenic as artificial colouring, if not in fact, even more so.

      I don't use the term "vegan" loosely, and to me it has no "levels", unlike vegetarianism. I took pains to ensure this recipe is indeed vegan, down to using maple syrup instead of honey.

      Thank you for your input - I have revised my printable recipe and post, to specify "artificial cochineal" because of it.

  2. I can totally see your head in the ice box rummaging for one-egg-please! These have to be the most glorious red - really truly TWILIGHT RED cupcakes ever! Gorgeous and studded :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

    1. If you were any sweeter Devaki, I'd pour you on my pancakes ;) They are vivid, aren't they? LOL Mission accomplished! And thank you for your always lovely and kind words. Hope you and your family are staying safe and warm.

  3. These turned out beautifully without eggs or dairy and the color is very pretty. You are so right about cakes and cookies being very forgiving sans eggs. I try to do away with eggs or as little of it as possible because of egg intolerance in the family. Sometimes I think the taste is even better without the eggs.

    I have never made red velvet anything. I should give it a try one of these days.

    1. Thanks Biren :) I knew I wasn't imagining it! Sometimes when eggs aren't at the peak of their freshness, they can impart a faintly unpleasant aroma and aftertaste to baked goods that I think only those with sensitive noses and palates will notice. My boys and hubby don't seem to notice it, but then, they LOVE eggs and can't get enough. Me, I tend to give them a wide berth as my nose and taste buds are hypersensitive to them, so I'm always happy when a recipe I baked without eggs turns out very well. When I do use eggs, I will go crazy with the vanilla, chocolate or other flavourings like brandy or citrus zest, to mask the eggy taste. My family thinks I'm bonkers LOLOL

      This is my first attempt at red velvet cake and it tasted like a very light chocolate cake when I nibbled a bit of the crumb that didn't have any chocolate chips. The texture was lovely though - the maple syrup and melted chocolate seem to have made it very moist and tender despite the absence of butter and eggs. Though red velvet cake almost always has cream cheese frosting, I think frosting on these cup cakes would have been too much of a good thing as they were almost fudgy.

  4. Wow the color is fantastic, and they look so moist! Beautiful!


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