Stuffy-fluffed Cupcakes

You know ... the ones a hostess might serve. Although these cupcakes take a little bit of effort, they are fun to make and never fail to impress. And they forego not only all the animal ingredients but those extra preservatives that make Twinkies last 25 years or more. You'll find similar recipes many places online; but my variation here is adapted from the recipe that ran in the New York Times, itself adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan with a Vengeance.

1 cup flour
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup soy milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup EarthBalance butter
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
2-1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup soy milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons maple syrup

CUPCAKES: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-muffin pan witih paper liners. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a mixer bowl, combine soil milk, vegetable oil, maple syrup, sugar, vinegar and vanilla. Mix at medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add half of dry ingredients and mix to blend. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix well. Fill cupcake liners and bake 25 to 30 minutes before cooling on rack.

FILLING/FROSTING: In a mixer, beat margarine and shortening until combined. Add powdered sugar and beat until fluffy, 5 minutes or so. Add vanilla and beat 1 minute longer.

CHOCOLATE ICING: In a microwave bowl, place the soy milk, chocolate chips and maple syrup. Melt in microwave for a minute or two; stir and repeat until chocolate is melted enough to blend. Stir to mix well.

ASSEMBLY: Prepare a pastry bag (or simply a plastic zip-loc sandwich bag with a corner snipped) and fill with filling mixture. Use the handle end of a wood spoon to poke a hole into the top of each cooled cupcake. Use the pastry bag to pipe each hole with filling. Wipe off any excess that pokes above the surface. Then dip the tops of each cupcake in the chocolate icing, coating thoroughly. Let set 10 minutes or so and then use the remainder of the filling to pipe a design on the top of each cupcake (if too thin and fluffy to stand, add a little more powdered sugar). Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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