I love my local Chinese supermarket. In it I can get all sorts of spices, authentic bean curd, an array of noodles and rice flour at a rock bottom price – try 50p! Seriously, I paid 50 pence for a bag of rice flour, isn’t that insane? There is also a lovely lady who works in there who couldn’t be more helpful and makes shopping an absolute pleasure. Invariably we end up coming home with something unusual like peanut filled rice balls or some crazy paste, it’s always a little bit of a culinary adventure entering that place.

I’ve used rice flour in a few recipes now but I must say this has been my most successful endeavour to date. Although I’ve been striving for that perfect cupcake texture for a long while now none have come remotely close to these – I almost jumped up and down with pleasure when I bit into one; moist, fluffy, crumbly, lush. Nothing beats the feeling of triumphing in the kitchen especially when it comes to baking.

I may have mentioned this a few times already but pre veganism baking was kinda my nemesis. It’s not that I had a string of disasters but the outcome never made me squeal with excitement…..until now. Veganism has not only transformed the way I view food but it has uncovered a new found enthusiasm for baking and unlike before I am usually ecstatic about the results.

It may have a something to do with the fact I can’t stroll down to the local bakery and pick up a cake if the urge takes me. If I want something sweet and indulgent I have to invariably make it myself, which has been a blessing in disguise really because it means we only have supremely naughty treats about once a month. My hips, bum and thighs are ever grateful.

When it came to icing these babies I went for Babycakes style frosting – that is not beautifully piped but swirled using a palate knife with an added PeaSoup mini piped rosette off centre in a contrasting chocolate frosting. My style is probably what you’d call shabby chic and this extends to my cooking and presentation thereof. To me they look more appetizing this way too, that messy swirl makes me want to just sink my teeth into that cupcake instead of one you’d stand back, admire but are afraid to destroy. These cupcakes, on the other hand, were made to be destroyed.

Bonus points for the lack of soy (both in the cake itself and in the frosting) and the sheer effortlessness of which these can be made.

Is it just me or does anyone else have that panic moment right after you’ve filled those cupcake cases and popped them in the oven? Will they rise? Will they explode? Did I overwork the mixture? Did I fill them too much? Too little? Is the oven at the right temperature? Eek!

With regards to these particular cupcakes I can assure you that yes, they will rise (perfectly), no, they won’t explode (unless you mess with the amount of bicarb – not recommended!), fold gently until everything is just combined and cocoa coloured and that way you are guaranteed not to overwork it, fill them half way up and you’re golden and you’ll know if your oven is at the right temperature if you invest in a separate oven themometer (seriously, just buy one, they’re cheap and invaluable when it comes to baking).

If you do all that then these cupcakes will make you weep with happiness and you’ll not be able to resist one for breakfast. I didn’t and it was hmmmm hmmmm gooooood.

Ingredients

3/4 cup rice flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup xylitol or vegan sugar

1/4 tsp pink himalayan salt

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup coconut milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp white wine or cider vinegar (vegan)

1/8 cup oil

Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

Sieve the flour, cocoa, xylitol, salt, bicarb and baking powder into a large bowl. Lightly mix with a spatula to incorporate the ingredients.

Add the water, coconut milk, vanilla extract, oil and vinegar to the dry ingredients and gently fold using a spatula until everything is thoroughly combined. The batter will be fairly thick.

Line a muffin tray with six large cases and fill each one half way. Put immediately into the oven (ensuring it is at 175 celsius/350 fahrenheit).

Bake for 25 minutes. In the last ten minutes I turned the tray around to make sure they were all evenly baked. Insert a skewer into the centre, if it comes out clean they are ready. Allow to cool completely before icing. I let them cool for ten minutes in the tray before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Vanilla Frosting

1/2 cup vegan sunflower spread

2 cups vegan powdered/icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

splash of coconut milk

Combine the sunflower spread and 1 cup of the sugar using a spatula.

Add the vanilla extract, coconut milk and remainder of the icing sugar and whisk until light and fluffy using a balloon whisk. You can use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

For the chocolate icing

Take about a 1/4 cup of the vanilla frosting and combine with a heaped teaspoon of cocoa powder using a spatula.

Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a nozzle of your choosing – I went for a size 30 star effect one.

When the cupcakes are completely cool frost each one with the vanilla frosting using a spatula. Here is a helpful video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtzYFcl6nHw Clearly my frosting skills are nowhere near as good as these gals but I’m getting better. Also, my spatula is way to big to get a good swirl so it’s off to the shops with me to purchase a smaller one – any excuse!

After each one is frosted pipe a little rosette onto each one – off centre looks so much better and cuter in my opinion.

Now you have to eat them:)

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