Decadent chocolate cupcakes, the creamiest peanut butter frosting piled high, finished off with a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce and just a sprinkle of roasted peanuts and dark chocolate. Not the snickers you remember, but one that you’ll certainly be coming back for.
This cupcake came together for one simple reason. I love chocolate, I love peanut butter and I love caramel. You bet I was ready for a recipe on this blog that used all three.
We have talked about homemade vegan caramel before in my sticky date pudding recipe, and we all know the peanut butter and chocolate combo has come up before with these cookies and these brownies. But today, I’m ready to step it up and bring it all together because these might just be one of my favourite cupcake flavours.
Let’s break down the elements so I can talk you through this recipe.
How To Make The Vegan Caramel Sauce
I’m just going to start with my favourite thing. Ever. Seriously this stuff is good! I deviated a bit from my normal coconut caramel sauce in the search for something that tasted a little closer to the full on dairy butter-cream version.
I wanted a silky smooth texture and I wanted to make sure to add enough salt so it wasn’t super sweet, but wasn’t quite ready to change its name to salted caramel. The amount of salt is 100% going to be determined by your tastes, but remember to start with a little and build on it. You can always add more but you can’t come back from too salty!
Making caramel can be a little intimidating, or at least it was for me. But what I realised is that it just takes a little patience and you need to be focused on it. Making caramel is not the time to be multitasking. I would even suggest making the caramel ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about anything else while you are making it. Plus it needs to cool completely before you can drizzle it over your cupcakes.
In a small saucepan, heat your sugar. Give it a bit of a stir, scraping the bottom as it starts to melt. You will get lumps and may even get some crystals, this is ok! Turn the heat down lower and slowly let the sugar melt into a syrup. It will start to turn a golden colour. If it is getting too dark before the sugar has melted, then your heat is too high – turn it down and wait.
Once you have your sugar syrup, add in dairy-free spread and whisk through so it melts. Add in coconut cream and whisk to combine. Let the caramel come to the boil and then let simmer for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes an amber colour and it has thickened. You can just let it go here, you don’t need to be stirring. The mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.
I like to let it cool on the stove top for a bit first before transferring the still warm caramel it into a jar a placing in the fridge to cool completely.
The BEST Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
For the chocolate cupcakes you have seen the recipe before with these vegan rose cupcakes.
I did however make one slight change that seemed to make a huge difference. Instead of adding the vinegar to a 1 cup measuring cup and topping up with the almond milk, I just combined the full 1 cup of almond milk in a small bowl with the tablespoon of vinegar. The result? A lighter cupcake and I got a full 12 cakes out of the batter.
I can’t believe how much that extra tablespoon of liquid affected the end result, but I guess that is one of the reasons I love baking so much, there is a science behind the quantities of ingredients we use.
The Peanut Butter Frosting
I love this peanut butter frosting so much. It is eat out of the bowl with a spoon good. There is no reason not to generously smoother these little chocolate cakes with this frosting because it tastes so so good.
Let’s think back to my peanut butter frosted brownies. Its that same flavour combination that we know works, but I wanted a little more from my peanut butter frosting. So I used my basic buttercream recipe, subbed some of the butter for the peanut butter and got a result I am super happy with and I know I will use again and again.
And finally, because I like things a bit fancy, I topped everything off with a sprinkle of crushed, roasted peanuts and some chopped 80% dark chocolate.
Did I mention these cupcakes happen to be vegan? Not that you would ever tell unless you knew. Make these for your next occasion for everyone to enjoy or just for yourself because it’s a snickers cupcake and yes please!
Vegan ‘Snickers’ Cupcakes
For the Chocolate Cupcakes:
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup plain flour
- 1/2 cup self raising flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
For the Peanut Butter Frosting:
- ¼ cup (60 grams) dairy-free spread
- ½ cup (125 grams) smooth peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons almond milk
- pinch salt optional
For the Vegan Caramel:
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons dairy-free spread
- 200 ml coconut milk
- salt, to taste
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with 12 patty cases.
- In a small bowl combine white vinegar and almond milk. Milk will split which is fine. Set aside.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer, beat canola oil, sugar and vanilla until combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift flours, cocoa powder and baking powder. Slowly add to oil and sugar mixture, alternating with the milk until cupcake batter comes together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Spoon mixture into patty cases ensuring they are only ¾ full before placing them in the oven for 18 minutes or until lightly springy to touch. Let cool completely before frosting.
For the Peanut Butter Frosting
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted, beat dairy-free spread and peanut butter for 1-2 minutes until creamy.
- Add in 2 cups of icing sugar and beat on medium until combined. As mixture thickens, add in vanilla and almond milk. Add in extra icing sugar or almond milk if needed until it reaches the right consistency. Add pinch of salt to taste if frosting is too sweet.
For the Vegan Caramel
- In a small saucepan, heat sugar giving it a stir, scraping the bottom as it starts to melt. You will get lumps and may even get some crystals which is ok, just turn the heat down lower and slowly let the sugar melt into a syrup. It will start to turn a golden colour. If it is getting too dark before the sugar has melted, then your heat is too high - turn it down and wait.
- Once the sugar had melted, add in dairy-free spread and stir through with a whisk until melted. Add in coconut cream and whisk to combine. Let the caramel come to the boil and then let simmer for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes an amber colour and it has thickened. Add salt to taste.
- Take the caramel off the heat and allow to cool. The mixture will continue to thicken until it has cooled completely. Store extra caramel in a airtight jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Assemble the cupcakes. Cut a small hole in the tops of the cupcakes and fill with a small amount of the caramel. Pipe a swirl of peanut butter frosting onto the cakes, or you can just use a knife for a more rustic look. Drizzle more caramel over the top of the frosting and top with a sprinkling of roasted peanuts and chopped dark chocolate if desired.