What seems like a reasonably easy task now wasn’t as easy six years ago. Vegan butter options were extremely limited and the aftertaste left much to be desired. Still, that was the ask and I was up for the challenge.
My research led to the understanding, along with some trial and error, that both butter and eggs could be replaced in a cake recipe with avocado. Not just eggs and not just butter could be replaced with avocado, but both. Perfect!
But what about that green avocado color? How could I hide it?
But what about the frosting? I couldn’t get past the aftertaste in vegan buttercream. But my research turned up an interesting find.
An avocado mascarpone frosting led to an epiphany. While mascarpone couldn’t be used in a vegan recipe, avocado did replace butter in the cake. So why not the frosting?
I decided to add a unique flavor profile to the chocolate cake recipe to complement the avocado frosting. If I was going to go for it, I was going to go all in.
Then I had to test the frostings. I brought the vegan chocolate spice cupcake to a movie with a friend with both vegan buttercream and avocado frosting on the side. I told her not to try the frostings in front of me, but just let me know which she liked better.
Start by preparing ingredients for the cake recipe. Because the avocado is taking the place of the butter and eggs, you want to make sure not to add too much moisture by using a massive avocado. Otherwise your cupcakes may flatten once they come out of the oven. On the other hand, if you’re using those baby avocados from Trader Joe’s, you’ll need to use two.
Make sure you have avocados on hand for the frosting as well. This green fruit makes up for the lack of creamy dairy products with its rich and smooth texture. A flour sifter is also very important to have for this part, as it strains out lumps in the powdered sugar and makes for a creamier frosting.
Cream avocado in a bowl until it has the texture of softened butter. Afterwards you will add sugar, water, and vinegar and combine with the creamed avocado.
Once all ingredients are completely incorporated, fold in the dry mixture of flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and seasonings.
Add generous scoops of batter to a cupcake pan lined with wrappers. Make sure to fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way in order to avoid batter spilling over the edges.
After filling up your cupcake pan, stick it into the oven for 20-23 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also check their doneness by sticking a toothpick into the centermost cupcake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is fully cooked.
Once your cakes are done baking, you can move onto the frosting. Once again, cream the avocado in a bowl until it reaches the consistency of room-temperature butter.
After creaming the avocado, sift powdered sugar into the bowl and incorporate using a hand mixer. Frosting should be thick enough to sit on cupcake without melting down the sides. A good way to test the thickness is by checking that stiff peaks of frosting form on the paddles.
Prepare frosting by spooning it into a piping bag or Ziploc bag. Keep the mixture refrigerated until the cupcakes are completely cooled and ready to be frosted.
Note: If you prefer spreading frosting on with a spatula, cover and refrigerate frosting until you are ready to top your cupcakes.
Taco and Piñata Cupcake Toppers
2 cups pre-made fondant
Light beige, dark brown, red, yellow and green food coloring
1 empty egg carton
Piñata cookie cutter
1. Separate white fondant into five different pieces, one slightly larger than the rest.
2. Add food or gel coloring to each section of fondant and blend in.
Light beige for tortillas (the largest piece)
Dark brown for carne asada
Red for tomatoes
Yellow (with a tiny hint of red) for cheese
Green for lettuce
3. Roll out fondant into flat sheets using rolling pin. Use powdered sugar to coat pin and counter so it doesn’t stick.
4. Cut the tortillas with a small circle cutter, a little larger than a quarter.
5. Using the bottom of an egg carton, fold tortilla circles to form a taco shell shape. Allow them to dry.
6. While your taco shells dry, move on to creating the piñata cutouts.
7. Flatten your red, yellow and green fondant.
8. Cut thin strips of each color, roughly a quarter-inch thick.
9. Stack the colored strips on top of each other, in alternating rotations, to create a striped pattern.
10. Once your stack is complete, turn it on its side and roll flat. Your lines won’t be perfect, but that’s OK.
11. Cut out the shapes using your piñata cookie cutter. (you can also use another festive shape like a cactus, guitar or sombrero if you prefer).
12. With the scraps, use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut your taco ingredients into small pieces. I did thin slices of cheese and lettuce with squares as diced tomatoes. For the dark brown fondant, I used the pizza wheel to just go back and forth, in no particular pattern, to create textured pieces of meat.
13. It’s best to fill the taco shells before moving them onto the cupcakes so the toppings don’t end up all over the frosting.
Tip: Use a paint brush to drop a few tiny drops of vodka on the fondant items in the taco shell. It should help bind them together so they’re less likely to fall out of the shell.