I had the privilege of being invited to make a cake for a special occasion last week. As plans ebb and flow, the cake ultimately turned into a set of mini-cupcakes, which is actually more fun in some ways. I mean, who doesn’t love a little bite-sized fruity confection to pop into your mouth? :)
The one requirement for this was that it be sugar-free. Aside from that, I had the freedom to create them however I wanted. I have a great cake recipe for the base, so I went about making it sugar-free but still delicious. The result? Amazing sugar-free vegan cupcakes!
I’ve experimented with sugar-free sweeteners in the past, with mixed results. I’ve done some great things with xylitol (a sweetener derived from the birch tree), and it’s virtually tasteless. Now that xylitol is becoming more readily available, some manufacturers are going the cheap route and using corn in theirs, so check the label when you buy and make sure that it actually comes from birch.
As for stevia…. I’m really not a stevia girl. I can’t stand the taste of it, or the aftertaste I should say. I’ve heard from some stevia fans that there are some good brands, or that the whole leaf is better than other variations, but it hasn’t worked for me yet. Now when I was getting herbs for my container garden this year, I came across a stevia plant and bought it. When it gets a little bigger, I’ll dry and crush some of the leaves and see how that works. If not, it’s a nice addition to the garden. :)
For the cupcakes that I made last week, I used monkfruit. Monkfruit is an Asian fruit that is dried & powdered for use as a sweetener. It is fairly tasteless, but has a bit of an aftertaste. Definitely not like stevia though. It worked really well for these cupcakes, but I also wanted a nice fruity sweetness, so I filled them with puree from a perfectly-ripe mango.
I’ve been working on perfecting a light and fluffy vegan buttercream and have gotten some amazing results, but those versions usually have a little powdered sugar in them. In order to make this frosting without any sugar, I used a combination of coconut cream and Earth Balance, with just a touch of sweetener added. Combined with the mango filling, they had the perfect amount of natural sweetness.
Sugar-Free Mango Filled Vegan Cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 – 1 cup sugar-free sweetener (monkfruit, xylitol or stevia)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold water
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 – 1 cup fresh mango puree
- 1/2 cup vegan margarine
- 1/2 cup coconut cream, chilled (the thick part at the top of a can of coconut milk)
- 1 tablespoon of sweetener
Combine the cupcake ingredients (mix the dry first, then add in the wet) and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned and baked through. Let cool completely.
Using a small spoon, scoop out a small hole in the top of each cupcake (save the top that you take out). Scoop out some of the extra cake from the hole. Fill with a teaspoon of the mango puree and replace the top.
Using a standing or hand-held mixer, beat the frosting ingredients until fluffy. Spread over the cupcakes.
Makes 12 regular cupcakes or 40 mini-cupcakes.