So during the Superbowl (that I was not impressed at all with, Go Pats!). I decided to experiment on my two favorite people who will eat just about anything. My lovely husband and my very good asian male friend. Both will eat vegan food without any fuss. My husband because he will eat anything, and in bulk. My friend because he grew up in a Chinese family where “vegan” isn’t a foreign or scary but very normal and part of the culture. That being said I decided I would make a chocolate cherry cupcake that was half homemade. Basically an adaptation of the boxed variety. I also figured this could be a great treat for potlucks, birthdays, and the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday!
So I got to work looking for a good boxed brownie mix that was vegan. I found Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix which is really just brownie mix with chocolate chips and that seemed perfect. The reason I say that is because a.) the chocolate chips in the mix were vegan and B.) generally if chocolate cake/brownie mixes do not have chips in them I will add them to add a light flavor mask over any vegetables I toss in and their potential after taste. That being said… enter pumpkin. I know you can add a can of pumpkin to cake mix in lieu of oil/water/eggs but brownies I always hear “add black beans and puree them”. This has never sat well with me as I am part mexican and think refried beans don’t go with my dessert they only touch chocolate in mole, so I went back to my trusty canned pumpkin. Also let me note that you should NEVER add the egg replacer powder with your oil/water to brownie mixes the batter will separate during baking and you will be left with a rubbery batter covered in an oil slick. Oh and my husband will still eat it FYI.
So I added pumpkin to my brownie mix and then stirred forever. Once combined I placed batter equally in 12 paper cups in a cupcake pan. I then microwaved bagged frozen cherries from Whole Foods and placed one squished down in the center of each cupcake. They will be a little runny but that is totally ok. Then I covered half the cherries with a little more batter and half I left exposed. This was just to see what was a better method. Both came out fine so it is really up to you! I liked the batter topped a little better because it seemed like a hidden treasure but the exposed cherry is aesthetically more pleasing unfrosted. I then baked it according to the pan brownie suggestions on the box.
Ingredients: Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix, (1) Can pumpkin, Whole Foods Frozen whole cherries, Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting, Sliced Raw Almonds, Vegan Chocolate Chips (12chips).
Instructions: Add canned pumpkin to mix. Stir. Place in cupcake papers inside cupcake pan. Add defrosted cherries to center. Bake at 325degrees for about 40minutes. Take out. Let cool. Add frosting a sprinkle of almonds and one chocolate chip!
The end result. They came out so yummy! They are better cooled however. Gives the cherry juice a chance to settle into the cake.
They were lighter than a fudgy brownie but more dense than a box made cupcake. I thought they were perfect. I added a dollop of vanilla frosting (Betty Crocker from the aerosol decorator can) and then sprinkled with raw sliced almonds and one vegan semisweet chocolate chip. However for Valentine’s Day I am thinking red sparkly sprinkles and a heart-shaped dollop or maybe a blue frosting heart? Any suggestions?
Well anyway the almonds are the perfect addition. I am actually thinking I may add a shake of almond extract to the batter next time to increase that sweet cherry flavor. I will tell you all how it “pans” out 😉 … pun intended!
Happy Valentine’s Day folks! Enjoy the chocolatey love with your sweet!
XOXOX, The Hippie Gypsy