Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Fluffy Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Two chocolate cupcakes on a plate with a bowl of fluffy chocolate ganache frosting on the side

Super moist, tender, vegan chocolate cupcakes with intense chocolate flavor in every bite! These cupcakes are easily made with pantry staples and no one will miss the eggs or dairy! Topped with a decadent, fluffy chocolate ganache frosting, these double chocolate cupcakes are nothing short of indulgent!

This is my go-to recipe for simple, delicious, no-fail vegan chocolate cupcakes . It’s an adaptation of my Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Espresso Buttercream and my Chocolate Bundt Cake with Salted Peanut Butter Glaze. I’ve been making these recipes for years, from my wedding cake to cakes and cupcakes at a farmer’s market to fundraisers. The treats get compliments whenever they’re served, and most of the time they’re served to non-vegans which is the ultimate test!

Unfrosted cupcake bases on a cooling rack, view from above

Tips for Perfect Vegan Chocolate Cupcake Bases:

Sift! Sifting is a must to avoid bitter lumps of cocoa powder and other dry ingredients in your cupcakes. You might be surprised at how much doesn’t get through the sifter and could have ended up in your cupcakes. Use the back of a spoon to break up the lumps so they sift through.

Don’t reduce the amount of sugar or the oil – these are both very important for the structure and texture of the cupcakes. Reducing them or substituting with other ingredients will effect the quality and moist character of the cupcakes.

Coffee has a magical way of enhancing the chocolate flavor without imparting any actual coffee flavor on the cupcakes. If you prefer not to use caffeinated liquid, you can use hot decaf or even hot water. The hot liquid gets the chocolate to bloom further intensifying the chocolate flavor!

Vinegar might not be something you’re used to seeing in a cupcake recipe, but it’s one of the best ingredients in vegan baking! Consider the popularity of sour cream or buttermilk in traditional baking – it’s the acidity from these products that help create a tender, moist crumb. And I promise you can’t taste any vinegar in the cupcakes!

Don’t overfill your cupcake liners! Cupcake bases look the best when they just peak over the paper liner. If the liners are overfilled, the bases will look a bit like wonky mushrooms and stick to the baking tray, or sink in the middle during baking. Fill with batter just until the liners are about 2/3 full.

Close up of a single unfrosted cupcake base in a frilly cupcake liner

Tips for Perfect Vegan Fluffy Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Chocolate ganache might sound a little fancy but it’s one of the easiest sweet treats to make and takes only two ingredients: a creamy base and chocolate! Simmer the coconut cream, and then whisk in the chocolate until it’s melted. Keep stirring until you’ve created a luscious, smooth ganache. So easy! Once it’s cooled, we whip it with vegan butter and confectioner’s sugar into a fluffy, rich frosting.

A tray of 6 frosted chocolate cupcakes with whipped chocoalte ganache frsoting

Use Heavy Coconut Cream

Depending on what you’re making, different liquid bases can be used in ganache. For a drip on a cake, for example, something thinner like plant-based milk can work. In this case though, where we want something that whips up fluffy and light, a heavier base is necessary. Enter: full-fat (heavy) coconut cream!

The fat content is important when whipping the ganache. Think of whipped coconut cream – we’re going for something similar but with lots of chocolate! This is an indulgent treat, set let’s get on our stretchy pants and just enjoy a cupcake!

If you can’t find cans of coconut cream, you can use cans of coconut milk and simply remove the cream, saving the coconut water for another use. The easiest way to do this is to refrigerate the can for a day, then carefully scoop out the cream. Be sure to check the label – we don’t want any gums or emulsifiers in there which keeps the fat and water together. The ingredient list should be simple: coconut cream, or coconut cream and water.

What Kind of Chocolate to Use?

As one of the two stars in the ganache, the chocolate should be really good on its own. This is what you will taste the most in the frosting! The flavor of the coconut cream is somewhat masked by the chocolate, and does not stand out. You can use good quality chocolate chips or chopped bars of chocolate. Avoid chocolate with long ingredient lists or that feels a bit waxy when you chew it.

Ratios of cream to chocolate vary depending on how thick you’d like the ganache to be. For this recipe, we want things thick and rich! We use equal amounts (by weight) of the coconut cream and chocolate. Anything less, and we’d end up with a less fluffy frosting.

Whipping the Ganache into Frosting

Once the ganache is made and cooled, we start whipping! The ganache is whipped with vegan butter and confectioner’s sugar. Use vegan butter sticks which contain less water than tub-style vegan butters. The frosting can be made with shortening (which is more heat stable) if desired, or even half shortening and half vegan butter sticks, if you’re trying to create a frosting that will hold up in the heat a little better.

Depending on how sweet the chocolate is to start with, you may chose to use more or less of the confectioner’s sugar listed in the recipe. Test as you go, it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it!

This recipe makes enough frosting to pipe a modest amount on 18 cupcakes. If you want to go all out and pipe tall frosting on the cupcakes, double the recipe for the frosting. You may then have some leftovers. Save the rest for another use (think: adding to steamed plant-based milk for hot chocolate, decorating a cake, or adding into homemade truffles!) The ganache can also be thinned with a bit of hot coconut cream, cooled to room temperature and then drizzled over the frosted cupcakes.

4 frosted chocolate cupcakes drizzled with chocolate ganache and chocolate shavings

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

The vegan chocolate cupcakes and whipped ganache frosting can be made ahead of time. You can bake the cupcakes the day before, seal tightly at room temperature and then frost them. The bases also hold up well when sealed tightly and frozen for up to a month.

The frosting can be made up to 3 days ahead of time, and stored in a tightly sealed container in the fridge. Set it out on the counter for 30 minutes to soften, then re-whip and frost the cupcake bases.

It’s best to frost the cupcakes within a couple of hours of serving them so they are as moist and fresh as possible.

If your kitchen or home is hot, pop the cupcakes in the fridge once they’re frosted. This frosting is not stable in the heat, and will soften considerably. By the same token, the frosting firms up a lot after being in the fridge for even 20 minutes so let them sit out a few minutes to soften before serving. All that said, cupcake bases tend to dry out in the fridge if stored there more than a day.

Frosted cupcakes can be frozen, too if stored in a tightly sealed container. To defrost, transfer them to the fridge for a few hours and then bring them to room temperature before serving.

Tray of frosted chocolate cupcakes with chocolate shavings and a jug of plant-based milk

If you try this recipe, be sure to let me know in the comments below and give it a rating in the recipe card! I love connecting on Instagram where you can tag me in your creations using my recipes. You can follow along with me on Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for reading along!

Two chocolate cupcakes on a plate with a bowl of fluffy chocolate ganache frosting on the side

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Fluffy Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Super moist, tender chocolate cupcakes with intense chocolate flavor in
every bite! These cupcakes are easily made with pantry staples and no
one will miss the eggs or dairy! Topped with a decadent, fluffy
chocolate ganache frosting, these double chocolate cupcakes are nothing
short of indulgent!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin
Course: Cupcakes, Dessert
Cuisine: American, Vegan
Keyword: Ganache, Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes, Vegan Chocolate Icing
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Cooling Ganache: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 42 minutes
Servings: 18 standard cupcakes
Calories: 437kcal
Author: Crumbs & Caramel

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil (e.g. avocado, canola, etc)
  • 2 tbsp white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup hot coffee

For the Fluffy Chocolate Ganache Buttercream:

  • 200 ml coconut cream*
  • 200 g good quality vegan chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter** (baking sticks, not tub style), room temperature
  • 11/2-2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • chocolate shavings, for garnish

Instructions

For the Cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup and 6-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and baking soda together, whisking to blend.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the plant-based milk, coffee, oil, vinegar and vanilla extract. Add this to the flour mixture and whisk just until combined. Do not overmix.
  • Fill the paper liners about 2/3 full with the cupcake batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few cooked crumbs. Cool the bases in the tray for 5-10 minutes and then transfer each cupcake to a cooling rack. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

For the Whipped Chocolate Ganache Buttercream:

  • Heat the coconut cream in a small saucepan until steaming but not boiling. Stir in the chocolate, and whisk until melted and the ganache is smooth and shiny. Set aside until it comes to room temperature, about an hour.
  • In a large bowl with beaters, or in the bowl of a stand mixer with a balloon whisk attachment, beat the vegan butter. Scrape down the sides occasionally. Add in the chocolate ganache and beat for 3-4 minutes. Stop the mixer and add 1.5 cups of the confectioner's sugar, beating for 2-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Taste and check consistency, adding more confectioner's sugar if a sweeter and stiffer frosting is desired. Beat for 2-3 minutes after each addition.
  • Frost cooled cupcake bases, and garnish with chocolate shavings if desired. Serve immediately. If your home is hot, keep leftovers refrigerated. Remove from refrigerator to sit at room temperature 10-15 minutes before serving so frosting can soften.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 437kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 177mg | Potassium: 141mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 55g | Vitamin A: 0.4% | Vitamin C: 0.4% | Calcium: 4.6% | Iron: 11.5%

Notes:

*If you can’t find cans of coconut cream, you can use cans of coconut milk and simply remove the cream, saving the coconut water for another use. The easiest way to do this is to refrigerate the can for a day, then carefully scoop out the cream. Be sure to check the label – we don’t want any gums or emulsifiers in there which keeps the fat and water together. The ingredient list should be simple: coconut cream, or coconut cream and water.
**Use vegan butter sticks which contain less water than tub-style vegan butters. The frosting can be made with shortening (which is more heat stable) if desired, or even half shortening and half vegan butter sticks, if you’re trying to create a frosting that will hold up in the heat a little better. 
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Vegan Coconut Cream Cupcake with the cupcake liner being removed

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