Recipe of the Week: Crazy Cacao Cupcakes with Cocoa Butter Frosting

Earlier this year, my good friend Audrey was planning a trip to see me. As is our usual custom, we planned on inviting friends over for food and drinks. We talked on the phone a few days beforehand and she said, "Oh, I'm making vegan cupcakes." I was like, "Really?" She said, "Yeah. You're going to love them." I eagerly waited for Audrey to arrive at my house after that, and when she showed up with the cupcakes, I knew I had a winner on my hands. When she told me it was Crazy Cake, my eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. It'd had been a while since I'd last heard that name.

The Crazy Cupcakes before frosting.

Crazy Cake came about during the Depression when eggs and milk were harder to come by. Some genius dreamed up a world where delicious cake could be made without either ingredient. Because of the lack of eggs and milk, these cupcakes are accidentally vegan.

Sorry, this is my best picture of the frosted cupcakes and it still looks terrible. Imagine their deliciousness instead.

I make these regularly now and, man, do they get inhaled quickly - mostly by me. Since I try to eat a bit healthier, I use cacao powder instead of cocoa powder, which gives these cupcakes a decidedly deeper and richer flavor. I also make a "butter" cream frosting using cocoa butter (not to be confused with coconut oil) and it is delicious. The cocoa butter lends a richness to it that vegan butter lacks. Here's how I made them.

Crazy Cacao Cupcakes with Cocoa Butter Frosting

Ingredients for cupcakes:

1.5 c flour
4 T cacao powder*
3/4 c sugar
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t vinegar**
1.5 t vanilla
5 T vegetable oil
1 c water

Ingredients for frosting:

1/2 c cocoa butter, scant***
1 t vanilla
1 T cacao powder
2 c powdered sugar
1-2 T almond milk


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Mix all your dry ingredients for the cupcakes. Then, make three wells in the dry mixture.

3. In each well, you'll put in a different liquid: vinegar, vanilla, and oil.

4. Pour the water over the entire thing and mix well.

5. Distribute evenly between 12 greased muffin tins. You can use or skip muffin liners.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. While the cupcakes are cooling, make your frosting by adding all the ingredients to a bowl and mixing with a mixer - or with a whisk and some elbow grease - until smooth. If the cocoa butter is hard, warm it in a small saucepan over the lowest heat setting until it's just soft enough to be room temperature.

8. Frost your cupcakes and enjoy!


* You can use regular cocoa powder if you want, just up the amount by a tablespoon.

** I use apple cider vinegar in this recipe all the time and it works perfectly fine, but white vinegar is the recommended vinegar for this recipe.

*** Scant just means "not quite" so you're looking to short this amount by about a tablespoon. You can use vegan butter substitute if you prefer, just make sure it's room temperature.

Lastly, if you don't feel like making frosting, many store-bought varieties are accidentally vegan. Also, you can just dust them with some powdered sugar. It's going to be delicious whichever you choose.


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