Someone once read me a quote that describes time as a whirlwind, swirling faster as you move away from the center out towards the edges. Time moves slowest at the center of the whirlwind and this is full of people trying desperately to slow down or hold onto time, mostly young lovers and the parents of young children. As Little Man turns four both Dave and I find ourselves manically flip-flopping between being excited for what this new year will bring (aka let’s please get out of the threes… please…) and sappy nostalgia for the baby that Little Man used to be. Sob!
Right now the excitement for four is winning out, and I can’t wait to see what this new year will bring. To start his fourth year out right we wanted Little Man to be able to bring a special dessert to his day care, but still have it be something we can feel good about him eating. I haven’t written about it yet, but much of last year has been a struggle to figure out if Little Man is dairy/lactose intolerant or not. Many of the recipes that I have been working on recently are dairy-free versions of family favorites. In many cases I’ve been able to simply swap out cow’s milk for almond or coconut milk. In a few examples, the transition hasn’t been that easy. The main thing for this birthday treat, however, was that we wanted it to be something that Little Man would be hugely excited for and that he and his “classmates” would have no idea that the treat they were eating was good for them (or at least not as bad as the refined flour and white sugar versions can be).
Last year Little Man and I brought mini-muffin sized versions of my Banana Chocolate Muffins, which were also one of my first posted recipes for this site (more nostalgia…). This year I wanted to bring it up a notch and make it more cupcakey. The first step was to revamp my previous recipe making it nearly dairy-free. I say “nearly dairy free” since it does have semisweet chocolate chips and those contain milk. If you want truly dairy free you can simply omit the chocolate chips, or use a dairy-free/vegan alternative. I haven’t found one that I’m happy with yet, so standard semi-sweet chocolate chips won out. These muffins, mini or otherwise, are delicious on their own and are treats that I feel good about Little Man eating.
But what really sets these mini muffin/cupcakes apart is the frosting. Oh, the frosting… This frosting is the first thing that I’ve every come across that deserves the phrase “stupid good!” It’s amazing. Four ingredients. 30 second to whip it up. The hardest thing is not devouring the entire bowl before frosting your cupcakes or cake. Seriously… This stuff is ridiculous, and I cannot take a single iota of credit for it. The frosting recipe comes from an amazing blog called Chocolate Covered Katie. I’ve included a link to the Vegan Chocolate Frosting Shots here, as well as in the main recipe below. For Dave and I, we were happy leaving it just barely sweetened with a little powdered sugar, but for the kiddos I added probably about 1/2 cup total of powdered sugar to take the edge off of the bittersweet chocolate goodness that this creates. This “frosting” could be served as a chocolate mousse in a fancy coupe and no one would be the wiser. Seriously, it’s that good. I doubled the recipe to make enough frosting to cover these cupcakes.
OK, back to the awesome cupcakes… Since these cupcakes were for Little Man’s day care buddies, it only seemed fitting that he help me make them. You’ll notice that in the pictures from this recipe are, shall we say… a bit more messy than usual. They often have ingredients all over the counter, with Little Man’s grubby mits sticking out of the bowl at any given time. We had a blast. While I “controlled” the situation enough to make sure that the end product was delicious, I wanted this to be super fun for Little Man. He got to taste the ingredients and saw that flour did not taste good good, while brown sugar was quite tasty. I measured, he dumped, and a good time was had by all. By the time we were spooning batter into the muffin cups, he was pretty done with the whole procedure, but that was fine since the motor skills of filling little muffin cups cleanly is still a bit beyond him.
In terms of planning, I made the cup cakes two days in advance, the frosting the night before, and then frosted and decorated the cakes in the morning before day care. You can certainly frost them the night before, but you would need to either leave them uncovered in the refrigerator or keep them in a container that does not touch their tops. The frosting stays soft to the touch, so plastic wrap won’t be an option. Your hardest hurdle to clear will be not gobbling them up before sending them off to school.
Mini Chocolate Cupcakes (Dairy Free)
4 very ripe bananas
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup silken tofu
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400ºF and line a mini muffin pan with paper liners. A regular muffin pan can be used, but the cupcakes will spread out a bit rather than growing tall.
- In a large bowl add the bananas, oil, tofu, eggs and brown sugar. Beat them on medium high with electric beaters (or a stand mixer) until well combined. There may still be tiny flecks of tofu sprinkled throughout, but that’s fine. It will melt right in.
- In a medium bowl add the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk the ingredients together to combine.
- Gently add the dry ingredients to the wet, being careful to not over mix the batter. Fold in the chocolate chips if using.
- Spoon a couple of teaspoons of batter into the prepared muffin pans.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Decorations: Frost the cupcakes with Vegan Chocolate Frosting, then decorate as whimsy dictates. Sprinkles are always fun, or you could use sugared flowers for an upscale look. Little Man’s birthday party this year is space-themed, so he chose tiny sphere sprinkles since they look like “baby planets.”
Click here for a printable version of the Mini Chocolate Cupcakes (Dairy Free) recipe.