Vegan Love: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Rich Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Have you ever tried a vegan cupcake? True, I don’t typically practice Veganism (abstaining from the use of animal products) in my day to day life, but I am a baker who loves nothing more than trying new things. And since there are many who do choose this lifestyle, I love having vegan options in my baking repertoire. As you may guess though, making a rich and lovely cupcake with no eggs, butter, or milk is a bit of a challenge, or at least you would likely expect it to be. The truth is, had I not been the one who made these cupcakes, I would honestly never guess that they were dairy and egg free, because they are perfectly decadent. You know me–it has to be super yummy for me to share it with you!

The seemingly random need to share a vegan recipe with came from a vegan chocolate cake recipe I found in an inspiring new baking book I have, called Tea with Bea: Recipes from Bea’s of Bloomsbury. Now this book isn’t a vegan baking book, but rather a gorgeous collection of cakes and other baked goods from Bea’s of Bloomsbury in the UK (think vanilla coconut cake with lemon curd & cheesecake filling, gingerbread Guinness cake with poached pears & cream cheese icing and more). Among of all the delightful recipes in this book, I noticed that Bea explains that the vegan chocolate cake is so good that many customers don’t even realize it’s vegan. How could I possibly resist?

I thought I would make this recipe in cupcake form and try out a vegan chocolate frosting recipe. For the cake, Bea was right–you would honestly never know it’s vegan, and with ingredients like sunflower oil, red wine vinegar, and soy milk, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I stuck with a high quality, extra dark cocoa powder, because I knew that regardless of everything else in it, I wanted the intense and pleasing chocolate taste to be dominant. Both taste and texture went way beyond my expectations, truly (particularly the cake texture–so incredibly moist). As for vegan chocolate frosting, well I knew this was going to be interesting since butter is the base for most cupcake frostings I love, and I knew I wanted this frosting to deliver some serious chocolaty richness.

So . . . let’s keep an open mind when I tell you that it’s made with dark chocolate, icing sugar, vanilla, almond milk and…Vegan, non-hydrogenated, omega-3 margarine (gasp!). It’s made by Becel, has no Trans fats, and is primarily made of canola & sunflower oils, but also has vitamin E, vitamin A, beta carotene and more. I know, trust me, I know–the thought of margarine can turn us off, but honestly, margarine has come a long, long way since we may have last checked in. I’m not a margarine expert, but I was very comfortable whipping this into a dark chocolate frosting and, most importantly, indulging in it. Guys it tasted pretty darn fabulous (by now you know I would never steer you wrong, right?).

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

The cupcakes don’t need sprinkles, because they really are that good, but if you’re like me and you can’t resist the urge to sprinkle your cupcakes, just keep in mind that, if you need the cupcakes to be completely vegan most sprinkles, quins and dragees aren’t vegan. You can find a few brands out there that are indeed vegan, such as some India Tree products, or I used some real dark chocolate sprinkles from De Ruijter, because they were as close to vegan I had (no animal ingredients in the list, but a mention of possible traces of milk). Since I was just making them for us, I was okay with that, but you would definitely want to triple check if you needed them to be completely vegan. Another option is to use a few berries as decoration, dark chocolates, sugar, or any other small vegan confection you can think of.

Trust me, whether you’re vegan or not, these cupcakes are frickin’ yummy.

Vegan Love: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Rich Chocolate Frosting


    For the Cupcakes:
  • 275 g/2 cups plain/all-purpose flour
  • 100 g/3/4 cup natural cocoa powder (such as Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 450 ml/1-3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 320 g/ 1-2/3 cups caster/superfine sugar
  • 320 ml/1-1/4 cups sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vanilla extract
  • For the Frosting:
  • 1 cup (227 g/8 oz) Vegan, non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 1 cup (125 g/4 oz) icing sugar (confectioners’ or powdered)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 5 oz (145 g) quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) almond or soy milk
  • pinch of salt


    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F) Gas 4. Put the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Sift twice.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla extract. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until well combined.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for 40-55 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached, and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly instead of sink. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Slide a table knife all around the edge to loosen the cake, then remove from the pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.
  5. For the Frosting:
  6. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and margarine and beat on low speed, about 1 minute.
  7. Add vanilla and beat on low until well combined. Add the melted & cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add almond milk and salt, and beat on medium speed for another minute.

[vegan chocolate cake recipe shared with permission, from the book Tea With Bea]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • The Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe from the book (Tea with Bea) is for a 9″ cake, but I decided to make cupcakes–if you opt for cupcakes, baking time is approximately 18-20 minutes (this can vary depending on your oven, but start to check them around 18 minutes). Once removed from oven, carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan to cool on a wire rack.
  • You can divide the cake recipe in 1/2 for 12 cupcakes.
  • If you do bake the cake in a round pan, rather than cupcakes, you could split the batter into two 9″ round pans, rather than baking one taller 9″ layer that would later need to be split.
  • If you don’t have superfine sugar, you can simply put your granulated sugar through the food processor for a few pulses.
  • I always use Nielsen-Massey Vanilla for my baking. For this recipe I also used Callebaut Dark Callets 70.4 % )
  • If frosting is too thick, add more almond or soy milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached; if too runny, add a small amount of icing sugar until desired consistency is reached. Frosting thickens as it sets.
  • Store frosted cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days (just ate one on day 3, and it rocked).
  • Be careful with sprinkles–only specific brands are vegan (if you are making these for someone who is vegan, you will need to watch for common sprinkle ingredients such as gelatine, milk, egg whites, etc)
  • These cupcakes & frosting are also perfect for anyone who chooses to eat lactose-free.
  • For even more fabulous vegan cupcake ideas, check out Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule (thanks, Amy for reminding me about this book in your post comment)

Good luck & enjoy!


Share the Sweetness!


  1. says

    I received Tea with Bea for Christmas and just adore it. Isnt the photography amazing? I’m dying to make a few recipes and this one has piqued my interest. Thanks for the review!

  2. Vivianne says

    While I love the idea of this, and personally, am not a vegan, isn’t chocolate typically a non-vegan product since it contains dairy? Or am I wrong?

  3. JayJay says

    Mmm… They look divine… But I am just wondering about the first sentence under the third picture- the cupcakes don’t need cupcakes?
    Well, it doesn’t much matter now, I know I need some cupcakes!
    Thanks for sharing!

      • JayJay says

        Thanks for sharing!
        This recipie is also great for a severely lactose intolerant friend of mine with an upcoming birthday! Thank you so much, what a proud time for us Canadian bakers with a wonderful blog like yours being so famous….
        I made these cupcakes today and they turned out great!
        (and whoever invented Copy+Paste)
        Thanks (again, I seem to be at a loss of words) so much Mrs. Sweetapolita!

    • says

      A failed cakucpe (or cake) is perfect to make cake balls with. Crumble it all up and put approx 1c (or s0) of your frosting in and smush it all together with your hands, mixing well. Chill it in the fride for a half hr or so. Take out and roll into bitesize balls, put back in fridge for about another hr. (if you have sucker sticks, line the balls up on a cookie sheet and stik in the sticks before putting back in fridge.) Once chilled again roll in melted chocoate (if that is GF and vegan, I’m neither so I don’t know) if chocolate is not ok to use just micro your frosting for a few seconds to thin it out a bit and roll them in that. You can even add some sprinkles or whatever to make them cute too. Just and idea, good luck on the future recipes.

  4. says

    Yum, these look amazing. I am visiting London tomorrow for my birthday. I think it will have to include a trip to one of Bea’s cafes now.

      • says

        Hi Rosie, thanks for the birthday wishes. I had a fantastic day although I ended up having patisserie at William Curley’s rather than Bea’s that day. I had a ‘Venezuelan Chocolate Caadeaux’ (chocolate sponge with chocolate mousse, vanilla creme brulee and rum soaked raisins encased in dark chocolate) which was amazing. His recipe book is stunning by the way.

        Fortunately I’m back in London with my family this weekend and we visited Bea’s yesterday – I was expecting good things but these cakes are absolutely outstanding with brilliant service too. We shared a carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting, a chocolate cupcake with Baileys Italian meringue buttercream and a piece of raspberry layer cake which has raspberry Italian meringue buttercream and raspberry dark chocolate ganache. It was all soooooooo good, with fantastic flavour, texture and balance. I’m dreaming of my next visit but in the meantime I’ve got her book so hopefully I can recreate them at home.

        Best wishes

  5. Amy says

    I do ALL vegan baking (as I’m a vegan) and it is really really really easy. Try any of the Isa Chandra Moskowitz cookbooks (particularly Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World) for fantastic vegan baking recipes. Also visit – best vegan forum!!!

  6. Freya says

    I adore baking, and eating, cake, but a few months ago developed an allergy to cows milk so it’s really nice to find a cupcake recipe that I don’t have to make substitutions for and just hope for the best! more please! I read your blog all the time and it’s so annoying that I can’t eat 99% of the things! I made the salted caramel chocolate tart for boxing day dinner and it was so popular I’m now making 3 for my Uncle’s 50th birthday :)

  7. says

    A lot of the vegan cakes that I have had have been really delicious much, I have to say, to my surprise. But I think the combination of liquids/fats used really helps to create a moist cake. These look absolutely perfect!

  8. says

    I have wondered how bakers do vegan cupcakes with no eggs. The bit of red wine convinces me this is a recipe to try! Love your words of warning about the sprinkles … it’s not often you see cautionary notes about them!

  9. Sandy says

    Mmmmmm, they look scrummy!

    Just a quick question, could you substitute the red wine vinegar for something else? I have family who are vegan and for religious reasons do not consume anything alcoholic either!

      • Julianne says

        When I’ve been out of cider vinegar I’ve swapped it for white wine vinegar or lemon juice and the cakes have turned out exactly the same so I don’t think you’ll have any difficulty using cider (apple) vinegar in these (that’s what I’m going to do!).

        I only ever make vegan cupcakes and no-one ever realises.

  10. says

    YUMO! I’ll take a dozen please, I don’t mind the extra shipping to the states. It’s either that or lick my screen, which just wouldn’t be the same. Plactic…chocolate… see my dilemma :D

  11. says

    I just tried making vegan frosting for cupcakes this past weekend, and like you Rosie, I was stunned at how I couldn’t tell the difference – it was delicious! The recipe I used called only for icing sugar, vegan margarine (only 1/4 cup!), soy milk, cocoa, and vanilla. It was absolutely decadent! Cheers to delicious vegan baking!

  12. Allison says

    I want to thank you for posting these! I am a vegan, and I visit your blog often because the photographs are SO gorgeous, and the writing is lovely. I haven’t seen any vegan recipes to date, but I do draw inspiration from your posts in my own baking– it’s easier than one might think to “veganize” certain recipes. Others, such as angel food cake, are seemingly impossible to recreate although there are some pretty genius vegan bakers out there. Anyway, thrilled to see a vegan recipe pop up on your fabulous website :) Thank you again!

  13. Mary Sanavia says

    This is a really good trick to have under your sleeve….(there’s always someone with a food allergy that needs to sweeten their day) .they look delicious!!! (even though there is no butter in them ;) )

  14. says

    Thanks for the great recipe Rosie! My fiance and I have been vegan for about 5 years and I have not had the chance to do much vegan baking for him other than cookies. Can’t wait to try this one! x

  15. says

    These look so good! btw; you’re going dutch ;) Lots of Dutch brands such as De Ruijter (on lots of peoples bread daily, how yummy is that!) and Becel, which most people put under their ‘hagelslag’, sprinkles.

  16. says

    These look wonderful! Since my niece is allergic to eggs, dairy and nuts I’ve been making a wacky or depression cake for family celebrations. I frost it with a raspberry faux buttercream made with raspberry puree, icing sugar and vegan margarine. Very pretty and tasty, but this sounds like a great recipe. Red wine vinegar, very intriguing!

  17. says

    These are adorable! I make about 90% of my cakes vegan and I would definately devour your cupcakes, they sound delicious! Glad to have stumbled across your lovely blog :)!

  18. says

    Oh chocolat chocolat… your cupcake looks délicieux..
    yummy! I made brownies and Red Velvet this week end…but chocolate with chocolate and chocolate seems to be also a good idea!
    Your pictures are nice. I like the fluffy white!

    I’m anxious to see the next one!

  19. says

    The very first picture of your cupcakes, made me want to lick all of the icing off of the cupcake. Your pictures are always so very well done :)
    This is a fantastic recipe. My boyfriend recently started eating a lactose free diet so these would be the perfect treat for valentines day <3

  20. says

    I’m so happy to find a vegan icing recipe that doesn’t contain shortening (ick)! Thanks so much for trying out a new way of eating – I really hope to see more vegan treats from you. That way I can finally bake and eat them all myself :)

  21. says

    Brilliant. I am totally trying these cupcakes. Actually, I think I might get the book as well! I consider myself a bit of a baking purist, and would never think to try vegan baking, but I’ve been seeing so much about it of late, and with such delicious results, I really just need to get over myself and try it. Thanks for sharing.

  22. says

    I have recently discovered vegan baking due to a health issue, and I love it! I second the recommendation for Vegan Cupcakes take over the world, and I would like to also recommend Chef Chloe’s website. Her cupcakes are delicious, she even won the Food Network’s cupcake wars.

  23. Sharon says

    I forwarded this to a vegan friend of mine and she said regular sugar isn’t vegan. Something about the whitening process and bone char being used. As a non-vegan I didn’t know this – just thought you’d like to know as well. Great post!

    • says

      Hi Sharon,
      That is said to be true for some sugar companies in the U.S., but I use Redpath sugar (I am in Canada), which is completely vegan ( It’s definitely a good point, though, and I will add a note to the post. For readers who are concerned about this, they should check their sugar brand’s company website, as this info is usually included in the FAQ’s. Thanks, Sharon!

  24. says

    Happy you posted this, I am skeptical of vegan recipes, but always on the lookout as my sister is a vegetarian/sometimes vegan who prefers not to eat/drink cow’s milk. I am going to try this one when we visit her in April :)

  25. says

    Vegan baking is a fun challenge! These are so beautiful. I love the little swoop on the frosting!

    Thank you for the cookbook recommendation. I can’t wait to check it out!

  26. says

    I’m tasting various vegan cakes and pies during this period, for a firend whi cannot eat eggs nor lactose.
    I will try them for sure!

    Very nice recipe, thank you!

  27. Erin says

    Those look great- I never imagined that vegan cupcakes could look so amazing. I always figured you couldn’t make frosting without butter, but I was obviously wrong. Something I may have to try, as I’m a bit of a cupcake addict. Speaking of cupcakes, I want to do red velvet cupcakes for Valentine’s Day, and I was wondering if you’d think about finding a really good red velvet recipe and doing a post, since I have no idea what to look for in red velvet. Thanks!

    • says

      I just found an AMAZING red velvet cupcake recipe from The Cupcake Diaries cookbook! I have a post going through it on my blog! I think it’s wonderful! Feel free to check it out and tell me what you think, as I’m pretty new in the blogging world!

  28. says

    These look divine! I’ve never tried vegan anything before, but these cupcakes make me want to try! What an adventure baking those will be! To think I thought baking cupcakes from scratch as opposed to boxed mix was a monstrous feat!

  29. says

    Yum, yum, and yum again! I have a vegan chocolate cupcake recipe that I adore, but it tends to come out slightly flat. It’s great for certain ideas, and it’s absolutely delicious, but in general, I’m never satisfied with it’s appearance. I can’t wait to give this one a go…and maybe compare the two to see what I could change about mine. Thanks for sharing, Rosie, and your cupcakes and photos are both stunning!

  30. Neha says

    Hi Rosie,

    I love reading your blog and trying your yummy cake recipes. I have baked many of your cakes for a little less than a year and I am hooked:-) So far I have been using a tiny hand held electric mixer but have fianally decided to take the plunge and buy a kitchen aid. I am slowly buying all the right baking equipment and held off on the kitchen aid due to lack of space. Since I have been bitten by the baking bug I realize that I will have to buy a kitchen aid sooner rather than later. Which model do you recommend? Thanks for sharing your baking adventures:-)


  31. Heidi says

    Hi Rosie,

    I follow your blog religiously and have made a couple of the recipes you have shared! I made these Vegan/dairy free cupcakes on the weekend for a wedding client who has a dairy allergy, of course the recipe made over a dozen so I then shared the extras along with some other new flavours I was testing out to a number of my friends. I would say 75% of the people who tried all 5 cupcakes I handed out, rated this one their favourite over all of the other dairy filled cupcakes. All of their comments were along the lines of moist, chocolaty, and delicious. They couldn’t believe it was dairy free.

    Thank you again for sharing, finding good recipes takes a lot of trial and error, but I knew if you thought this one was a keeper, that it surely would be :)

    Thanks again,

  32. Gerri says

    These look so yummy!! I am so excited to be making these for my little grand daughter who we just found out is lactose intolerant. I am glad you said they taste good because I definitely trust your opinion.

    • Gerri says

      Finally made these and my grand daughter loved them! She kept saying “mmmmmmm” after each bite. I wasn’t too sure when I put the vinegar in the batter and then licked my finger and the vinegar was overpowering, but they are delicious and so moist. It was great to see my son smile because his little one still got to have a cupcake and will now bring them to birthday parties so she can join in too.
      Thanks Rosie. Next I am going to try making the funfetti cupcakes with almond milk.
      I have been sharing your blog with my baking obsessed friends too! It was hard because I wanted it to be my secret and blow them away with the cakes I have baked from your recipes, but this blog is just too much fun not to share.

  33. says

    I planned on making these cupcakes for weeks now, because I was so intrigued. I’ve baked but not frosted yet these vegan chocolate cuppies, waited impatiently untill they were cooled down to have a taste and…wow, these are really really REALLY fantastic! They are rich without having a heavy texture, they are beautifully moist and light and fluffy..I’m so happy, I have found THE vegan cupcake and I can almost say THE chocolate cupcake, vegan or not…even if I praise the dark chocolate chiffon cupcake, these ones are in my top 5!!!

    Thank you, I can now add a vegan cupcake to my menu :-)

  34. Janet says

    Okay, I just made these. I have a new FAVORITE cupcake of all time. Oh my goodness, so incredible. I don’t like chocolate cake all that much, but seriously, so so so so amazing.

    Rosie, any interest in trying some gluten free recipes? Just a thought…

  35. Jackie says

    Hi Rosie

    Is the recipe for the vegan frosting in the Tea with Bea book, I have this book, and I don’t see it in there.

  36. SKING says

    I just finished making these after looking at your amazing pics and the cakes turned out great and then I moved onto the frosting and it was going great and I was just mixing in the chocolate and I had about a tablespoon to go and as soon as I added that last tablespoon my whole batch of frosting curdled and began to separate. I tried desperately to salvage it but I did not succeed. It still tasted great so I just spread it on anyway. It just had a bit of a funny texture. Next time I will be more careful with my chocolate. Thanks for a great recipe!

  37. Katharine says

    Hi Rosie,

    My sister is now sticking to a super heart-healthy diet and doesn’t use any oils. Is there a good substitute for the oil in this recipe?


  38. says


    I just took these out of the oven and they fell within seconds of taking them out of the oven. I’m a little bummed, but I’m sure they’ll still taste good. Yours look so pretty and delicious! :)

  39. Abigail says

    I noticed this recipe uses refined sugar. Because the refining process invokes the use of bone char, which is made from pelvic or other dense bones of animals, as filters to decolorize and refine sugar, it is not truly. Many companies refer to their char as “natural charcoal,” which may be misleading. Even American Sugar Refining, Inc, which owns Dominoe Sugar, uses the method.

  40. Krystine says

    Hi! I LOVE your recipes, they always go over so well! I tried this one last night though, and I’m wondering if the amount of oil is correct? My cupcakes ended up looking like literal concave cups! And they seem to be really dense with oil, I thought maybe it’s supposed to read 1/4 cup of oil instead of 1 1/4?

    • Wendy Castro says


      I had this same exact problem when I tried to make them tonight! Did you ever try making them with just the 1/4 cup of oil? They were delicious, but too dense and not moist at all.

  41. says

    Yummy, they look so delicious! And I’m sure they taste awesome, too. I’m actually satisfied with my vegan cupcake recipe, but I’ll give it a try! Thanks!

  42. Bella says

    I know this is an old recipe, but I am still hoping to get an answer. Is there any substitute for the sunflower oil? Possibly vegetable oil? I have often used applesauce as a binder in vegan baking, but I don’t want it to affect the taste of the chocolate cake.

  43. says

    I found your page through a posting on pinterest. I can not wait to try these….. years ago I had a vegan only diet of course I got lazy (and cheap….vegan cooking can be expensive) But I want to bring it back into my diet and like you I love a baking challenge (vegan chocolate cream pie with peanut butter frosting was always a fav of mine)I’m going to comb through your site for more goodies!!

  44. Maria says

    Thank you so much for all the great tips at the end! I have our cupcakes in the oven right now – fingers crossed!

  45. Zandra says

    I made these a few days ago, and they were amazing! Love love love the lightness of them. Might be my new go to chocolate cupcake recipe.
    They were a true lifesaver as my boyfriend’s brother is allergic to all things milk. Told a friend about them and I gave her the recipe, although reluctantly. They are almost too good to share ;)

  46. Maya says

    Hi there! I came across this recipe while searching for a good vegan chocolate cake recipe and they look absolutely delicious!!!! I’m going to use this recipe to make a cake for my son’s birthday party and I wanted to know if I could make the frosting a day or two in advance and store out in the fridge until the day off the party? Do you have any tips on using the frosting after its been refrigerated- should I re-whip it, etc? Thanks!

  47. Tracy says

    Hi, not sure if this was addressed, but what do you think using almond flour will be like? I have to use that & honey, so I’m thinking I’ll get more of a brownie. That’s not all bad, but I want my son to have a cake that looks like everyone else’s. Thanks!

  48. says

    very upset and dissapointed with how these came out. sunken in and gross looking, like i used a completely different recipe. what a waste of organic ingredients. at least i made a sample batch before my son’s party. :( did anyone else have this problem??

    • Wendy Castro says

      I had this same exact problem tonight! I was looking through old posts, and someone asked if maybe the 1 1/4 cup of oil was just supposed to be 1/4 C. That would make much more sense because mine were very dense with oil. How were yours?

  49. Tina says

    Can I use coconut oil instead of sunflower oil? Are you sure its 1 1/4 cup of oil that seems like alot of oil.

  50. says

    Made these yesterday and they were fantastic! Unfortunately my oven timer didn’t go off and they were in there about 5 minutes longer than they should have been so the tops went hard and crispy, but they were still moist and tender on the inside. I had to make a few substitutions due to available ingredients but it didn’t affect the bake at all – I used almond milk, white wine vinegar and canola oil instead of what is written. I also found I didn’t need the milk in the frosting, it was the perfect consistency with just margarine, sugar and chocolate (which you need to check is vegan!). It is great to have vegan/dairy free recipes that don’t involve hard to find/expensive ingredients like coconut oil, specialty vegan stuff, etc.

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