After a week of cold and rain, this sunny week calls for cupcakes. The kind of cupcakes that will brighten any day. These are those cupcakes.
While I typically bake rich chocolatey sweets, I wanted to create something with a lighter and more uplifting feel this past weekend. The smells that come with creating this sweet treat are all the aromatherapy you need.
I know the flavors might sound weird at first, but I was inspired mostly by the basil-blackberry pairing. The lemon cupcake is simply a complement. The basil turns out to be surprisingly minty and doesn’t linger for long. These aren’t bold-flavored cupcakes, but they still give you a good sugar rush if you frost them sufficiently.
Treat your ears to some sweet tunes, too. This oldie-but-goodie from The New Pornographers has me reminiscent of undergrad summers goofing off around Austin. The video is pretty sweet, too.
Vegan Lemon Cupcakes with Basil Buttercream & Blackberry
Makes 1 dozen
1 cup soymilk (not almond)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 lemon, zested & juiced
1 + 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or your favorite gluten-free blend)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tablespoons soymilk (or almond milk)
1/4 cup vegan shortening
1/4 cup vegan margarine
1 + 3/4 cup powdered sugar
12+ small basil leaves (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pan(s) with baking cups (makes 12).
In a large bowl, whisk together soymilk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit for a few minutes to curdle. Add oil, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Whisk until smooth.
Either sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, or stir them together in a smaller bowl and add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Your call. Your dishes.
Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full. These cupcakes won’t rise much and will remain fairly flat. Bake 25 minutes. Set aside to cool when done.
Make basil buttercream while your cupcakes bake. Chop your basil finely if you haven’t already (see photo above). Stir basil and soymilk in a small bowl and set aside for the flavor to develop. (For even more basil flavor, add an extra tablespoon of soymilk and steep the basil and soymilk together on the stove at a simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Let it cool before adding it to your mixer.)
Get our your mixer, handheld or otherwise. In your mixing bowl, cream together shortening and margarine until well combined. Sift in powdered sugar (or just add it in & be cool with lumps), and beat on high until well combined and somewhat fluffy. Add in the basil and soymilk mixture and beat on high about 2 more minutes.
However you want, put that icing on your cupcakes, once cooled. I use a ziplock bag and cut the corner off. Super professional. Top with blackberries and basil leaves. Eat immediately and invite a friend over to celebrate cupcake success.