Do you remember MiniMoFo from the run up to the VeganMoFo? It was a series of challenges that took place before the main month, and I posted Apple Crumble Bars and Red Pepper & Thyme Rolls (plus an extra post on my Instagram!). Well, it’s back! There’s a new MiniMoFo challenge for December, and the prompt is ‘Hot Cocoa‘, which is lovely and wintery.
It’s no secret that I do love hot chocolate. Curling up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate is a perfect way to relax, and I love finding different ways to spruce up my hot chocolate – adding cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne gives it some lovely heat, adding a spoonful of Biscoff spread makes it gooey and spiced, a drop of orange esscence for an orange hot chocolate…and so on. If you can get hold of vegan marshmallows, even better!
However, for this prompt I wanted to go further, and not make just hot chocolate, but baked hot chocolate. In the form of cupcakes.
I present to you, Hot Chocolate Cupcakes…with Toasted Marshmallow Topping. Please excuse the slight messiness in the photos – I managed to get marshmallow topping everywhere!
And yes, that is all-vegan toasted marshmallow fluff on top. How amazing is that?
The cupcakes themselves have three layers of chocolate – they’re made with cocoa, chocolate milk, and melted dark chocolate. This makes them super rich and chocolatey – perfect to emulate a hot chocolate drink!
See that picture above? Look at the fluffy, glossy marshmallow fluff! What’s the secret? Well, it’s aquafaba. I’ve used aquafaba before – most recently in my Brookies recipe, where it’s used as an egg substitute, but I haven’t posted about it whipped like this before.
Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of beans – usually chickpeas. Drain the chickpeas through a sieve, catching the water in a large, clean, bowl. Put the chickpeas aside – use them in pasta, or soup, or however you like. You don’t need them for this. Into the liquid, add a quarter spoonful of cream of tartar – this is often used in meringues to help stabilise the mixture – and some vanilla extract. For the next step, you need to whip the liquid up. I use an electric hand mixer, but other people use a stand mixer with great results. You whip the liquid for quite a while – 10 minutes maybe – until it forms “stiff peaks”, which, if you’ve never made meringue before, is when the foam stands up on it’s own without flopping over when you lift the mixer out. Classically, this is where you can hold the bowl upside-down over your head without it falling on top of you.
Once it gets to this point, you need to slowly add the sugar. For meringues, you use granulated sugar. For this marshmallow fluff, inspired by a recipe from Seitan Is My Motor, I use part powdered sugar and part caster sugar (superfine, in America). Add the powdered sugar, a spoonful at a time, whilst the mixer is running, until the mix turns glossy and all the sugar is gone. Finally, mix the caster sugar in a bowl with 1/2 tsp xanthan gum – this is what gives it the stretchy, marshmallow-fluff texture – and slowly spoon that into the whipped mixture. It’ll quickly go sticky and start climbing up your mixer but that’s ok! It means it’s getting the right texture.
This method is pretty amazing when you first try it. The small amount of liquid from one can of beans whips up into a huge bowlful, and really tastes like marshmallow fluff.
Once the fluff and cupcakes are both made, you just spoon the fluff on top of the cupcakes, and then put them under the grill (or “broiler” for Americans) until they’re toasty brown (you could use a torch if you have one). Finally, I finished off with a sprinkling of grated chocolate just for that extra chocolatey touch!
Though this recipe sounds complicated – it really isn’t, and it’s fascinating to see the magic of aquafaba in work, and get a toasty marshmallow topping on your cupcakes. Give it a go!
Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Topping
Preheat the Oven to 170C/335F
- Start with the cupcakes! In a bowl, combine the chocolate milk and the vinegar and set aside so the milk can curdle.
- In a separate, large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate, and salt.
- Into the milk, mix the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk with a fork to combine.
- Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix to combine thoroughly.
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl either in the microwave or over a double-boiler, until completely melted. Mix this into the cake batter.
- Set out cupcake cases in a tray, and spoon the batter evenly amongst them.
- Place in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until a knife inserted into the cupcake turns out clean. Set aside to cool thoroughly.
- Now, make the marshmallow fluff! Place the aquafaba in a large, very clean bowl.
- To the aquafaba, add the vanilla extract and cream of tartar.
- Whisk the aquafaba with an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks – up to ten minutes.
- Now, with the mixer running, add the icing sugar a spoonful at a time, allowing it to combine.
- Once the icing sugar is all added, combine the caster sugar and xanthan gum in a small bowl. Add this a spoonful at a time to the fluff mixture.
- Once it’s all combined, your fluff is done! Place spoonfuls on top of each cupcake (you will have excess fluff leftover).
- Preheat your grill (or broiler if you’re American), and then place cupcakes underneath it, keeping a close eye on them, until the tops are browned and toasted.
- Finally, grate a small amount of chocolate over the cupcakes.
- Store in an airtight container.