The perfect vegan white cupcake with bakery frosting

What’s that saying?

‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’

Well, part of that is right.

When the going gets tough, the tough bake cupcakes. Lots of them. With uber-rich, bakery-style frosting that gets a teeny bit hard on the outside but remains sugary and smooth on the inside. Yeah, that’s what we do when life throws us a curveball in the Chubby Vegan household.

I’ve been a bit of a funk lately. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s because I’m going to be the dirty 30 in a mere two months (and still don’t feel like an adult!), I don’t know.

What I do know, is this: I am a firm believer that there are few things in this life cupcakes won’t make better. So I set out this time to create something really, really simple, but really, really sweet and really, really perfect.

The result is reminiscent of that white-on-white bakery birthday cake you used to get from the grocery store. You know, the one that’s all dense and heavy with the super rich, almost overwhelmingly sweet frosting? Yeah, we busted out a dozen of those in our Chubby Vegan kitchen and lets just say I had to make MORE icing because the first batch didn’t quite make it all on the cupcakes (OK, some of it ended up in my stomach. It was good, what can I say.)

Here’s the secret: don’t skip the vegetable shortening. I get it, you want to try and be healthy, but for reals peeps, it’s a cupcake, make it right or don’t make it at all. (Adorable cupcake trophy stand courtesy of my equally adorable and awesome boss!)

Bakery-style vegan white cupcakes with white frosting
(makes 12 dozen deliciously-iced cupcakes)
Cake ingredients:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 stick vegan butter (we used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup vanilla coconut milk
1/4 cup vegan sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Frosting ingredients:
4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup vegan butter (softened)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Cake directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place cupcake wrappers in a pan muffin tin. Cream together vegan butter and shortening until light and fluffy (with a hand or stand mixer). Stir in sugar and applesauce. Slowly mix in flour, baking powder and salt. Once combined, add coconut milk, vegan sour cream and vanilla extract. Fill cupcake wrappers a little over half full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or edges become a very light, golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Frosting directions: 

Mix shortening, vegan butter, vanilla, almond extract,and half of the powdered sugar with a mixer for *at least* five minutes (possibly up to 10 minutes depending on the power/speed of your mixer). Add the rest of the powdered sugar and beat just enough to mix in. Frost cupcakes as desired, store in fridge when not in use. 


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Vegan caramel sauce

I’m a massive fan of all things caramel. From ice cream to coffee, I pretty much think caramel makes the world go round. 

Sure, there are some vegan options for caramel sauce out there, but a lot of them are super costly or incredibly difficult to get your hands on when you need a serious sweet fix. 

So I finally concocted the perfect vegan caramel sauce, ideal for baked goods, ice cream or fancy lattes. 

This will keep in the fridge for a few weeks, although, it doesn’t normally last that long. I reused a squeezy bottle from another sauce we had and keep our homemade vegan caramel sauce in it. 


Vegan caramel topping

1/2 cup sugar
1 TBS maple syrup
2 tsp water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut milk (the full fat kind in a can)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp corn starch

In a sauce pan on medium heat mix sugar, maple syrup and water until well blended. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then add vanilla extract, coconut milk and salt. 

Bring back to a simmer. Stir the mixture for at least five minutes and then add corn starch. Turn the heat to low and stir until it thickens. Transfer to container of your choosing. 


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A few ways parenthood is actually a lot like college

This past week our family came down with a respiratory virus, well, mainly Braeburn, but the rest of us got enough of it to feel extra whiny and needy as well.  At two years old, my little boy has been sleeping through the night like a champion. Actually, since about four or five months old he’s been sleeping a good 10-12 hours every night.

So it’s pretty safe to say we’ve gotten accustomed to our shut eye in the Chubby Vegan household.

But between my own chest congestion, his and having to get up with him, our family has not received an adequate amount of Zzz’s this week. I’m telling you folks, once your baby starts sleeping through the night, those long nights you stayed up breastfeeding or rocking slowly fade away, and you convince yourself that it really wasn’t that bad, right.

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. Not getting sleep is TERRIBLE. It is that bad. It’s worse!

Needless to say, some of our daily chores may or may not have gotten pushed aside at the mere possibility of a nap, whether it be five seconds or five hours.

And so a couple mornings ago, I woke up, took one look at my living room and realized, “Wow, maybe being a mother with small children isn’t all that different from college me.”

Remember those crazy parties in college? The one’s you stayed up far too late at, passed out on a couch with 11 of your bffs and then woke up the next day surrounded by mountains of beer cans and almost-empty liquor bottles? An uneven, stale-smelling, coating of Natural Light waxed your table, while store-brand red plastic cups remained overturned and ping pong balls from your beer pong tournament have mysteriously vanished forever?

Yeah, my house isn’t really much different than that scenario right now. Only, instead of crappy beer cans, I’ve got juice boxes and flavored water bottles littering my living room. I mean, seriously, at one point, I counted four empty juice boxes, three half-full ones, two empty water bottles and two full ones, plus a coffee cup for good measure all dotting our living room floor, tables and couches.

And it may or may not have taken me a good five minutes to scrub the thin layer of fruit punch off our coffee room table. Our living room may not be missing ping pong balls this time, but there are several toys that were eaten by the couch and may never, ever be heard again. (I’m not that sad about those toys)

Remember my whole whiny rant up there about the no sleep treatment we’ve been getting? Well, friends, the last time I skipped this many nights of snooze was definitely in my college days. My roommate and I used to stay up until two, three in the morning playing cards, coming up with inappropriate names for new taco bell items based on slang for women’s genitalia or just rehashing something stupid so-and-so did. And when that 8:30 class rolled around, our butts got up and went to it, for fear our advisor, Sister Eileen (yeah, our college advisor was a nun), would call us inquiring about our absence. Of course we later skipped our afternoon communications or journalism class to – of course not nap – but instead, reward ourselves with a smoothie for actually attending history of the English language.

And have I mentioned the clothes? Clothing everywhere. You would think our dryer threw up and we all lost the ability to fold and put away laundry in the Chubby Vegan household. I’d like to blame this on our respiratory issues; however, this is a pretty regular occurrence in our home. I like clothes. My daughter likes clothes. Therefore, we have far too many between the two of us. My husband owns probably triple the amount of t-shirts I own and our son has quite a collection of pants himself. The culmination of these events has led to mounds of clothing – dirty mingling with clean – winter interaction with fall fashion – and it’s gotten to the point where I find searching for my clothing in actual dresser drawers to be arduous and unnecessary.

I can’t help but think back to college when my roommate and I were less than zealous about putting away our outfits, and instead threw them on the large chair and ottoman we had in our room for overnight guests. It’s probably a good thing we didn’t have many overnight guests, or they might have been swallowed whole by our laundry pile – that or we would have had to put our skanky club shirts and skirts away – ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha.

And let’s talk about the cheap pizza and greasy Chinese takeout for a minute. Was there anything better in college than a pile of fried rice or lo-mein on a plate when you were sleep-starved and hung over? Absolutely not, well, except maybe for birthday cake ice cream. That stuff was pretty rad. The same taste holds true today when you’re sleep-deprived and feel hungover simply because you were up with a two year old screaming in your ear all night. You most certainly have no desire to heat food up yourself, which makes the crappy pizza crust and grease-coated noodles taste all the more refined. I’m serious folks, treat yourself to some take out on the giddy up. It’ll take you right back to your college days.

Ultimately, however, there’s one changed, but still interlinking connection between my mom life and my college days – and that’s the overwhelming sense of family. Whether it’s the one you birthed or the one you built for yourself while bonding over being away from home and starting a new adventure, few things feel stronger than the friendships you form during these pivotal years – the ones where you dream about having a family with your college best friends – and the ones where you actually start your family. You rarely feel alone, which might be the most important thing of all.


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