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by Tan Rutley

Tan Rutley, a teacher/blogger/maker/hugger, is the creator of Squirrelly Minds where she shares DIY creations, recipes, and more to make your life pretty and fun. Her mind never stops thinking, planning, and making (squirrelly mind, get it?) and her projects nearly always leave her covered in glitter or flour. Sometimes both. Tan is an island girl living in Canada's west coast with her husband and overly fluffy kitty Lucy.

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  • That special red, pink, and white day is coming up, and just because you've pushed dairy and such from your diet doesn't mean you can't enjoy a sinfully decadent Valentine treat. Trust me.

    I spent a good chunk of my life as a vegetarian, and part of that as a vegan. The most common question or comment I would get is how sad it was I had to miss out on creamy delicious desserts. If one wants a creamy delicious dessert, one will work hard to make it happen. Don't worry, vegans are fully capable of enjoying all sorts of treats.
  • Photo: Squirrelly Minds
  • Cupcakes in particular are much easier to make vegan than you'd think. It's easy to fool even the most dairy-loving friends with these little cakes.

    This one is an absolute favorite of mine and is often requested by friends. A fluffy cake with a hint of chocolate topped with a "cream cheese" icing, this red velvet cupcake rivals any non-vegan equivalent out there.

    The Perfect Vegan Red Velvet Cupcake

  • Photo: Squirrelly Minds
    Yields 12 large cupcakes, 24 small

    For the cake:
    1 cup soy or almond milk
    1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1/4 cup cocoa powder
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/3 cup canola oil
    1 tablespoon red food coloring
    1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

    For the icing:
    1/4 cup vegan margarine, softened
    1/4 cup vegan cream cheese, softened
    3 cups icing sugar
    1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
    • Whisk together the milk and vinegar (wet ingredients) and set aside for five minutes.
    • Meanwhile, sift together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
    • To the wet ingredients, add the oil, food coloring, and vanilla extract. Whisk well to thoroughly combine. In two batches, gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until large lumps disappear.
    • Fill cupcake liners about two-thirds full. Place in hot oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.
    • Meanwhile, use a stand mixer or hand mixer to cream together the margarine and cream cheese until well combined. Sift in the icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time while the mixer continues to cream ingredients together. Mix until smooth and creamy, then mix in the vanilla.
    • Remove cupcakes from oven when ready (insert a toothpick to test). Let them cool for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely before icing.

    The cupcakes can be iced any way you like, whether it's simply spread on with a knife or piped on expertly. For Valentine's Day, I like piping roses on top to make them a little more romantic. You'll just need one piping bag and one 1m piping nib.

    Insert nib into the bag and fill with icing. Start at the center of the cupcake and evenly squeeze the icing out while moving the piping bag around the cupcake, from inside to the outside edges, as pictured above.

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