I'm not much of a dessert person, but I bought Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World recently for someone for Christmas, and I dipped in to it a little myself and got slightly carried away. Cupcakes are kind of enchanting - small, sweet, self contained, prettily decorated, promising just enough indulgence - and I went a little crazy. I made marzipan poinsettias to top them and gave them to friends for Christmas.
I started with a recipe from Vegan Cupcakes, and after several test batches, here is my adjusted recipe for Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes:
1 c. coconut milk
1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. canola oil
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp corn flour (like Maseca Masa flour that you can buy at your local Mexican store)
1/4 c. almond meal
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. ground cinnamon, depending on how much you like
1/8 tsp ground cayenne (or more, if you like - I don't know that I'd exceed 1/4 tsp., but I haven't tried that much yet)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Whisk together coconut milk and flaxseed, allow to sit for 10 minutes. In another bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, corn flour, almond meal, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne. (You can make the almond meal yourself to save some money - just drop almonds into boiling water, then pull them out after about a minute and drop them into ice water, then pull them out after a minute. The skins should pop right off - then dry them well and grind them in a food processor or spice grinder. Presto - almond meal). Whisk sugar, oil and vanilla into coconut milk mixture. Gently add wet ingredients to dry. When blended, fill each cupcake liner to 3/4 c. full, then bake 22-25 minutes. After you put the cupcakes in, don't even open the oven until at least 22 minutes have passed, then test for done-ness. Cool completely before icing.
Icing (this is genuinely impressive - the heft and richness is fabulous):
1-12.3 oz package of extra-firm silken aseptic tofu (like Mori-Nu)
1/4 c. plain (full-fat unsweetened) soymilk
2 Tbsp. agave or maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-12 oz package of semisweet chocolate chips
Crumble tofu into blender, add soymilk, agave and vanilla. Puree until completely smooth, set aside. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler, cool 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chocolate to tofu and blend until combined, then transfer to a covered container and chill 1 hour.
I like cake better than icing in general, so I just spread the icing on top of the cupcakes, and using that amount, the above recipe will ice well over 2 dozen cupcakes. If you were piping the icing on to the cupcakes with a pastry bag, it wouldn't go quite as far, but I still think that you could get almost 2 dozen.
If you wanted to make the marzipan poinsettias, you'll need marzipan, red food coloring (gel works well - it makes less of a mess and adds less liquid), and pearl or silver dagrees. Cut off however much marzipan seems appropriate to you, then cut it into smaller pieces (just to make it easier to mix in the food coloring). Squirt some food coloring over the marzipan, and knead it in. Roll the marzipan into a log, then divide into 12 pieces, or however many cupcakes you have. Take one piece, and divide it into 6 little pieces. Roll each piece into a teardrop shape, then squish into a flat petal shape. As you make your petals, transfer them to a piece of wax paper so that they don't stick to anything while you work with them and assemble your poinsettias. Use a toothpick to put a line down the middle of each petal. Once you have 6 little petals, take 3 and arrange them into a trefoil shape, pressing their fat ends together a little. You can also use a q-tip to wet the ends to help them stick together. Next, carefully press the remaining 3 petals on top of your base, with each new petal pointing in between the two below it. At this point it may be particularly helpful to wet the part of the underside of the petal that will be touching the petals below it. Once your poinsettia is assembled, gently wet the center of each flower with your q-tip and place some dagrees (however many look best to you) in the center. Press each in to the marzipan gently with the end of a toothpick. Store them in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them.