Vegan Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Great dark chocolate cupcakes, vegan or not, need to be rich and tender, with deep chocolate flavor. To fit this description, we folded whipped aquafaba, stabilized with cream of tartar, into our cupcake batter. This helped us achieve a light, fluffy crumb—just as if we’d folded in whipped egg whites. Next we focused on complex chocolate flavor, which we got with bittersweet chocolate. But when we added enough to satisfy our chocolate cravings, our cupcakes took on a chalky texture. The culprit was the cocoa butter in the bittersweet chocolate. Once melted and resolidified, this fat takes on a very stable crystalline structure, which made the chocolate easily detectable in our delicate cupcakes. So we went down on the chocolate and added ½ cup of cocoa powder, which delivered deep chocolate flavor while keeping our cupcakes tender. Not all brands of bittersweet chocolate are vegan, so check ingredient lists carefully. If you are a strict vegan, use organic sugar, which is not processed using animal products. Do not use natural cocoa powder in this recipe; it gives the cupcakes a rubbery, spongy texture. These cupcakes are best served the day they are made.

1⅓cups (6⅔ ounces) all-purpose flour

1cup (7 ounces) sugar

¾teaspoon baking powder

¼teaspoon baking soda

½teaspoon table salt

1cup water

½cup (1½ ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped

¼cup coconut oil

¾teaspoon vanilla extract

¼cup aquafaba

1teaspoon cream of tartar

1recipe Vegan Creamy Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.

Microwave water, cocoa, chocolate, oil, and vanilla in second bowl at 50 percent power, whisking occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes; let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip aquafaba and cream of tartar on high speed until stiff foam that clings to whisk forms, 3 to 9 minutes. Using rubber spatula, stir chocolate mixture into flour mixture until batter is thoroughly combined and smooth (batter will be thick). Stir one-third of whipped aquafaba into batter to lighten, then gently fold in remaining aquafaba until no white streaks remain.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake until tops are set and spring back when pressed lightly, 16 to 20 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking.

Let cupcakes cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Spread frosting evenly over cupcakes and serve.

Vegan Creamy Chocolate Frosting

Makes 2 cups

2(14-ounce) cans coconut milk

1¼cups (10 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

⅛teaspoon table salt

Refrigerate unopened cans of coconut milk for at least 24 hours to ensure that 2 distinct layers form. Skim cream layer from each can and measure out ¾ cup cream (discard milky liquid).

Microwave coconut cream, chocolate chips, and salt in bowl at 50 percent power, whisking occasionally, until melted and smooth, 2 to 4 minutes; transfer to bowl of stand mixer. Place plastic wrap directly against surface of chocolate mixture and refrigerate until cooled completely and texture resembles firm cream cheese, about 3 hours, stirring halfway through chilling. (If mixture has chilled for longer and is very stiff, let stand at room temperature until softened but still cool.) Using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip at high speed until fluffy, mousse-like soft peaks form, 2 to 4 minutes, scraping down bowl halfway through whipping.

Pasta e Ceci

Serves 4 to 6

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Every Italian household has its own version of pasta and chickpeas. We started by sautéing a soffritto— finely chopped onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and pancetta—in olive oil. We then stirred in tomatoes, water, and canned chickpeas along with their aquafaba. We weren’t looking for leavening action but rather were after the thicker body and seasoned flavor that aquafaba would add. Simmering the chickpeas before adding the pasta made them creamy, and because they broke down a bit, they added even more body to the cooking liquid. We chose ditalini pasta, a popular choice for its chickpea-like size. We simmered the mixture for about 10 minutes, at which point the pasta was tender and had released some starch of its own to further thicken the stew. Lemon juice and parsley stirred in at the end added a touch of brightness. Other short pasta can be substituted for the ditalini; substitute by weight and not by volume.

2ounces pancetta, cut into ½-inch pieces

1small carrot, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces

1small celery rib, cut into ½-inch pieces

4garlic cloves, peeled

1onion, halved and cut into 1-inch pieces

1(14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained

¼cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

2teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

1anchovy fillet, rinsed, patted dry, and minced

¼teaspoon red pepper flakes

2(15-ounce) cans chickpeas (shake cans; do not drain)

2cups water

1teaspoon table salt

8ounces (1½ cups) ditalini

1tablespoon lemon juice

1tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Grated Parmesan cheese

Process pancetta in food processor until ground to paste, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add carrot, celery, and garlic and pulse until finely chopped, 8 to 10 pulses. Add onion and pulse until onion is cut into ⅛- to ¼-inch pieces, 8 to 10 pulses. Transfer pancetta mixture to Dutch oven. Pulse tomatoes in nowempty processor until coarsely chopped, 8 to 10 pulses. Set aside.

Add oil to pancetta mixture in pot and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fond begins to form on bottom of pot, about 5 minutes. Add rosemary, anchovy, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas and their liquid, water, and salt and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing Parmesan and extra oil separately.

Whiskey Sour

Serves 1

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS A classic whiskey sour traditionally includes an egg white, shaken with the other ingredients to add rich, silky body and foamy frothiness. But we learned that, just as with baked goods, you can successfully substitute aquafaba in cocktails that use egg whites. The first shake is done without ice to emulsify the ingredients. Then the cocktail gets a second shake with ice to chill it properly.

2ounces rye

1ounce aquafaba

½ounce simple syrup

½ounce lemon juice

Cocktail cherries

Add rye, aquafaba, simple syrup, and lemon juice to cocktail shaker and vigorously shake until mixture is foamy, 30 to 45 seconds. Fill shaker with ice, then shake mixture until fully combined and well chilled, about 15 seconds. Strain cocktail into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherries and serve.