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This bakery-quality vegan chocolate cupcake recipe yields rich, moist cupcakes topped with fudgy cashew-based chocolate frosting to make them even more decadent. This recipe makes just two cupcakes (so it’s perfect for date night or anytime a random chocolate craving strikes!), and you probably have everything on hand to make them.

hand holding vegan chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting with bite
Just look at that moist, fluffy crumb! It’s chocolate cake perfection that just happens to be vegan.

There’s something about me you need to know.

I can’t do dry cake. Or gummy cake. Or bland cake.

I’d rather eat celery sticks.

Even if I’m dying for a chocolate fix.

I’ve tried just about every single-cupcake recipe (or recipes that make two single cupcakes) known to man. (Ok, not really, but I’ve tried a lot. Upwards of half a dozen different ones.) I was hard-pressed to find even one that I considered to be worth the calories. I knew this needed to change.

This recipe is what I came up with, and it is everything a cupcake should be. Not just a quick fix of chocolate, but a legitimately decadent, delicious cake in both flavor and texture. That also happens to satisfy a serious chocolate craving.

Just a quick tip for making cake; the most common problem I’ve discovered from people who ask me what they’re doing wrong because they end up with a rubbery/gummy-textured cake is that they’re over-mixing. Be careful not to over-mix, and your cake should have a moist, tender crumb.

chocolate vegan cupcake recipe for two

This beautiful fluffy frosting swirl adorning the top of these cupcakes is my cashew-based vegan chocolate frosting. You can use any frosting you like or feel free to just sprinkle on a light dusting of powdered sugar; they are so moist, no frosting required!

Because this recipe makes just two cupcakes, it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day dessert for you and your sweetheart! And of course it’s a great recipe to have up your sleeve for anytime a chocolate craving strikes and you don’t want to have an entire cake on hand.

best vegan chocolate cupcake with fudgy chocolate frosting and sprinkles

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes Ingredients and Substitutions

If you’re looking for a go-to vegan cupcake recipe, you found it! But honestly, this is just a great cupcake recipe that also happens to be vegan. If you didn’t know they were vegan, you’d never guess by tasting them!

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

Easy Vegan Chocolate Cupcake Ingredients

  • Flour – For this recipe we use all-purpose flour.
  • Natural unsweetened cocoa powder – Don’t use Dutch-processed cocoa powder here. Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa powder works well.
  • Granulated white sugar – We use white sugar as the sweetener in these cupcakes. You can use half white sugar and half brown sugar for subtle notes of molasses if you like.
  • Baking soda – Baking soda is the leavening agent in this recipe; the acidity in natural (not Dutch-processed) cocoa powder activates it.
  • Salt – Don’t skip the salt! We need a little bit of salt even in dessert recipes. Salt is a natural flavor enhancer that helps pull out the flavors of everything else.
  • Instant espresso powder – We just use a little bit of instant espresso powder. You won’t be able to taste coffee; rather, it just adds to the flavor notes of the chocolate.
  • Plain unsweetened milk – Any type of plant-based milk will work here. And if you don’t need to keep these cupcakes vegan, cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or goat’s milk will also work.
  • Vegetable oil – Oil is the secret ingredient that helps result in a moist, fluffy cake with a tender crumb. You can use any type of neutral or mild-flavored oil you like such as vegetable oil, canola oil, or avocado oil.
  • Vanilla extract – This helps pull out the flavor nuances in chocolate.

Cashew Vegan Chocolate Frosting Ingredients

  • Raw cashews – This is the base of our vegan chocolate frosting. Make sure to soak the cashews in boiling water! They only need to soak for 10 minutes if you’re using a high-speed blender.
  • Medjool dates – Dates are a nutritious natural paleo and vegan sweetener. Here they also help to thicken our frosting.
  • Boiling water – We use boiling water to briefly soak the cashews and dates.
  • Maple syrup – Use real maple syrup and not “maple flavored syrup” here, friends.
  • Canned unsweetened full-fat coconut milk – Chill the can in the fridge overnight and don’t stir it. For the right consistency for this frosting, use the thick, creamy part that rises to the top.
  • Coconut oil – A little bit of coconut oil helps stiffen our frosting to the right consistency.
  • Vanilla extract – Vanilla extract adds depth of flavor.
  • Natural unsweetened cocoa powder – Cocoa powder adds deep, rich chocolate flavor.
  • Instant espresso powder – Just like in the cupcake recipe, a touch of instant espresso powder enhances the flavor of the chocolate in the frosting.
  • Salt – Salt elevates the flavor and pulls everything together.
  • Warm water – You may need just a little splash of warm water to thin out the frosting.

Instructions

How to Make Vegan Cupcakes

This is an easy 1-bowl cupcake batter that only takes about 2 minutes to whip up!

how to make vegan chocolate cupcakes
  1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and instant espresso powder in a medium bowl. Add the milk, oil, and vanilla.
  2. Whisk or stir just until combined, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Divide the batter between 2 lined muffin wells.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean, about 18 to 22 minutes at 350F. Cool 5 minutes in the tray, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling, about 25 minutes more.

How to Make Fudgy Vegan Chocolate Frosting

There are a ton of different ingredients you can use to make vegan chocolate frosting, such as coconut cream, avocado, black beans, tofu, etc. If you’re looking for vegan chocolate frosting without vegan butter, this is for you. For this recipe, we use a base of cashews to make our frosting!

overhead view of bowl of vegan chocolate frosting

While the cupcakes are baking and cooling, make the frosting.

Add the cashews and dates to a small bowl. Cover by 1 inch with boiling water, and let it soak for 10 minutes. Drain.

Add the drained cashews and dates, maple syrup, coconut milk, coconut oil, and vanilla to a high-speed blender. Puree until smooth. (See the Notes in the recipe card below if you don’t have a high speed blender.)

Transfer the pureed cashew mixture to a bowl and add the cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Use a handheld electric mixer to beat together until smooth and creamy, adding the warm water if necessary to achieve the right consistency.

Once the cupcakes are cooled to room temperature, pipe the frosting on top. You can decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Storage

Because of the coconut milk and coconut oil in the frosting, these frosted cupcakes need to be stored in the fridge. You can store them in an airtight container (or wrapped well) in the fridge for up to 3 days.

However, you can store these unfrosted cupcakes for a bit longer. Store them wrapped well or in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Special Diet Friendly

As written, this cupcake recipe for two is vegan, egg free, and dairy free.

And the chocolate frosting recipe is vegan, paleo, gluten free, egg free, and dairy free! This cashew frosting is rich and decadent without even using vegan butter!

close up front view of dairy free chocolate cupcake with cashew frosting swirl

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes for Two FAQs

What is the Secret to Moist Cupcakes?

The trick to moist, fluffy cupcakes is two-fold: 1) use vegetable oil (instead of butter) as the fat, and 2) don’t over-mix the batter.

Can I Double the Recipe?

Yes! If you need more than just two cupcakes, this recipe is very easy to scale up because it doesn’t contain egg.

top view of cupcake with swirl of fudgy chocolate frosting

What Makes These Cupcakes Dairy Free?

We don’t use any dairy products in these cupcakes. Similar to Depression-era Crazy Cake (aka Wacky Cake), this cupcake recipe uses oil instead of butter.

Also, a lot of people tend to think that eggs are dairy because they’re usually found in or near the dairy aisle at the grocery store. However, eggs are not considered dairy (but note that eggs are also not vegan). Eggs are laid by birds, as opposed to dairy products which contain milk from mammals (such as cow, sheep, goat, etc.). In any case, these vegan cupcakes are egg free in addition to being dairy free!

egg free chocolate cupcake with dairy free frosting with bite showing moist cake

More Vegan Desserts to Try

dairy free chocolate cupcake with thick buttercream swirl and chocolate sprinkles

Let’s Connect

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Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes for Two with Vegan Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Other Time30 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
This bakery-quality vegan chocolate cupcake recipe yields rich, moist cupcakes topped with fudgy cashew-based chocolate frosting to make them even more decadent. This recipe makes just two cupcakes (so it's perfect for date night or anytime a random chocolate craving strikes!), and you probably have everything on hand to make them.

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Ingredients
 

Cupcakes:

Frosting:

Instructions
 

For the Cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 350F; line a muffin tray with 2 paper liners.
  • Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and instant espresso powder in a medium bowl. Add the milk, oil, and vanilla, and stir just until combined, being careful not to over-mix.
  • Divide the batter between the 2 lined muffin wells.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean, about 18 to 22 minutes.
  • Cool 5 minutes in the tray, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling, about 25 minutes more.

For the Frosting:

  • While the cupcakes are baking and cooling, make the frosting.
  • Add the cashews and dates to a small bowl. Cover by 1 inch with boiling water, and let it soak for 10 minutes. Drain.
  • Add the drained cashews and dates, maple syrup, coconut milk, coconut oil, and vanilla to a high-speed blender. Puree until smooth. (See Notes if you don’t have a high speed blender.)
  • Transfer the pureed cashew mixture to a bowl and add the cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Use a handheld electric mixer to beat together until smooth and creamy, adding the warm water if necessary to achieve the right consistency.

Frost the Cupcakes:

  • Once the cupcakes are cooled to room temperature, pipe the frosting on top. You can decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Notes

  • If You Don’t Have a High-Speed Blender: You can still make this! Just soak the cashews for 2 hours and soak the dates for 15 minutes, and then puree them in a regular blender or food processor.
  • Coconut Milk: Chill the can in the fridge overnight and don’t stir it. For the right consistency for this frosting, use the thick, creamy part that rises to the top.
  • Storage: Because of the coconut milk and coconut oil in the frosting, these frosted cupcakes need to be stored in the fridge. You can store them in an airtight container (or wrapped well) in the fridge for up to 3 days. However, you can store these unfrosted cupcakes for a bit longer. Store them wrapped well or in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  • Fluffy Walnut Spread Made Into Mousse to Use as Frosting: I had originally frosted these cupcakes with my fluffy walnut spread made into mousse, so I wanted to link to that recipe here. (See the Notes of that recipe for instructions on how to make the spread into mousse to use as frosting.)
  • Frosting Yield: This frosting recipe makes about 1 cup of frosting, which is enough for a large, thick swirl on top of each cupcake. But note that you don’t have to use this much frosting!

Nutrition

Serving: 1frosted cupcake | Calories: 579kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 394mg | Potassium: 752mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 51g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cashew Frosting, Chocolate Vegan Cupcake Recipe, Dairy Free Chocolate Cupcakes, Egg Free Chocolate Cupcakes, Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes, Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe, Vegan Chocolate Frosting, Vegan Chocolate Frosting Recipe

Share it with me on Instagram and leave a comment to let me know your thoughts!

vegan chocolate cupcakes for two recipe pin

This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on November 15, 2012 and updated with more information on January 24, 2024.

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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35 Comments

  1. I made the vegan version of these cupcakes for an omnivore friends bday ;) she absolutely loved them! Could not tell it was vegan and now she wants me to make her more! This recipe was amazing for a quick two people serving! Thanks for sharing!

  2. would it be possible to replace the oil with a tablespoon of unsweetened applesauce?

    1. Anna, I haven’t tried the recipe using applesauce instead of oil, but I think it would work although the texture might be slightly different. If you try it, please let me know how it turns out!

  3. I just had to leave a comment! I made these last night and wow they were moist and delicious! I’m usually wary of vegan recipes, but this one was great – and so easy! They’re even better the second day! I love how all the ingredients are things I normally have on hand. I will definitely make these again.

  4. I love these cupcakes. So moist and light. I want to make these for my sons school bake sale but am not sure how of the quantities. If I want to make around 12 cupcakes, so do I just multiply all ingredients by 6???

    1. Sam, I’m so happy you like the cupcakes! I haven’t played with this recipe, but here are the quantities I would use to make 12: 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour; 3/4 cup sugar; 6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder; 1/2 teaspoon baking soda; slightly scant 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder; 3/4 cup milk; 6 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil (I might scale this down to 4 tablespoons); 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract. I hope this helps; please let me know how it goes if you give it a try!

  5. I love this recipe! I have made it a ton of times, but recently I used blonde coconut sugar, coconut oil, and almond milk instead of white sugar, vegetable oil, and whole milk. I like it even better! Next I want to try it with a gluten free flour.

  6. I saw Anna link these and they look so good – 2 cupcakes, and they’re vegan. And really, most times all I want (or need) is two. Perfect!

  7. Morgan Bailey says:

    I was desperate for chocolate this evening and I’m so glad I stumbled upon this recipe! My cakes turned out so perfectly I almost died… but seriously, yum! I opted out of frosting and just sprinkled a little coarse sea salt on top about half way through baking. Thanks for the recipe!! (my boyfriend also thanks you) :)

  8. Lovely recipe thanks for sharing! Congratulations for your new Book :)

  9. i keep saving recipes like that, but haven’t tried them yet… now i will go delete those and add this one in ;) looks fabulous!

  10. I easily can cook for two, however, baking for two has never been realized in my cucina ;o)
    The 1/16th measures will be on my radar the next time I shop for new measuring spoons!

    BTW…all this controversy over which Cocoa powder to use has became a slight thorn in my side. After having read lots on the subject…I still remain with a penchant towards the ‘Dutch processed’ kind. Geez…decision…decisions…and not an easy one I might add ;o)

    Have a great weekend Faith.
    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

    1. Claudia, I hope all is well with you, my friend! The 1/16 teaspoon is equivalent to about 1 pinch, as I noted in the recipe – or if you prefer, just use a 1/8 teaspoon measuring spoon and fill it halfway. Yes, definitely use whatever cocoa powder you prefer – but in this recipe only natural (i.e., not Dutch-processed) will work because it needs the acid to activate the leavener (the baking soda).

      Have a wonderful weekend! xo

  11. Faith, I just love the idea of making two cupcakes. My daughter and I couldn’t resist…we jumped right into the kitchen to whip these up! So, after devouring them, I can tell you that they were the most incredibly moist, chocolatey and satisfying cupcake I’ve ever had. Really. The texture was amazing…light with an awesome moist crumb. I will be making these again and again! Thank you so much!

    1. Caroline, Yay!!! So glad you and your daughter enjoyed them – totally made my day! :)

  12. I absolutely adore that you made this recipe “for two”. I love making sweets for us, but a dozen cupcakes is always overbearing!!! And these are so pretty, too. I’ll be keeping these in mind next time I’m craving chocolate!

    Happy weekend, Faith!

  13. i like to accommodate vegans, but i don’t like to keep weird, never-to-be-used-again ingredients in my kitchen. this is a great recipe!

  14. These look wonderful and I bet they taste the same! I like that you scaled it back to make it for two :)

  15. We should make a cake snob club, Faith, and we could be the presidents. :D I feel the same way! I would really rather not even take a bite of sub-par cake-it’s not worth even tasting. Down with Walmart cake! ha! Your cupcakes do look superb! I’m wondering about how long it took to come up with the recipe and how much experimenting you had to do. (It takes me forever and sometimes I have to give up b/c I never get it right.) Did you also try it with vinegar and then omitted it b/c this one is better? I was trying to figure out what activated the soda without an acid but then realized that cocoa powder itself would do it, right? I’m also wondering if you tried this with baking powder and what the difference was. I have been amazed at the difference simply changing the leavener in a recipe will make.

    1. Veronica, Like I mentioned in the recipe, be sure to use natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed). Dutch-processed cocoa powder is treated with an alkali to neutralize its acids; however, natural cocoa powder is acidic, which activates the baking soda.

  16. Sometimes you just need a little treat without having an extra dozen or so cupcakes sitting on the counter tempting you. What a great recipe! :)

  17. What a nice chocolatey treat and I love the frosting you came up with using your homemade spread. It’s hard to find a good vegan cake recipe, so I’m so glad to have this to try.

  18. I am a chocoholic so I would love this. Have a good weekend Diane

  19. Urban Wife says:

    Pinned and making for an after-dinner dessert tonight. I love “for 2” recipes because a) less ingredients get used and b) my thighs thank me and c) I don’t have to put leftovers in the freezer, just to eat them the next day.
    Yup, enough said. :)

  20. Your cupcakes look soooo darn good! I’d like a bite…pleeeease! :-)
    I’m with you on the dry, bland cakes…blah!

  21. This is awesome! I love the idea of just making two and tossing them in oven along with dinner when the oven is already on. I can’t wait to try these (and I know my husband is going to be super excited!)

  22. I’m totally book marking this and making it when I need a dessert for just J and I. Perfection

  23. Fabulous! I never make cakes – or cupcakes for that matter – for the sole purpose that there would be a TON of leftovers; so this recipe for two is perfect!

  24. Awesome that you made it for 2 – one reason I rarely make sweets is because the yield is always so huge, and we are just 2 people at Casa Trix!

  25. Divine! That wulnut mousse frosting is interesting.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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