These vanilla dairy free cupcakes are so delicious, flavorful and moist, you will never miss the dairy! For the frosting, I skipped the imitation butter that many recipes use, and made a luscious dairy free dark chocolate whipped ganache instead.
Using Coconut Oil instead of Butter
When creating this dairy free recipe, I decided to adapt my usual cupcake recipe to use coconut oil instead of butter. Coconut oil is a little similar to butter in that it is very temperature sensitive. It will start to liquefy if the temperature is over 78°F (25°C), or 76°F (24°C) if you are using a virgin coconut oil (less refined).
The recipe will work regardless of whether it is soft or liquid. As long as your coconut oil is at room temperature, it will be fine.
Depending on your coconut oil, it might impart a coconut flavor to the cupcakes. It blends well with the chocolate and is almost undetectable after the frosting is added.
Since coconut oil has a much higher fat content, I also had to adjust the amount of liquid added to the batter. I used room temperature water, which worked perfectly. You can also choose to use almond milk or coconut milk. If you want to use coconut cream or another liquid with fat in it, you will have to adjust the amount of coconut oil you use.
Dark Chocolate Whipped Ganache
Rather than make a dairy free buttercream, I made a dark chocolate ganache using almond milk instead of cream. I also used Enjoy Life dairy free chocolate chips. Since there is a lot less fat in almond milk, the ratio of this ganache needs to be two parts chocolate to one part almond milk. This gives the right consistency for whipping and piping.
If you want to make a vanilla flavored frosting, you can use a dairy free or vegan white chocolate. Just use three parts white chocolate to one part almond milk. If it still seems off, you might have to adjust your ratios depending on what brand of chocolate you are using.
Making the Cupcakes
Preparing the Ganache
Start by making the ganache, since it will need to cool down for a while to get to the correct temperature for whipping. I used the Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips, which cuts down on prep time. If you are using a dairy free chocolate bar, chop or grate it into small pieces.
In small saucepan or saucier, heat the almond milk until it is almost boiling. Remove it from the heat and, all at once, add the chocolate to the almond milk. Make sure all the chocolate is submerged, and let the saucepan sit for about 10-15 minutes.
Then, beat the mixture until it is fully combined. All of the chocolate should be melted and it should end up as a shiny, thick liquid ganache.
Let the ganache sit for a few hours. As it cools, it will thicken. You'll want to whip it when it gets to the consistency of peanut butter.
Preparing the Batter
First, prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners and preheat the oven. Then whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. You could also use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Once those dry ingredients are combined, add the soft or liquidy coconut oil and mix until everything is combined. You are coating the flour with the coconut oil here, so mix until you can no longer see the coconut oil. It should end up being a sandy texture.
Then, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg is added. Add the vanilla and mix well. Finally, add the water and mix until everything is combined. Take a minute to scrape down the bowl if you're using a stand mixer. Then mix for another 30 seconds to strengthen the structure of the batter.
Baking the Cupcakes
Portion the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each one about halfway. I use a #16 disher for scooping out cupcake batter. It is the same volume as ¼ cup, but easier to use.
Bake at 350°F (177°C/gas mark 4) for around 22 minutes. You can check on them at the 20 minute mark. When done, the cupcakes should spring back into shape when touched lightly with your finger. The internal temperature will be 205°F (96°C).
Frosting the Cupcakes
Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack. Once they are room temperature, and the ganache is thick like peanut butter, you are ready to frost.
Fit a piping bag with a closed star piping tip if you want to pipe a rosette like the one in the photos. You could also use an ice cream scoop and small offset spatula to scoop and spread the frosting on.
Place the ganache into a bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. I recommend an electric mixer or stand mixer for whipping. (If you don't have one, you can use a whisk, but it will be a challenge!) Just whip the ganache until it becomes light and aerated, about a minute or two.
Fill the piping bag about halfway with the whipped ganache. Twist it closed at the top. You can clip it closed with a chip clip, or just keep it twisted with your hand as you squeeze the bag. To pipe the rosette, start piping in the center and pipe in a swirl outwards.
Top with some sprinkles and you're done!
Other Recipes You Might Like
- Raspberry Lemon Marshmallows are a dairy and gluten free treat
- Substitute coconut oil for the butter in these Fudgy Brownies to make them dairy free
- Use coconut oil in these airy Swedish Dream Cookies instead of the butter
Did You Make This Recipe?
I would love to know if you made this recipe! How did you like the moist but light texture of the cupcake? If you tried it, please leave me a star rating or comment below. It helps out so much and I would really appreciate it!
Vanilla Dairy Free Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache Frosting
- Muffin tin and cupcake liners
- Stand mixer or electric mixer (optional but recommended)
- Mixing bowls
- Ice cream scoop (#16 disher - optional)
- Piping bag with closed star tip, or an offset spatula for frosting
- Small saucepan, or microwaveable bowl for the ganache
- 250 g flour (2 cups)
- 300 g sugar (1.5 cups)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 162 g coconut oil (¾ cup) - room temperature
- 3 eggs - room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 118 ml water (½ cup)
- 283 g dairy free chocolate - see Notes
- 142 g almond milk (⅔ cup)
- Line your muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C/gas mark 4).
Make the Ganache
- If you are not using chocolate chips, use a cheese grater or knife to chop up your chocolate into very small pieces. The smaller the better, as they will melt faster.
- In a small saucepan or in the microwave in a heat safe bowl, heat the almond milk until it is bubbling around the sides and almost boiling. Remove it from the heat.
- All at once, add the chocolate to the hot almond milk. You can push it down with a spoon to make sure it is all submerged under the almond milk.
- Let the mixture sit for about 10-15 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt.
- Once the chocolate is melted you can use a whisk to emulsify the ganache. Whisk it until everything is combined into a thick, shiny liquid.
- Set the ganache aside to cool for several hours. You will want to work with it when it is the consistency of peanut butter, or a warm room temperature.
Make the Cupcake Batter
- Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix until well combined.
- Add the room temperature coconut oil to the flour mixture. It's ok if it's liquidy, as long as it's soft and not cold. Mix until well combined and it becomes a sandy texture.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Add the vanilla and mix well.
- Add the water and mix until completely combined. If you are using a stand mixer, you can add the water while it is running on low speed.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then mix for an additional 30 seconds.
- Portion out the cupcake batter into the prepared liners, filling them about halfway. I use a ¼ cup ice cream scoop (#16 disher) so they are all the same size.
- Bake the cupcakes for about 22 minutes. You can check them at the 20 minute mark. They will be done when the internal temperature is 205°F (96°C). They will spring back when lightly touched with your finger.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Frost the Cupcakes
- Prepare a piping bag by fitting it with a closed star tip. (You could also opt to spread the frosting on with an offset spatula.)
- Use an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to whip the ganache. Whip it for a minute or two, until it is light and aerated.
- If you are using the piping bag, fill it about halfway with the ganache and twist the top to close. Pipe a swirl on each cupcake starting from the center to the outside.
- Add dairy free sprinkles to the top for some extra pretty!
- Unlike many cupcakes, these actually improve in texture overnight. You can store them at room temperature for 2-3 days.
- If you want to keep them for longer, you will need to freeze them, as the refrigerator will dry them out. Put them in the freezer for 10 minutes just to set the frosting. Then individually wrap each cupcake and place them in an airtight container in the freezer.