Lapsang Souchong Chocolate Cupcakes

With New Year’s Eve fast approaching, I knew I needed to post some treat that would be appropriate for any New Year’s Eve party, whether it be glamorous or cozy. While I did have a whole host of recipes planned to post during the last days of the holiday season, life got in the way just a little bit, between opening the show, and recovering from the show (which also includes reconnecting with all of the friends I haven’t had a chance to see since all my time was spent in rehearsal). While New Year’s isn’t huge here (though Tel Avivians generally seem to love a good party no matter the occasion), I’m highly considering making these again, even if my plans are to have a quiet night with friends.

Last of the lapsang souchong (or somehow the other photos I took of these didn't save)

Last of the lapsang souchong (or somehow the other photos I took of these didn’t save)

So never fear, Lapsang Souchong Chococolate Cupcakes are here! These cupcakes were invented as part of my original Tipsy Shades concept, which I made for my graduation party in June. I wanted a combination that would be complimentary, but somewhat unexpected, and I also wanted to make some use of food trends (vegan and non), namely: coconut bacon. The cake is a beautiful, rich chocolate cake, with an added complexity from the smokiness of the lapsang souchong tea. What is lapsang souchong you ask? Well, it is a black tea from China that is dried with smoke, which gives it a distinctly smokey aroma (and slightly smokey flavor). Considering how big chocolate covered bacon and the like are these days, I figured the smokiness of the tea would find a nice home within the chocolate cake, and I was right. The cake was then filled with a bourbon spiked caramel filling, topped with bourbon caramel frosting, and sprinkled with coconut bacon.

Scenes from New Years past, Central Park Midnight Run 2012

Scenes from New Years past: with my friend Alex, before the Midnight Run 2012

Now, I’ve had some coconut bacons that were simply toasted large flaked coconut. I also have heard of premade coconut bacon being available for purchase, but since I already had large flake coconut on hand, I figured it would be easy enough to make myself. I mixed together a few tablespoons of tamari, and a teaspoon or two of liquid smoke, and then set the coconut in it to marinate for maybe an hour or so. Sitting that long is the mixture was unplanned, but the results were delicious! I baked the marinated coconut in a toaster oven at 350 degrees for maybe 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the flakes had dried out. The results were so good, I was worried that I wouldn’t have any left to actually top the cupcakes with. While I can’t tell you what “real” bacon tastes like, I found the flavor of the coconut bacon to be very similar to Morning Star Farms veggie bacon (not vegan), which is what I grew up on. It sure was nice to find such an easy replacement to a childhood favorite.

Central Park, waiting for midnight

Central Park, waiting for midnight

The bacon was the perfect topping for the cupcake, tying together the smokey notes in the cake, and balancing the sweetness of the caramel frosting. Really, I can’t wait to make these again.

Lapsang Souchong Chocolate Cake (adapted from VCTOTW)

  • 1 c non dairy milk
  • 4 lapsang souchong tea bags, or 2 tbsp loose leaf
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c cocoa powder, (I prefer Cocoa Rouge)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill a muffin pan with liners. Heat non dairy milk in a small saucepan over medium until almost boiling. Add tea bags, cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. When ready, squeeze as much excess milk from the tea as possible. Discard the tea. If there is less than 1 c of tea milk, add a little more to equal 1 full cup. Add the vinegar to the milk and let sit for a minute or so.

Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract to the milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl. sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to the wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few small ones are ok).

Pour into liners, filling three-quarters of the way. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

4 miles complete!

4 miles complete!

Bourbon Caramel

  • 1 c sugar
  • 6 tbsp vegan margarine (I prefer Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 c coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp bourbon
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Melt the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until completely melted using a wooden or metal utensil (plastic will melt and that makes gross caramel). After it is completely melted, stop stirring, and cook until it is a deep caramel color. When it reaches this color, add the margarine and whisk until combined, then add the coconut cream, bourbon and the salt. The caramel may bubble violently when the cream is added, but don’t fear, just stir until the sauce is smooth. Let cool.

Caramel buttercream

  • 1/4 c vegan margarine
  • 1/4 c non-hydrogenated shortening
  • 1 3/4 c confectioners sugar
  • 2 tbsp Caramel Sauce
  • 1 tbsp bourbon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the margarine and shortening together until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat again until well combined. Add the caramel sauce, bourbon and vanilla, and continue beating until smooth and creamy. If the buttercream is too thick, feel free to add more caramel sauce (or more bourbon if you’re into that sort of thing).

Assembly:

Using your pinky finger or a chopstick, poke a hole into the top of the cupcake, and move it around to make a little space. Using a squeeze bottle or pastry bag, fill the cupcake with caramel sauce. Top with a small dollop of the buttercream, and then sprinkle with coconut bacon. Devour and repeat.

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