Every Easter since I can remember, my Oma has prepared a lamb-shaped vanilla cake covered in frosting and shredded coconut (and yes, it looks as strange as it sounds). I don’t recall anyone ever digging into the thing, but year after year it graced our Easter lunch table with all it’s coconut covered glory, anyway. Since I don’t have a lamb shaped cake pan, I decided to pay homage to that cake by preparing a similar recipe in cupcake form — sans eggs and dairy, and complete with naturally colored coconut sprinkles.
The thing I love most about this recipe is that it uses just one bowl and you can utilize the baking time to prep the coconut sprinkles and frosting, then clean up the mess before the cupcakes even come out of the oven. If you’re going to be traveling for Easter but don’t have a way to transport the cupcakes, simply quarter each cupcake and stuff it into a mason jar. Top with frosting and sprinkles and Voilà! Transportable cupcakes.
If you don’t have coconut oil on hand, feel free to replace it with melted vegan butter or canola oil. This recipe works wonderfully with soy milk, so go ahead and use that in place of the almond milk if that’s what you’ve got in your refrigerator. If you have almond extract in your pantry, replace 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla extract with the almond variety (trust me, it’s delicious). As for the frosting, it’s best when made with equal parts vegan butter and shortening, but you can use one or the other if that’s all you’ve got.
If you’d prefer sprinkle colors different from the ones I use below, feel free to use blueberry juice for blue sprinkles, purple grape juice for purple sprinkles, golden beet juice for yellow sprinkles, or red beet juice for red sprinkles. And if you can’t get your hands on matcha powder for the green coloring, substitute 1 teaspoon of kale or spinach juice in place of the matcha powder and water.
Vanilla Cupcakes with Coconut Sprinkles
Makes 10 cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
- 3/4 cup cane sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup refined coconut oil, melted
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/4 teaspoon matcha powder + 1 teaspoon water
- 1 teaspoon cherry juice, or other red colored juice
- 1 teaspoon carrot juice, or other orange colored juice
- 1/2 cup vegan butter
- 1/2 cup non-hyrdogenated shortening
- 2 cups powdered cane sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with 10 paper liners; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder; whisk to evenly combine. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil, almond milk, and vanilla exact; whisk just until combined and until no large clumps remain. Be careful not to over-mix. Divide the batter evenly between the paper liners, about 1/4 cup of batter each. Bake at 350˚F for 20-22 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Prepare the sprinkles by adding the matcha powder and water to one bowl, the cherry juice to a second bowl, and the carrot juice to another bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of shredded coconut to each bowl and mix until the coconut is evenly colored. Let the coconut sit for about an hour, until it’s somewhat dry.
Prepare the frosting by creaming together the butter, shortening, and powdered sugar. Add the vanilla extract and almond milk and mix until light and fluffy. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes using a number 846 tip or just slather it on with a spoon (it all tastes the same). Then top with coconut sprinkles. Cupcakes will keep covered for up to two days.
*If you plan on storing them for a day or two, frost just before serving.
Photo credit: Ashlae Warner