These cupcakes are fluffy and richly flavored, with a sweet surprise in the center. They're also healthier than your average cupcake recipe, since they leave out the dairy. Yet you'd be hard pressed to guess they're vegan!
The cupcakes feature a strawberry filling, but you can change this up depending on what fruits you like best, or that are in season. Everything from berries to apples to mango or peaches would work well as a delightful filling! It is important to note, especially with strawberries, that you want to go organic. Strawberries are high up on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen, for produce you definitely don't want to eat if it is grown conventionally.
I recommend you substitute vegetable oil with applesauce for a healthier version. The applesauce adds more sweetness, so if you're keen on a darker chocolate flavor and aren't worried about the fat content then go with the oil. You can also try grapeseed oil, or if you'd enjoy a slight coconut flavor with your chocolate, try using coconut oil instead.
And finally, these cupcakes taste better after they've cooled off, so wait to dive in until they're at least room temperature. And they're really best the next day. For some reason, their flavor seems to deepen and they get even more sweet and chocolate-y over the course of a day or two (if they last that long).

Prep time: 35 min  

Cook time: 25 min  

Total time: 60 min  

Yeild: 2-2.5 dozen cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Filling (vegan)


For the cupcakes, followed by strawberry filling ingredients which starts with strawberries:

  • 3 cups flour (a gluten-free multi-flour blend will also work in place of wheat flour)
  • 6 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 Tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 cups raw cane sugar
  • 0.5 cups brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 10 Tbsl vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 cups fresh diced organic strawberries
  • 0.5 cups raw cane sugar
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch (and maybe 1 extra teaspoon depending on total thickness)
making cupcakes

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, sugar and salt until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Form a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Add the oil (or applesauce if substituting), vanilla extract, lemon juice and cold water. Stir until completely combined and free of lumps.
  4. Grease the muffin tins with oil or nonstick spray, or line with parchment cups. Fill each well to about three-quarters full.
  5. Place the muffin tins in the center rack of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  6. While the cupcakes are baking, start your strawberry filling. Over medium heat, add the chopped strawberries to a saucepan and stir constantly as they heat up and begin to soften.
  7. When the strawberries are mostly liquid, add the sugar and corn starch. Continue to stir constantly for a few minutes more as the mixture thickens to a jelly-like in consistency.
  8. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
  9. When the cupcakes are done -- check that a toothpick inserted in the center of one cupcake comes out clean -- transfer the tins to a wire rack to cool.
  10. After the cupcakes have cooled, prepare them for the filling. Using a paring knife, cut a cone out of the top of each cupcake, going deep enough to allow plenty of filling but not so deep that you cut through to the bottom.
  11. Remove the cone and fill the space with the strawberry mix almost to the top but not quite.
  12. Cut the "iceberg" portion off the cone you pulled from the cupcake so you have just the thin disk for the top and replace the "lid" over the strawberry filling. The leftover portions of cupcake cones are perfect for snacking while you work!
  13. Decorate with a little powdered sugar or sliced strawberries, and serve.

chocolate cupcakes with powdered sugar and strawberry slices

Related posts on MNN:

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Filling (vegan)
Rich and chocolatey, these cupcake hide a fruit surprise inside!