OK, it’s probably cheating to call these “three-ingredient cupcakes” when they are made of three (3) things, two of which have a rather long ingredient list. But they are vegan (at least in terms of being meat free, dairy free, egg free, honey free), and I only had to mix three things together to make them a reality!
Whoops, if we’re calling each item that one can buy in the store an “ingredient,” actually this is four (4) ingredients when you count the Pam cooking spray. However, the Pam cooking spray is something we typically have in the cabinet so I don’t really count that because it’s not something I had to buy specifically for the recipe.
Quite a while back, I heard about this idea of making cupcakes or muffins really, by mixing cake mix with a can of pure pumpkin.
I love this recipe because I don’t have to bother with pulling out a mixer and needing to wash the beaters and all of that. I just need a big bowl and a wooden spoon so I can mix together the cake mix and a can of pumpkin.
Full disclosure, this batter generally turns out rather sticky, not the creamy, easily pourable batter one would get with vegan egg replacer and oil (Going with Vegan substitutions for what is recommended on the box). However, this particular cake mix, Betty Crocker “butter pecan” pudding in the mix cake mix, actually turned out not nearly as sticky and much more manageable than other cake mixes I have used in the past.
Instead of using canned pumpkin mix, one could use canned applesauce, or vegetable oil and vegan egg replacer. Or a vegan flax egg. There are lots of options. But I like the idea of this canned pumpkin because I like the taste of pumpkin, first off, and secondly because it does add a nice dose of vitamin a and a bit of fiber without a lot of sugar.
Some people might be horrified to imagine that a good old-fashioned “American as apple pie” Betty Crocker butter pecan “pudding in the mix” cake mix might include zero dairy ingredients, zero butter, zero nuts, zero pecans and zero pudding, But that appears to be the case (unless I missed something in the ingredients list; please feel free to let me know). I don’t think it’s because of Betty Crocker trying to be un-American or a leftist. LOL. Apparently Betty Crocker figured out that the cheapest way to make something have a “butter pecan” taste was to use genetically engineered vegan ingredients. Whoopdeedoo!
The Betty Crocker butter pecan cake mix that I used was a few years old but thankfully the cupcakes or muffins or whatever you want to call them rose up just fine in the oven.
Forgot to mention: THE THIRD INGREDIENT! I added the Trader Joe’s dairy free, gluten-free, “accidentally vegan” semi-sweet chocolate chips. They are about three dollars per bag, which is a good price for vegan chocolate chips.
Instead of mixing the chocolate chips into the batter and risking that perhaps not all of the cupcakes would end up with the same number of chocolate chips (!!! Wouldn’t that be positively DREADFUL? ha ha), I tried this. Before baking, I pressed three chocolate chips into the top of each cupcake or muffin.
On some of them, you can’t see the chocolate chips because I ended up covering up some of them with more batter, so that I could use up all the batter on the 18 cupcake tins that I had. It worked out pretty well!
Thankfully, my husband liked these very much. In case you want to try this recipe, be forewarned: the cupcakes are not the same texture as cake. They are more like a muffin … ish.
This is the first time that I did this canned-pumpkin-instead-of-the-eggs-and-vegetable-oil hack with a cake mix that was “pudding in the mix.” I feel like the texture turned out a lot better! So I will be on the lookout for “pudding in the mix” cake mixes in the future.
In reality, these cupcakes should be a bit sweeter than what is called for by the mix, because canned pumpkin (I believe? Haven’t looked it up) would have more natural sugar in it, compared to what the box calls for, which is the addition of vegetable oil and eggs. Plus, I added three (exactly three! Ha ha) semi-sweet chocolate chips per muffin or cupcake.
Nonetheless, these muffin-like things somehow taste LESS SWEET than regular cupcakes. Maybe it’s because of the texture or because they don’t have icing? Or maybe it’s because of the chocolate chips being semi sweet versus full-on sweet so they add a touch of bitterness?
At any rate, my husband doesn’t like extra-sweet-tasting desserts. Hurray! So these were perfect for us. 💓