My husband enjoyed the “accidentally vegan” Betty Crocker butter pecan cake mix cupcakes that I made with canned pumpkin and chocolate chips (no other ingredients) a couple weeks ago, so I decided to make something like that again. This time, I made a vegan cake mix variation for Valentine’s with applesauce, water, and just egg instead of the usual can of pumpkin.
I noticed this Pillsbury Funfetti cake with bits of pink candy in it at Target, as part of their Valentine’s display. It was only about two dollars and appeared to be accidentally vegan, so I decided to give it a whirl.
I didn’t want to use the usual can of pumpkin because it didn’t seem like it would go with the Valentine’s theme / pink candy flavor. I googled applesauce as a cake mix substitution and found some useful tips from Robin Rescue. I found some other ideas on how to veganize cake mixes from Nikki Vegan. This article about using Just Egg for baking was helpful, too.
On the back of the box, Pilsbury notes that one could swap out, applesauce for the oil, or (and with emphasis on the “or,” meaning DON’T do both), one could swap out Greek yogurt for the eggs. I thought that was a pretty cool idea. If I had had some of that Kite Hill plain unsweetened protein yogurt, I would’ve tried that. I didn’t have any, though. We did have some just egg available so that’s what I used. I figured that would be very similar to real eggs. And I did use the applesauce instead of the oil because we had the applesauce on hand.
When I have made cupcakes with just the can of pumpkin and the cake mix in the past, I simply mixed the batter with a wooden spoon. (I did not use any kind of mixer with beaters). Honestly, I had enjoyed the simplicity of it. However, I had been reading that if one does use a mixer and beaters to mix cake batter, it can make the final product turn out lighter and not so dense.
Since I was using these substitutions, I figured my batter could use all the lift it could get. It has been many years since I’ve used my hand mixer, but I got it out, and it worked just fine. Actually, mixing the cake batter with the mixer was kind of fun and satisfying somehow. I had forgotten about that aspect of it!
The texture of these Valentine’s Funfetti cupcakes was lighter than when I had made it in the past, with just the canned pumpkin, and only mixing with the wooden spoon. However, the cupcakes were not as light as what I recall cupcakes, being like, if one uses the eggs and oil, like what is recommended on the back of the cake mix box. Still the cupcakes were plenty nice enough. We devoured them in record time.
By the way, I don’t put frosting on my cupcakes because I’m trying to cut down on sugar. And, my husband doesn’t like super sweet desserts anyway. However, I’ve been putting these accidentally vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips from Trader Joe’s on top so at least they have a little bit of decoration. I simply push the chocolate chips in to the batter before baking. These chocolate chips are a little bit bitter, but I don’t mind.
Come to think of it, I’m not sure if three (3) chocolate chips per cupcake would have less sugar than a usual amount of frosting on a cupcake! Oh well, even if it’s not less sugar, at least the chocolate chips are quick and easy. Works for me!
One last thing, this was my first time using these heart-shaped silicone miniature cupcake molds. I found them at the Valentine’s Day display at Target, too (not cheap, this was a splurge!). I was doubtful that these would work for cupcakes, but they do! I put a small amount of Pam cooking spray in each little heart mold and smooshed it around with a paper towel, to evenly coat these, before I put the batter in.
I’ve recently been looking at recipes for vegan truffles, and that’s actually why I bought these. For creamy chocolate truffles … these heart shaped molds might be just the right size.