Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes
Yield: 12 servings
1 cup soy milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
⅓ cup grapeseed oil or any neutral-flavored oil
¼ cup applesauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder or any unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
1 cup vegan stick butter , slightly softened at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon peppermint extract (more if desired)
3 cups powdered sugar
2 candy canes , crushed
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill a 12-slot cupcake pan with your favorite cupcake liners.
2.In a medium mixing bowl, add the soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Combine and let sit for 10 minutes to create a vegan buttermilk. It will thicken and curdle slightly. Set aside.
3.In a large mixing bowl with a mesh strainer on top (or use a flour sifter), sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Now whisk to combine well.Set aside.
4.In the medium bowl with the buttermilk, add the oil, applesauce, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk to combine well.
5.Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the larger bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk together until just combined. Small lumps are fine.
6.Divide batter evenly among the cupcake slots until each is about ⅔ full. Bake in the oven for 20 to 24 minutes. To check for doneness, lightly press the surface—it should spring back. (You can also use a toothpick and push it through the center—it should come out clean.)
7.Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. Then let them cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before frosting.
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
1.Add the softened vegan butter to the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a medium/large stainless-steel bowl with a hand mixer). Beat until fluffy, about 30 to 60 seconds.
2.Add the peppermint and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated, about 30 to 60 seconds.
3.Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, over low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides as needed. Turn speed up to medium-high and mix until smooth and fluffy. Taste and add more sugar if needed.
4.Fill a piping bag and decorate cooled cupcakes, then top with crushed candy canes.
As the holidays approach, bookstore owner Summer Merriwether learns a dark secret in this second volume of Maggie Blackburn’s Beach Reads mystery series.
There’s no place like home for the holidays, even if home is sleepy, beachside Brigid’s Island, NC. During this season for giving, the town wakes up to a welcome throng of shoppers–and Beach Reads is no exception. But bookseller Summer Merriwether’s Christmas cheer turns to cringing fear when she uncovers a deadly secret about her late mother–a secret someone will kill to keep.
When the local library hosts a cozy mystery panel discussion, Summer learns that one of the authors on the panel based her book on an actual murder that shook Brigid’s Island thirty-five years before. Worse, she soon learns that her dearly missed mother, Hildy, took a disturbingly deep interest in the case, going so far as to collect clippings and keep a journal of the dark doings. This doesn’t jibe with Summer’s memories of her usually cheery mother at all.
Tidings get worse when Summer learns of her long-lost biological family’s involvement in the crime…and still worse when the life of the book’s author is threatened. With the help of Hildy’s plucky book club, Summer puts her scholarly smarts to work on protecting the cozy author and solving the decades-old murder.
But this ghost from Christmas past may still be deadly in the present, and if she can’t find the killer, Summer’s future will be brief.
Maggie Blackburn is the pen name of Mollie Cox Bryan. She writes cozy mysteries with edge. She’s the author of several bestselling mystery series. She’s recently released a novella mystery series: The Victoria Town Mysteries. Her book, “Goodnight Moo,” has been shortlisted for a Fresh Fiction Reader’s Choice Award. Her books have been selected as finalists for an Agatha Award and a Daphne du Maurier Award and as a Top 10 Beach Reads by Woman’s World. She makes her home at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, Va.
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