Much more prim and proper than their deep dark chocolate cousins, these vanilla cupcakes with a chai truffle center also pack a less powerful caloric punch. The cupcake is based on a recipe from The Happy Herbivore Cookbook by Lindsay Nixon.
Vanilla Chai Truffle Cakes
1/2 cup dates, roughly chopped, soaked for a few hours
1/2 cup pecans, soaked for a few hours
1 tbsp. crystallized ginger, chopped
1/4 tsp. anise seed, ground
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup almond milk
1 cup almond milk
1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple sugar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Make the truffle filling:
Drain and rinse the dates, pecans and crystallized ginger and put them in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely ground.
Meanwhile, carefully melt the chocolate chips and the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder. When melted and combined, remove from the heat and set aside.
Spoon the mixture date/pecan mixture into a blender and add the almond milk, all of the spices and the chocolate/coconut oil mixture. Process until silky smooth. Pour into an air-tight container and refrigerate for a few hours to firm.
Make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly oil 8 muffin tins (fill the empty tins half-ful with water). In a small saucepan, slowly heat the milk and scrape the vanilla bean so that the seed paste comes out. Drop the bean into the milk. When the milk just starts to bubble around the edges, remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a smaller bowl, combine the applesauce, maple sugar and vanilla extract. Slowly whisk in the milk mixture. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the muffin tins and bake for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the muffin tins from the oven and drop truffle filling by the teaspoonful+ on top of each muffin – gently pressing the filling into the cupcake. Return the muffin tins to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the cupcake is firm and a toothpick comes out clean (from the cake, not the truffle). Let cool for a few minutes before removing cupcakes from the pan. Serve warm.
(The truffle filling would also make an excellent frosting.)