Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting (Vegan)

YumSquad-Banner-MysteryIngredient-espresso FullSizeRender *CONTEST TIME* As part of the #YumSquad, @peanutbutterco presented us with a #MysteryIngredient Challenge. I got instant espresso! I went ahead and made some really tasty chocolate espresso cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter frosting, shaved @tazachocolate (coffee flavor), and a couple of coffee beans! Now it’s your turn! Show me how you enjoy @peanutbutterco peanut butter and espresso. You have until Saturday, March 14th to post. Winner will be announced on Monday, March 16th and you’ll receive FREE peanut butter! Some additional rules: 1. You can enter as many times as you’d like. 2. Tag me (@inesl) and Peanut Butter & Co (@peanutbutterco) in your picture. 3. Use the hashtag #MysteryIngredient to show me what you’ve got! INGREDIENTS: For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cups white flour
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup plain unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 3 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ TBS vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp instant espresso

For the frosting:

  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 or so TBS almond milk

  INSTRUCTIONS: To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) cupcake pans with 22 cupcake liners. First, mix all of the wet ingredients into a bowl (applesauce, milk, vinegar, vanilla, AND the instant espresso). Whisk and let sit for a few minutes while you prepare your dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder). Pour the wet mixture into dry mixture bowl and whisk just enough to combine. Using a soup spoon, fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full of batter. Bake about 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting. (Popping them out and putting them a wire rack helps them cool faster.) To make the frosting: Use a handheld or stand mixer to mix the shortening with the peanut butter. Keep the mixer running on low and slowly add the powdered sugar, vanilla and 1 TBS almond milk at a time, as needed, until the frosting is fluffy and spreadable. Be careful not to use too much milk or the frosting will be goopy and not spread well. Beat all the ingredients together for another minute. To assemble the cupcakes: Use a small spatula or spoon to frost the cupcakes. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings and garnish with coffee beans. Enjoy!

4 Ingredient Protein Pancakes


*serves one


  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • nondairy milk
  • baking powder


  1. In a magic bullet or fancy blender, blend the oats to make a flour.
  2. Transfer to a bowl. Add the protein powder and sprinkle some baking powder (this will make them fluffy) and slowly add milk until you get a pancake-like batter. You want to make sure you don’t add too much because then it will be runny and you’ll have to add more oats or flour.
  3. Spray a pan with coconut oil spray and turn heat on. Let the pan warm up on medium heat, then pour batter to make 3-4 pancakes.
  4. When the edges are turning brown, flip and cook the other side until it’s not soft in the middle. (I usually smush my finger in it to make sure)

The following are optional but I always add them for flavor:

  • Splash of vanilla
  • Cinnamon or a pinch of nutmeg/allspice/pumpkin pie spice
  • Nut butter
  • 1 packet of stevia
  • Fresh fruit is okay but frozen makes it too soggy

I use vanilla protein powder and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Depending on those choices, you could make other flavored pancakes and get more creative but this is the very basic recipe.


00c25d0281ef11e380ce124269d1691e_8 3c7d271a8e7811e381f5124755e97c4e_8 c058cf44837911e39142121b2bfc92a6_8


Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Carrot Spice Cookies




  • 1/2 cup melted margarine
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 flax egg (3 TBSP water + 1 TBSP ground flax seeds)
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • 1 ½ cups quick cooking rolled oats, uncooked
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins soaked in water for about 10mins


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix wet ingredients in one bowl until properly combined. Ideally, sifted but if you don’t have one – eh. Set aside.
  3. Mix dry ingredients in another bowl. Add wet ingredients and combine.
  4. Stir in walnuts, carrots and raisins.
  5. Spoon balls of the dough onto parchment paper and flatten a little bit.
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes OR until the edges are a little brown.
  7. Remove from tray with a spatula and transfer to a cooling rack VERY carefully. They’ll be a little mushy but will harden in the cooling process.
  8. Let cool!

Almendrados (Almond Cookies)

Almendrados are a flourless almond cookie from my hometown in Portugal, Aveiro. Even though I’m Portuguese I was never a huge fan of the food (probably why going vegan wasn’t so hard) but I do very much miss our amazing pastries. Unfortunately, every single thing has like 28730372515 eggs in it. These are SO good and so simple!



  • 1 ½ cups almond meal
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • a little less than 1tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1tbs warm water
  • dash of salt
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 12 whole blanched almonds


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Follow the directions for the EnerG egg and set aside for about five minutes. (It’s important to give this enough time to set.)
  3. Sift together the almond meal, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, water and egg.
  4. Stir until the dough begins to form a ball. (This will take a couple of minutes and you’ll wonder how in the world it will happen but before you know it, you will have dough!)
  5. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.
  6. Shape the dough into 12 little balls and flatten them on the cookie tray, about an inch apart, with a little indentation in the middle.
  7. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  8. Gently press one whole almond into the center of the cookie.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes, EXACTLY, the edges will be a golden brown. DO NOT OVERBAKE!!! When you take them out, the centers will be slightly mushy. You will even think they are not cooked but PLEASE trust me, they will harden.
  10. Cool them on the pans for about 5 minutes then use a spatula and move to wire racks.


One Bowl Apple Cake

photo 1

This cake kind of tastes like the filling from an apple tart, so it’s basically that just without a crust. Regardless, warm it up with some cinnamon and a scoop of apple pie – voila! Or, stick a graham cracker underneath for some crunch but it’s not needed.


  • ¾ cup applesauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • 6 small apples (I used Granny Smith, Gala or Fiji would be fine, too)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 1tsp nutmeg
  • dash of ginger
  • dash of allspice
  • 1tbs vanilla



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a very large bowl mix the applesauce, sugar, spices, vanilla, and oil.
  3. Meanwhile, peel and slice the apples and add to the mixture in the bowl. You’ll want to keep coating them so they don’t turn brown or just take half a lemon and squeeze some lemon juice over them while you’re peeling and slicing the rest of the apples.
  4. Stir in the baking soda and flour to the bowl.
  5. Mix well until all of the flour is absorbed and everything is combined.
  6. Pour in a pie pan or another greased round pan.  (I garnished with some oats and walnuts but, not necessary. Could probably mix in raisins or nuts, too.)
  7. Bake for about an hour or until the top is brown, has risen and is no longer soft in the middle. (Test that a toothpick comes out clean, to be sure.)
  8. Let cool and serve!

photo 2 photo 3

Three Layer Chocolate Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting

photo 3

I don’t preface any of my recipes but this one really needs some notes. I generally avoid recipes that require me to do anything overnight. (This is why I have never made vegan ice cream yet. Boo! I’m telling you all, I’m the laziest vegan there is!)  This was for someone’s birthday so I figured I’d plan a little bit. Here’s what you need to do in advance:

  1. Buy several cans of FULL FAT coconut cream and keep them in the fridge. Just keep them there. Seriously. I used to buy a bunch and keep them in the pantry but then I’d see a recipe that would require me to cool a can and I instantly regretted just not sticking them in there to begin with. So, do that. And, no, you can’t get away with sticking it in the fridge at 5:00pm and expecting it to be ready by 8:00pm when you’re done baking. Put the cans of coconut cream in the fridge the night before you plan on baking this! 
  2. Okay, that’s one night.  The next thing is that I would really recommend baking the cakes and making the frosting the day before you actually need it (we’ve now spent two days on cake…). It could possibly come together if you assemble it and then serve immediately but the chilling of the cake is super important, I think.
  3. This is not the type of cake that you bring somewhere and let it sit out. It must always be refrigerated! Please don’t make this then bring it a picnic in August. In Arizona.
  4. It freezes well, FYI  ;)

Now, let’s make a cake!

*Makes three 8” round cake

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups warm coffee
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bags of coconut shreds (set aside)

Cake Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together coffee, coconut oil, vanilla, and vinegar.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
  5. Divide batter evenly between the three pans, give each a little shake to smooth out and bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cakes cool slightly before removing them from the pans, THEN remove from pans and transfer to cooling wire racks to let cool completely. Please don’t try to take them out immediately!!!

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut cream, chilled overnight
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons confectioners sugar

Frosting Directions

  1. Remove the can of coconut cream from the fridge and scoop the cream into a large bowl, for mixing.  (The fat from the milk will rise to the top. Leave any watery juice behind (you can save this or just discard it).)
  2. Add vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat on high until stiff. This takes a while… It won’t be super thick like a traditional buttercream, hence why I stress the need to chill.
  3. Taste and adjust accordingly. Refrigerate coconut whipped cream overnight.

*I actually used two cans for mine but I think it was too much. I had a LOT left over (it goes great on coffee, oatmeal, ice cream…fyi lol) so if you feel that it doesn’t seem like enough, you’ll be glad I made you put that extra can in there. Frosting goes a long way, though, so one should be fine.

Cake Assembly

  1. Place parchment paper around the edge of a nice cake plate, so that you can put one cake layer on top and easily slide out the paper. This will allow for you to just pull out the paper and make for easy clean up with the frosting.
  2. Place one layer of cake on the plate. If there is a hump on the top of the cake, trim it off with a long serrated knife to make it flat.
  3. Frost the top with an even layer of the coconut cream and add a lot of coconut shreds to cover the frosting.
  4. Be sure to flatten the top of the second layer of cake BEFORE adding it to the cake on the plate. Once it’s flat, stack the layers  and repeat with the frosting and coconut.
  5. Add the final cake layer and you can leave this layer nice and rounded at the top. Frost the top and sides, adding coconut as desired (this will be messy).
  6. Frosting might very well be dripping everywhere and it’s probably soft and gooey and this is why I think it should be placed baked in the refrigerator and chilled until it’s time to serve.

This isn’t the prettiest thing I’ve ever made but it’s certainly one of the best tasting. It’s messy but delicious. I’m sure you can do this with cupcakes, too.

photo 1 photo 4

Pecan, Cranberry Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash



  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 cup dry tri-color quinoa
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 4-5 celery stalks, diced
  • 1tbs dried thyme
  • ½ tbs coriander


*Serves 4

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2.  Slice the acorn squash in half and, using a spoon, remove all the seeds.
  3.  Line a baking sheet with foil (I promise, this makes clean up so much easier). Brush the squash with a little coconut oil or spray with nonstick spray and place cut side down on the foil.
  4. Bake until the outside skin is tender to the touch.
  5. Meanwhile, pour the orange juice and veggie brother into a pot along with the 1 cup uncooked quinoa and bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it starts to boil, cover and simmer for about 20mins or until all of the liquid is absord.
  6. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Diced the celery stalks into little pieces and measure out your pecans, cranberries and spices.
  8. Dump everything into the pot with the quinoa and stir.
  9.  Once the squash is cooked and beautifully caramelized, scoop some of the quinoa mixture into the cavity and serve!

This would also pair well with a few slices or granny smith apple and/or drizzled with some maple syrup!