How to Make Vegan Cupcakes for Halloween

We’re not making juice, though, we’re making cupcakes

By Clara Polito, Vogue

Clara Polito is a vegan baker, owner of Clara Cakes, and author of the Clara Cakes cookbook.

If you aren’t aware of the charcoal powder craze, it’s a thing. It’s in everything from juice to face masks. While charcoal powder doesn’t add a distinct flavor to juices. it discreetly helps detoxify your body.
We’re not making juice, though, we’re making cupcakes. Pinhead cupcakes to be exact. I love using charcoal powder in baking because of its ability to color batters and frostings from light grey to black without any watery pigmentation that traditional food coloring tends to have.

This Pinhead Cupcake is a charcoal cake base, filled with an au natural guts filling thanks to strawberries. It’s topped with charcoal frosting, and poked with “Pins” made from toasted slivered almonds. I love the idea of sourcing all the decorations from natural, edible ingredients and this cupcake is the result! Who knew a Pinhead would perfectly sweet, fluffy, and a little salty?


Charcoal Cupcake Batter:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1.5 tablespoons charcoal powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk 1/4 cup soymilk 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons canola oil 1 tablespoon apple cider or coconut vinegar


Strawberry Filling, AKA Guts:

1 1/4 cups chopped strawberries 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon lemon juice dash of salt

Toasted Almond Pins:

1/2 cup skinned, slivered almonds 1 tablespoon melted vegan butter 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 tablespoon charcoal powder

Charcoal Frosting

1/2 cup shortening 1/2 cup vegan butter 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar 3/4 teaspoon charcoal powder, 1/5 tablespoon charcoal powder for later 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

Cake Batter Instructions:

1.) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a muffin pan with twelve cupcake liners. I suggest black, purple, red, or orange for the liners to go with a Halloween theme.

2.) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, soymilk, and apple cider vinegar. Set aside for a few minutes.

3.) Add the charcoal powder to the milk and vinegar mixture. Whisk until completely combined, leaving no powder clumps behind.

4.) Add the sugar, canola oil, and vanilla extract to the charcoal milk mixture and whisk until smooth.

3.) Place a mesh strainer above the mixing bowl containing the wet ingredients. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt onto the mesh strainer. Use a spoon to press the dry ingredients against the strainer, making sure they all get through.
4.) Remove the mesh strainer. Using a rubber spatula, gently combine the dry ingredients into the wet. Whisk until no large clumps remain, small bumps are okay.

5.) Using an ice cream scooper, scoop cupcake batter into cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way full. Place in oven and bake for about 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the middle.

6.) Transfer cupcakes from muffin pan to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Filling Instructions:

1.) Place the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a small saucepan and cook on medium heat until strawberries have cooked down and the mixture has thickened. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from heat. Transfer sauce to a bowl and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

Almond Pins Instructions:

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.) Place melted butter and sugar in a medium bowl and stir together.

3.) Add the charcoal powder to the butter and sugar and still until completely combined. Add the slivered almonds and coat (using a rubber spatula or a spoon) until coated in the charcoal sugar.

4.) Transfer almonds onto baking sheet and bake for about 7-10 minutes, or until they look toasted or smell like they’re well done, like two more minutes and they’d be burnt.

5.) When done baking, set almonds aside and allow to cool on baking sheet.

Frosting Instructions:

1.) Using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer on low to then medium speed, blend the butter and shortening together until light and creamy

2.) Add the powdered sugar and charcoal powder. Mix on medium speed until it’s smooth. Scrape the sides really well.

3.) Add in the vanilla extract, blend on medium speed. The frosting should become light about a minute in. If graininess persists, add more soymilk and mix on high.

4.) Set aside about 1/4 of the frosting and place in separate bowl. Stir in 1.5 tablespoons charcoal powder, creating a black frosting.

5.) Place a #5 frosting tip in a pastry bag and cut the tip of pastry bag off using scissors. Fill bag with the black charcoal frosting.


1.) Using a knife, cut a quarter sized circle on the center of the cupcake. Take the cake hole out, and discard.

2.) Fill the cupcake with 1/2 tablespoon of the strawberry filling.

3.) Frost the top of the cupcake with the light gray charcoal frosting, the flatter the frosting, the better.

4.) Using the non-sharp side of a butterknife, press horizontal lines, then vertical lines onto frosting, creating a grid on the frosting. Coat the knife with the strawberry filling and go back over each line with it.

5.) Pipe small eyes, a nose (I do a slightly curved, small line for the nose), and mouth (almost an open cylinder shape) onto the grid frosting.

6.) Place almond pins across the whole cupcake. You may have to break each almond sliver apart since they tend to cook together when baked.


Note: If you think this story need more information or correction, feel free to comment below your opinion and reaction.
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Cake Magazine: How to Make Vegan Cupcakes for Halloween
How to Make Vegan Cupcakes for Halloween
We’re not making juice, though, we’re making cupcakes
Cake Magazine
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