Vegan V-Day Recipe: 'Better Than ___' Cupcakes with DIY Toffee Bar Topping
This is a 100% vegan cupcake variation of what is commonly called the 'Better Than Sex' cake. I actually made this recipe more or less all by myself, using the standard recipe for the cake, but replacing each non-vegan ingredient (ie: caramel sauce, Heath bars, etc.) with a suitable and just-as-delicious vegan sub-recipe. No one that eats this is going to even begin to believe that this is vegan at all. If they think the regular 'Better Than Sex' cake is better than sex, then wait until they find out there's no eggs, butter, or dairy in there.
(Spoiler alert: You're going to blow some minds.)
Vegan 'Better Than ___' Cupcakes
(Makes 1 dozen cupcakes)
For the Cupcake:
1 box of Devil's Cake Mix (Don't worry that the box might call for oil or eggs or any of that. I'm about to teach you all an epic vegan baking hack.)
1 can of seltzer water (I wasn't kidding. Epic vegan baking hack.)
1/2 can full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar (Feel free to adjust to taste.)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
A pinch of salt
For the Caramel Drizzle: (We're going to be using the caramel sauce recipe used in my Vegan Turtle Cheesecake recipe.)
1 cup of light corn syrup (or use maple syrup or brown rice syrup)
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1 cup Silk vanilla coffee creamer
For the Heath Bar: (Hold onto this recipe if you ever want to make your own vegan Heath Bars at home!)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Earth Balance
1/3 cup light corn syrup (or use maple syrup or brown rice syrup)
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup nut butter of choice (I recommend peanut butter.)
2 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup non-dairy chocolate chips, melted (I use Ghiradelli, but Enjoy Life is also a popular non-dairy chocolate chip brand.)
For the Cool Whip:
So Delicious Dairy-Free Coco Whip (or TruWhip, both of which you should be able to find at most natural food stores)
1) First, preheat your oven to the recommended temperature on the side of the cake mix box and line a cupcake tray. (The cuter they are, the better. Cupcake baking is no joke.)
2) TO MAKE THE HEATH BAR: Take a 8 x 8 pan, line with parchment paper, and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, butter, and water together. Stir on medium heat until sugar is dissolved and butter has melted.
Once the mixture is brought to a boil, place a candy thermometer inside and do not stir. You want the temperature to reach somewhere between soft and hard crack status (this will take around 10 minutes).
At around 300 degrees, place the peanut butter into the saucepan and stir.Remove from heat and add the vanilla and baking soda. Pour into 8 x 8 pan. Allow the toffee to set for a couple of minutes. You will notice that the longer it sits, the harder it will become. You want to 'score' the candy before it completely sets so don't waste too much time letting it cool.
Let the toffee sit for an additional 15 - 20 minutes to completely cool. It should be easy at this point to break the scored candy pieces off. Dip each piece into the melted chocolate. Allow to set on a piece of parchment paper either on the kitchen counter top, or if you're impatient like me, place in freezer for several minutes while you make the rest of the recipe.
3) TO MAKE THE CUPCAKES: Combine a can of seltzer water with the box of Devil's Food cake mix. Pour even amounts of the cupcake batter into cupcake liners and bake for the recommended time. (Yes, it's going to come out just fine. Yes, it's that easy.)
4) TO MAKE CONDENSED MILK: While the cupcakes are baking, whisk together the coconut milk and brown sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring the combination to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes, uncovered, or until mixture has reduced by half. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in vanilla and salt.
When the cupcakes come out of the oven, poke holes in the tops of the cupcakes. I would use a wooden skewer or a wooden take-out chopstick (because you know you have some just sort of lying around, right?). Pour a tablespoon of the condensed milk on each cupcake. Then let the cupcakes cool completely.
5) TO MAKE CARAMEL DRIZZLE: In a saucepan, heat the corn syrup, brown sugar, and Earth Balance to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes and continue to stir. Combine in creamer, then remove from heat and let cool.
6) TO ASSEMBLE THE CUPCAKE: Get out your tub of Coco Whip (or TruWhip) and use a spatula to put it all into a Ziploc baggy. Cut a small hole on one bottom corner and frosted your cooled cupcakes. Then, using a spoon or a little squeeze bottle, drizzle your caramel sauce all over the whipped cream. Next, remove the parchment paper from your sheet of toffee, and use a utensil to break the toffee bar up into as little pieces as possible. Top the cupcakes with a generous amount of toffee pieces.
7) Keep the cupcakes refrigerated. With all of that condensed milk soaking into the middle, they only get better with time! Enjoy!