Last Christmas I made adorable Vegan Penguin Cupcakes. They quickly become one of my most popular festive bakes.
When I created those cupcakes, I used dairy-free white chocolate on an Oreo cookie for the head. It’s such a simple yet effective idea which really helps bring the character to life.
Since making the Penguin cupcakes this year over on my Instagram, they have exploded to almost half a million views in just a few days. Many people have been making them as holiday treats, so it gave me the idea to create another.
My character bakes are definitely some of my most popular and are such fun to make. I personally LOVE making animals and character designed bakes.
The idea popped into my head to make a new design. What other character shouts out Christmas, snow and festive fun? You guessed it… POLAR BEARS!
My polar bear cupcake was born. They are incredibly fun to make, you’ll just have to give them a go.
Firstly, you’ll need a batch of delicious cupcakes.
I use my popular, and most favourite vegan vanilla cupcakes recipe, with the addition of some coconut flavouring.
Secondly, you will want a batch of delicious buttercream. I love making Swiss meringue buttercream. It’s easy to make, is extremely creamy and a joy to pipe with.
Thirdly, COCONUT! It’s not essential and can be left out if you wanted a plain vanilla cupcake, but rolling the buttercream in coconut doesn’t only taste scrumptious and gives the cupcakes a ‘snowy’ look.
Lastly, the white chocolate Oreo head. It’s super easy to make. You’ll only need some Oreo cookies, white chocolate and black food gel (for the eyes and nose).
If you’re after a fun recipe, which is great for all to make at Christmas, this is the one. They would make amazing gifts and holiday favours. Enjoy!
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c fan and line a cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
In a small bowl, combine the dairy-free milk with the apple cider vinegar and whisk until fully combined.
In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Mix well to combine.
Add the flavouring and oil to the ‘buttermilk’ and whisk to combine.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until a smooth batter.
Fill the cases 3/4 full with the batter. Make sure to tap the tins on the worktop to remove any air bubbles.
Pop the cakes into the preheated oven and bake for 18-20 minutes. You will know they are done when you put a knife or skewer in and it comes out clean and they are springy to the touch.
Place the cupcakes on a cooling rack and allow to cool fully before frosting.
Method (chocolate coated Oreos)
Twist open the Oreos so that the filling remains on one side and the other side is just a cookie.
Add the dairy-free white chocolate into a heat proof bowl. Fill a medium sized saucepan 1/4 full with water. Place the saucepan on the hob over low / medium heat, and add the bowl on top. This creates a bain-marie. Allow the white chocolate to melt and cool very slightly.
Add a few tablespoons of white chocolate into a heat proof piping bag, and snip off the tip. Pipe small ‘chocolate buttons’ onto some grease proof paper then place into the freezer to set. These will be for the polar bear nose and ears.
Press 2 of the white chocolate buttons very gently on to one of the Oreos (the one with the filling on it) so that the buttons can stick to it. These are for the polar bear ears.
Add some of the melted white chocolate into the middle of the Oreo and gently press the second Oreo on top creating a sandwich. The ganache will act as glue to hold the Oreo and ears in place.
Add a dot of white chocolate to the middle of the Oreo and stick on another button. This will be for the nose. Repeat for all the Oreos and white chocolate (as many as you require).
Balance the cookie on a fork or spatula. Spoon the white chocolate all over the Oreo and ears. Allow excess chocolate to drip off back into the bowl. Place the polar bear heads on a tray / board covered with some grease proof paper. Place into the freezer for 10 minutes to set. Repeat for all the ‘heads’.
Dye some of the white chocolate with a drop of black food gel. When you add any sort of food gel or colouring to vegan white chocolate, it might go hard. If this happens, add in a small amount of coconut oil and stir over heat. This will help it get back to a smooth texture.
Transfer into a piping bag and snip off the tip.
Remove the polar bear heads from the freezer and pipe 2 dots for the eyes and a larger dot for the nose. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add in the dairy-free butter and whip until creamy. I use a stand mixer with a balloon whisk attachment, a hand mixer will work great too.
Sift in the icing sugar and whip. The buttercream will be very thick.
Pour in the aquafaba and whip for 5 minutes until it turns light and creamy. Don’t over whip it or it can become too soft. If it does, just add in more icing sugar until it’s thick and creamy.
Your Swiss meringue buttercream should be thick, very creamy and silky smooth. If it feels too heavy, add chunks more butter / splashes of aquafaba until its very light.
Transfer the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip nozzle.
Pipe a swirl of buttercream on top of each cupcake.
Fill a bowl with desiccated coconut. Roll the buttercream into the coconut.
Assemble the cupcakes
Place one of the polar bear heads into the top of the buttercream. Make sure to press it down a little so that it sticks.
Press some marshmallows to the sides and front of the cupcake (watch the tutorial here), this creates the bears paws.
Optional- Use some of the black chocolate to pipe on paw details.
I used Sainsbury’s own Deliciously Free From White Chocolate. Vegan / dairy-free white chocolate can sometimes be oily / grainy, its best to search for your best local dairy-free white chocolate. Another i highly recommended is iChoc Vegan White Chocolate.
What is Aquafaba:
Aquafaba is the water from a can/tin of chickpeas. The chickpea water or brine as it’s called, acts as an amazing egg substitute for cakes, cupcakes and delicious meringue buttercream. You can also get aquafaba in a carton for easy use. Check it out here.
What vegan block butter to use?
My favourite vegan / dairy-free block butters are ‘Naturli Vegan Block’ or Flora Plant Based Block Butter Alternative (salted or unsalted).