- Pre-heat the oven to 350F and line 2 x muffin trays with 14 paper cases.
- In a small bowl mix together the flax meal and warm water, set aside.
- In a small jug or bowl mix together the coconut milk and vinegar, set aside for 10 minutes. Then add the vanilla extract and other extracts if using.
- In a medium sized bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, beat the non-dairy butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy. Add the flax eggs and mix again.
- With the mixer on a slow speed, add ¼ cup of the flour mixture, stop to scrape down the sides if required. Next add a ¼ cup of the milk mixture, mix and stop to scrape down the sides if need be. Continue to alternate adding the flour mixture and milk mixture until everything is just combined. Do not over mix.
- Scoop the batter evenly into the paper cases and bake on the centre shelf for 18 to 22 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the centre of the cupcakes to check they are done. A few crumbs sticking to the toothpick is fine but if there is still wet batter return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Do not over bake.
- Allow cupcakes to cool in the trays for about 15 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool fully. While the cupcakes are cooling make the frosting.
- Add the milk to a small heavy based pan and warm over a medium to low heat. Add the chocolate chips and stir the mixture until the chocolate chips have all melted and the ganache is silky smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool at room temperature before using. The ganache can be used to fill the cupcakes or drizzle over the top, whichever you prefer.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the balloon whisk attachment, beat the non-dairy butter (and shortening if using) together until soft and fluffy.
- Reduce the speed and add the sifted icing sugar a little at a time (about ½ cup), stop the mixer and scrape down the sides when necessary. Once you have added about ½ of the icing sugar add the seeds from the vanilla bean or the vanilla extract.
- Continue adding the icing sugar and if the mixture is getting too dry add a little of the non-dairy milk. Be careful not to add too much milk as it’s hard to rescue frosting that is too wet.
- Once all the icing sugar has been added beat for 3 to 5 minutes until light and fluffy (7 minutes if you have a butter & shortening mix). **All ‘butter’ frosting tends to be a little softer and more delicate than a ‘butter & shortening’ mix so do not over whisk and go easy with milk.**
To Assemble the Cupcakes:
- Once the cupcakes are cool, carefully with a small sharp knife, cut out a small amount of cake from the centre of each cupcake – about the size of a nickel and approx ¼ inch deep. Fill the hole with ganache. It is ok if some of the ganache leaks out, but not too much.
- Pipe frosting over the top of the cupcake however you desire. Decorate as simply or elaborately as you choose with whole or chopped hazelnuts. Drizzle with any leftover ganache.
*You can skip this first step if you would rather drizzle the ganache over the top of the frosting.