Vegan Cheesecake-Stuffed Red Velvet CupcakesMegan Seling

I bake things into other things. Candy bars into brownies, brownies into cupcakes, cupcakes into cheesecakes—I’ve done it all. It started as a hobby, it turned into a website, and, most recently, it became a cookbook. I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s also delicious and a lot of fun (and it’s nearly tripled my party invites—so long as I promise to bring cupcakes).

As a HelloGiggles fan (this site is responsible for my current nail polish addiction—currently wearing Serenity by Illamasqua) I just had to make a HelloGiggles cupcake. Duh, it had to be cute. But what would a HelloGiggles cupcake taste like? I could incorporate Speculoos Cookie Butter, peaches and figs, Conan O’Brien… okay, no, not Conan O’ Brien.

I decided the treat needed to feature the website’s gorgeous colors—specifically, the red in the logo, which has always reminded me of red velvet cake. I filled it with a creamy piece of cheesecake and topped it with smooth, chocolatey frosting, and, of course, I made some adorable cupcake toppers. Delicious and cute! Just as a HelloGiggle cupcake should be.

For the cupcake recipe, I trusted Southern Queen Paula Deen’s Red Velvet recipe, but I veganized it with soymilk, vinegar, and applesauce to replace the buttermilk and eggs. As for the cheesecake, if you have your own favorite vegan cheesecake recipe, feel free to use that! But I recommend not using a no-bake recipe, as it might end up making a mess in the oven.

Happy baking! And I hope you don’t get powdered sugar up your nose like I did.

HelloGiggles’ Cheesecake-Stuffed Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes about 24 cupcakes

For the cheesecake you’ll need:

  • 16 ounces Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 8-inch vegan graham cracker pie crust

For the cupcakes you’ll need:

  • 1 cup plain soymilk
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider or white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting you’ll need:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) Earth Balance (or your favorite vegan margarine), room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup plain soymilk
  • 4 tablespoons (or two quick squirts) of vegan chocolate syrup (I prefer one with no high-fructose corn syrup)

Directions: 

1. First, make the cheesecake. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Using a stand or hand mixer, combine the vegan cream cheese, sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt together at medium high speed until smooth. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to make sure everything is getting incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared graham cracker crust and place it on a cookie sheet (just in case there’s spillage), and place it in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes until the cheesecake has puffed up and just started to turn brown on the edges. It will still be jiggly, but continue to set as it cools. Allow it to cool for at least 30 minutes, then place it in the refrigerator or freezer to speed the cooling process, because you wanna put that thing into a cake!

2. While the cheesecake continues to cool, prepare the cupcakes. Line 24 cupcake tins with cupcake wrappers. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Combine the soy milk and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk it for about 30 seconds, until creamy. Set aside. Combine all the dry ingredients—flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder—in a large mixing bowl and mix with a whisk until everything is incorporated. Set aside. In another large mixing bowl, stir together the wet ingredients—soymilk and vinegar mixture, vegetable oil, applesauce, red food coloring, and vanilla extract. Make a well or nest in the bowl of dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredient mixture. Whisk together until smooth, about a minute.

3. Scoop two heaping tablespoons of cupcake batter into each cupcake tin. Remove the cheesecake from the fridge or freezer and cut it into 24 even (or close to even) pieces. Place one piece in each cupcake tin and gently press it into the batter. Cover with another heaping tablespoon of batter so the tins are 3/4 of the way full and the piece of cheesecake isn’t showing. Bake for about 20-22 minutes, until the cake has set and the edges have started to brown. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the cupcake tins for at least 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack (they’re a little fragile when still warm). Wait until the cupcakes are completely cool before frosting, or you’ll end up with chocolate soup on your cupcakes.

4. To make the frosting, use a stand or hand mixer to whip the Earth Balance (or your favorite vegan butter replacement) for 30 seconds, until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, a 1/2 cup at a time, whipping until incorporated. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla and cocoa powder, then turn the mixer back up to medium high until the cocoa is evenly distributed. Turn the mixer back down to low again and slowly pour in the soy milk. Whip for another 15-20 seconds until fluffy (don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple times). Give the frosting a taste and, if you’d like, add more cocoa powder or vanilla. If the frosting is too soft or runny, add a bit more powdered sugar. For an extra blast of chocolate (and to loosen up a too-thick frosting), add a squirt or two of chocolate syrup. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and finish with some sprinkles, dark chocolate shavings, or cute cupcake toppers!

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  1. These look amazing!!!!!!!!

  2. Oh wow, those look amazing!

  3. I am so going to make these cupcakes they look so yummy :) very excited

  4. Do you think it would be OK to substitute a gluten-free flour? Everything else seems like it would work for me (other than the graham cracker crust!).

    • I’ll have to try it gluten-free as well!

    • You know, I don’t have much experience baking with gluten-free flour, but it might work well because of the applesauce. The applesauce made the cupcake extra soft and moist (instead of just oily), so it could help keep the texture light. Worth a shot! If you bake them, let me know how they work with gluten-free! (And maybe some other gluten-free bakers will have better advice.)

  5. Just a warning to people making these: Make sure you use a VEGAN food coloring, or either skip it entirely (which shouldn’t affect it except for cuteness, it is probably healthier, since other dyes are often pretty chemically). A lot of red food colorings have cochineal extract (a dye from crushed red beetles) for coloring.

    • Good call! Thanks for reminding people. I really like India Tree, a company from Seattle that sells in most grocery stores, I think. They have a selection of food coloring and sprinkles and sugars that use vegetable dyes (and they even have some sugar products aren’t processed with bone char).