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Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting »


Vegan Chocolate Frosting

gluten free vanilla cupcakes with vegan chocolate frosting

This is my all time favorite icing recipe. Lately, I’ve been using this vegan chocolate frosting for cakes, cupcakes, and also as a filling between chocolate wafers. My son loves this double chocolate treat –chocolate wafers with chocolate frosting– packed in his school lunch.

I promise, I’ll put chocolate wafers up here on the boards soon. That recipe just needs a few more rounds of testing until it is ready for public consumption!

Vegan Chocolate Frostingprint
1 cup chocolate chunks
½ cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch celtic sea salt

  1. In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate and grapeseed oil
  2. Stir in agave, vanilla and salt
  3. Place frosting in freezer for 15 minutes to chill and thicken
  4. Remove from freezer and whip frosting with a hand blender until it is thick and fluffy
  5. Frost over cake, chocolate or vanilla cupcakes or between cookies

This gluten-free, dairy-free, rich and creamy chocolate icing will fool all of the junk food junkies, dairy-lovers and gluten gluttons in your life –they won’t have a clue that they’re eating on your meal plan. Go ahead, see for yourself.


posted on April 22, 2008

  1. Kathleen in MT

    Can you recommend any alternative to the dagoba chocodrops? My daughter just can’t tolerate the cane sugar, even the unrefined organic stuff. It gives her heart palpitations. I do have some Girardelli(sp) unsweetened chocolate. I suppose I could try that and add additional agave? She can tolerate agave and honey…but not stevia either, isn’t that strange? I wonder how many ounces of chocolate would equal a cup of chocolate chips.

  2. Kathleen,

    I cannot recommend a substitute as I only use dagoba chocodrops in my recipes. I’m not sure what the results would yield if you used something else.

    If you decide to experiment, please let us know. You can share you experience by posting in the forums.

    Hopefully you can find an alternative that works for her.

    Thank you for stopping by!
    Elana

  3. I tried this with a cane sugar free chocolate (cant remember the name, threw away the wrapper) chopped to roughly the size of chocolate drops and used a cup of that, it turned out well. My friend tried this recipe with another type of chocolate (have not seen the dagoba brand here in Iceland) that contains cane sugar and that worked as well.

  4. Kitty,

    Thanks for stopping by with this great report!

    Elana

  5. Natalia

    I whipped this frosting up using ingredients I had on hand: a mixture Ghiradelli unsweetened baking chocolate, semi sweet chips, and the only oils I had were sesame and olive, so I used equal amounts of each. I was worried it would affect the flavor but the chocolate and vanilla really took center stage. It was a beautiful consistency just after I whipped it, but it got a little too hard afterward. Probably a result of my random substitutions…but still delicious! Thank you Elana!

  6. Natalia,

    I like the way you experimented with this recipe. Thanks for letting us know how it went!

    Elana

  7. Lisa

    I tried this recipe using coconut oil instead of grapeseed and it turned out lovely. I also used semi-sweet Ghiradeli chocolate chips, so didn’t need to use the agave. I had some trouble with getting the consistency right (too hot, then too cold, then heated it up to just right), but once it was right, it was perfect! Thanks so much, Lisa

  8. Lisa,

    Thanks for letting us know about your successful substitutions!

    Elana

  9. Meagan

    I just found your website and thankfully had most of the items and set of to make these cupcakes.

    My oldest daughter was diagnosed with diabetes two weeks ago and thankfully we are already very holistic…I would never allow artificial sugar.

    I am so in love with your site and just wanted to thank you so much from one Mom to another. All of your wonderful things…allow my daughter to be “normal” Bless You!!!!

    I did make a couple changes…just due to stock on hand. I didn’t have coconut flour, but had organic unsweetened shreaded coconut. I put it in my Vita-Mix and was able to powder it down…PERFECT! I also used coconut oil.

    I didn’t have anything but cocoa powder so I used that and just a touch more agave. Perfect as well! I have shared your site with many friends! I cannot thank you enough!!!!

  10. Meagan -So sorry to hear about your daughter; I know how tough it is dealing with a child’s serious health matters. I am glad that my site is a help to you and that the foods on it help your daughter to feel “normal.” That’s really how I got into all this –for my son with celiac, for the exact same reason. Love your creativity in making your own coconut flour! Thanks for stopping by :-)

  11. Jamie

    After months of drooling over your recipes I had a good excuse to try out the chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting for my husband’s birthday. Unbelievably scrumptious and so easy to make (the cupcakes and the frosting)! I never thought that a frosting could taste sooo good without powdered sugar or butter. My taste buds (and my family’s taste buds) thank you for your ingenuity and creativity! I look forward to trying many of your other recipes.

  12. Just have to say this is the best chocolate frosting I have ever tasted! Along with a few other commenters, it took about an hour in the freezer, and then I had to let it warm on the counter a for about 20 minutes before I have the perfect consistency for icing, but it was SO good!~ I actually preferred it on the 2nd day! It tasted more smooth and creamy than it had on day one!! I just used regular (dairy free) chocolate chips since it’s what I had on hand. This will be my GO TO icing recipe! Now to try your cream icing!! ;-)

  13. carrie, so glad you liked it. This is my favorite frosting too. I have been known to eat it late at night on crackers :-)

  14. Rachel @ bb4wa.com

    I need to know where I went wrong. I just made this frosting for my vanilla cupcakes and the frosting did not get thick at all. I used all the ingredients you recommend. I used my hand mixer. It’s still very thin and runny. Not sure what I can do with it.

    • Rachel @ bb4wa.com

      Okay, I figured it out! Apparently, my freezer takes a bit longer than yours. I put the thin, runny frosting back in for another 15 minutes and now it looks just like yours. Hubby just ate three of the cupcakes!!

  15. I have had some trouble in the past with the frosting. Dagoba Drops are out of my budget, and my previous attempts with 60% cacao chips rendered the frosting perfect to scoop for truffles, but too hard to spread. I finally gave up. Until today that is…

    I found a 74% Dagoba bar at my local green grocer. I bought it and compared the sugar/fat ratio with my 60% cacao chips. My boyfriend and I reminisced about High School chemistry, and all we should have learned, finally deciding on adding a touch more grapeseed oil at a time until the right consistency was found. One tablespoon turned out to be perfect. Other than this small addition, the recipe works perfectly if one is inclined to buy the 60% cacao chips at $3 per bag, in lieu of the Dagoba that is more than that for just 2 oz.

  16. Great recipe- although I do wonder if there are any other oils you may recommend, as I have made frosting with grapeseed oil once and the taste of the oil was very overpowering. Either that, or is there a particular brand that might be better? Thanks in advance! :)

    • Caitlin Smith

      Coconut oil is a GREAT substitute for the grapeseed oil– SO healthy and just perfect for baking. And I am substituting honey wherever Elana calls for agave “nectar”. Agave nectar is a modern, processed sweetener derived from a starch, and my family and I are sensitive to all starches, as are many people who are gluten-intolerant.

  17. Nicole

    I made this today (with the vanilla cupcakes), and while it was delicious I did have a problem with the frosting. I followed your directions exactly, but when I whipped the frosting after the freezer it got very hard. I was barely able to get it on the cupcakes, and needless to say it looks terrible! :) But they taste great and that’s what really counts! Do you have any suggestions for next time? I’m not sure why this happened…maybe I whipped too much?

    • Rachel B. @ bb4wa.com

      Nicole, this happens to me every time I make this frosting. If I leave it in the freezer a bit too long, it’s too hard to whip. If I take it out too soon, it’s too liquid. So I try to set the timer for 15 minutes, check it, then if it’s still too thin, I put it back in for a few minutes at a time. It’s time consuming because 15 minutes has never worked for me.

      • Nicole

        Thanks Rachel! I will actually try less time, I guess maybe my freezer freezes to quick! I set the timer for 15min exactly and that’s what happened. Maybe I’ll try 10 next time and see what happens. Thank you!

  18. Lara Shekhtman

    Elana,

    Thank you for all of your recipes! We tried the Vegan Chocolate Frosting and were amazed by the results (I also left out the agave since all I had were semi-sweet chocolate chips on hand and didn’t want the frosting to be too sweet). For several years we have been searching for good non-dairy, non-powdered sugar frosting/topping recipes for my daughter who is allergic to milk products and tree nuts. And we found one finally on your website! You don’t know how many cakes I botched, trying to find something that would work. So thank you for your ingenuity, resourcefulness and talent. You are a chemist in the kitchen, for sure!

  19. Christie

    Elana,
    Could you tell me if this would be enough frosting for your banana bread cake? I’m going to be making the cake for my son’s birthday and am trying to figure out how much frosting I need. I’ve never made cake before, lol! I’m doubling the cake recipe. By the way, I made the cake once to test it out, and it is YUM! My sugar-loving friends loved it too :).

  20. Gita

    This is the first thing that I have tried from your website and I must say that I am VERY impressed! Absolutely delicious, thanks very much!

    I substituted coconut oil for the grapeseed oil and it worked great, though it does get hard quickly. This didn’t bother me as it allowed me to use the frosting without the beating step.

    Am looking forward to trying more recipes.

  21. andrea

    I love this recipe….i did make a change the second time I made it and I loved it even more….I always use dairy free chocolate (dairy allergy at my house) the second time i made it i used coconut oil and loved the texture even more.

  22. Taryn

    My first attempt at your coconut frosting failed, I just couldn’t seem to temper the fat in the coconut oil and milk properly.

    Finally, vegan frosting success!
    Just in time for a dear vegan friend’s birthday.

    My copy of your cookbook is getting lots of love, it is adequately smeared with gorgeous organic, fair-trade vegan frosting.

    Thank you Elana for all that you do.

  23. Angie

    I used Whole Food’s vegan chocolate chips in this frosting recipe and it was delicious! This is the best frosting I have tasted since I had to go gluten and dairy free. Thank you, Elana!

  24. Batya L. Wittenberg @ batyatoon.livejournal.com

    I made a variant of this frosting today with a scant half-teaspoon of mint extract in addition to the vanilla extract, and it came out delicious.

    Also, since I’ve been reading this blog for a long time and never commented before: your site is absolutely amazing. I’ve tried a handful of recipes from it (mostly desserts and breads) since I started using almond flour, and I’ve loved everything so much that I purchased your cookbook last month.

    Lady, you do good work. Thanks for sharing so much of it with us.

  25. Jennifer McAllister

    Bless you for sharing a frosting recipe WITHOUT using icing sugar. I am so absolutely SICK of every gluten-free recipe I find having some product full of corn in it. I am making cupcakes this weekend and CANNOT WAIT to try out this recipe! I’ve kind of given it all up having four kids (one biological who is also very intolerant to everything). Very excited. VERY VERY excited.

  26. Thanks for posting this excellent frosting recipe! I’m making cupcakes for my baby’s 1st birthday and they need to be dairy-free. I found a great chocolate cupcake recipe, and used this frosting recipe, and it came out AMAZING.

    I used Scharffen Berger unsweetened chocolate, which I wouldn’t do again – I had to add a ton of extra agave to make the frosting sweet enough. Next time, I’d probably use the bittersweet. The frosting is VERY chocolaty, so beware :)

    Also, I needed to freeze the mixture for 30-45 min before it hardened. I tried to whip the frosting at 15 min and it was an oily mess. Good thing is that this recipe is very forgiving – I just put it back in the freezer for another 20 min or so and tried again and it came out perfectly.

    The recipe makes a LOT of frosting, so if you’re not a huge fan, you could probably make less and still be able to frost 12 cupcakes.

  27. Bob

    Does anyone know what happens after you let it sit? Would I have to keep the cake in the fridge to keep the frosting from becoming runny/oily/”liquidy”?

  28. Nicole

    I made this frosting today to put on a cake, it was delicious and a great consistency. I am a nanny to 3 kids who have a dairy, gluten and sugar free diet and this was great.

  29. Katie

    Ok, chocolate frosting is good. Even better–that ice cream topping that hardens as it freezes, the kind only grandma would let you eat… just drizzled some of this liquid frosting onto a scoop of vanilla ice cream and I think it may be one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.

  30. TheFoodPlacebo @ thefoodplacebo.blogspot.com

    Made these this weekend as a little birthday treat! First Gluten Free/Vegan baking experience! This icing was so much better than any full fat/butter icing I have ever made! I think the use of oil rather than butter really allows the chocolate to shine. What a great recipe. There is no need for all the extra sugar or saturated fat from the butter! And the icing really does whip up just like you would expect icing to! Thanks!

    http://thefoodplacebo.blogspot.com/

  31. Nathalie

    Good grief this frosting is amazing!! I just iced a vegan chocolate cupcake (a PPK recipe) with some and I’m pretty sure it’s the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I have a question though – is the frosting going to turn to liquid if kept at room temperature? Meaning, will I have to keep my frosted cupcakes in the fridge, lest they end up in a pool of chocolate?

  32. This is my second attempt at the choc icing. Last time, i used my vitamix and the icing was not fluffy. This time ill use that hand held mixer as intructed. Can i sub cocoa pwdr for this recipe?

  33. Elana, do you know how well this frosting takes to heat? I need a chocolate frosting for these cupcakes that I’m shipping to the soldiers overseas, and I’m worried that this recipe might melt or something. Will it?

  34. Jen Blackmon

    My frosting is not whipping up with the hand mixer. The only thing I did different was use 70% cocoa (I chopped up an organic Newman’s Own bar) instead of 73%. Does that small percentage make a difference?

  35. Oh my, was this delicious! I used it to top the chocolate coconut flour cupcakes from this site. I made a few substitutions and it still came out unbelievably rich and fluffy.

    I used 70% bittersweet vegan chocolate chips, and replaced half the grapeseed oil with coconut oil. I also left out the agave nectar. I mixed the frosting and put it in the fridge the day before I needed it to ease party-day preparations. I pulled it out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for about an hour to soften up, then whipped it with a hand blender. It fluffed up into a nice creamy frosting in a few seconds!

    I was hoping that the coconut oil, being solid at room temperature, would help the frosting to hold a little better until party time, and I had no problem with it at all! I frosted the cupcakes in the morning and they sat at room temperature for six or seven hours, and the frosting still had the same great texture when we were ready to eat them.

    I made these specifically for a few people at the party who have wheat allergies or are on a paleo diet, but many kids and adults with no diet restrictions enjoyed them as well. There are a couple pictures here if you want to see how they turned out: http://leavehappier.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/healthy-party-food/

    Thank you, Elana!

  36. Magdalena

    Hi Elana! Thank you for all the wonderful recipes! I made this frosting and put it in the freezer but it never got thick. I followed the recipe and used the same ingredients. What do you think I did wrong?

  37. Debra

    I had a hard time at first with the frosting. Too hot, too cold. I used dairy free “Chocolate Dream Semi Sweet” baking chips. After leaving in freezer for about 30 minutes and then letting sit on the counter for about 30 minutes the texture was just right to spread. Delicious. Now to try and not eat all 12 in the next 24 hours will be the challenge. Thanks for a great recipe.

  38. Leslie

    The sugar can be left entirely out of the icing, it’s not necessary. I substituted coconut oil. I used Whole Foods 70% dark chocolate mini-chunks. I didn’t do any whipping, just got it to be what I thought was a good consistency & spread it over the top. Tastes great!

  39. Tracy

    I just finished making this frosting to top the vanilla cupcakes from the site.

    I did sub some things because my dark chocolate chips have not arrived in the mail and I needed to make these today for my son’s birthday.

    I used semi sweet chips and reduced the added sweetener to 1 TBSP. I used organic maple syrup instead of agave. I also used coconut oil instead of grapeseed oil, but only in the frosting, not in the cake.

    I left mine in the freezer for 14 minutes. Used my hand held electric mixer with the WHISK attachment and whipped it for a good long while. This really takes a few minutes, so be patient. It won’t look like it is doing anything at all for a few minutes. But slowly it starts to lighten in color as air whips into the chocolate. I do not know if you could achieve the whipped result using regular blending attachments, you should really use the whisk attachment.

    It tastes amazing. I cannot wait for my son to get home, he is going to love them!

  40. Brigitte

    This looks great! Do you have a recipe for vanilla frosting that is vegan?

  41. christy

    I use cacao powder, raw…with coconut palm sugar and don’t react to it…I also react to cane sugar and agave is worse than corn syrup as far as glycemic value

  42. Geraldine @ None

    Hi Elana,

    Thank you for all your wonderful recipes. I’ve been using them regularly and following every new one you post. Both my sons are gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast and soya allergy sufferers. You are making use of chocolate chips in your cookies – are they dairy free?

    Many thanks
    Geraldine

  43. Jenny Epstein Kessem @ greatblueheron.org

    The cupcakes that go with this are great, but a little sweet for me, so I didn’t add any agave to the frosting, and it become more of a dark chocolate ganache. Delish. Also, the way I frost, these proportions gave double the frosting I needed. Don’t know if that will be true for others. Now I’m high on the frosting I licked while cleaning up. And have a lot more left. uh oh.

  44. Jean

    I found this looking for recipes for my daughter’s third bday in October. She is so reactive to sugar, and agave, anyone try it with Maple Syrup? if so, do you need to substitute anything in it – like increase anything or decrease anything? Thank you in advance!

  45. trisha samseli

    Whoa! Best frosting ever.

  46. mm

    Your recipes sound great and I look forward to trying them. But I am concerned about using agave nectar, Dr. Mercola and many others say that it is toxic to the body and should never be used. What is your opinion on this. Thank you.

  47. Victoria

    We substituted with semi sweet chips, my kiddos devoured it! My daughter who is in 3rd grade choose this frosting for her , “healthy style “‘ cupcake which she is bringing to the county fair for judging!! We loved it!

  48. April

    I’ve tried this frosting with both grape seed oil and coconut oil and it is gross all around.. It’s probably just me because it’s mostly a mental thing but I just can’t get over eating so much oil in one bite.. Yuck.. I prefer just melting some chocolate and drizzling over cake rather than chomping into a glob of oil… Idk just my opinion a lot of people seem to like it. I guess I just don’t care for frosting, how the times change, used to devour the stuff as a kid. ;)

    Thanks for all the inspiration

  49. Julie

    Has anyone tried honey or another sweetener instead of agave in the cupcake recipe as well as icing recipe? Could you use cocoa powder instead of chocolate chips for the icing?

  50. lily prichard @ oldwivestail.com

    Omg this is my favorite vegan dessert of alllllllll time! Thank you so much Its just amazing – please can you put the wafers up here on the boards plz

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