Walking my dog Opie is like an adventure. You never know where it's going to take you, and you're lucky if you get back home on time and in one piece.
Okay, I exaggerated just a little about coming home in one piece because so far I have, but the rest of it is absolutely true.
When Opie was younger, we tried all we could to train him to walk like a "good dog." But for some reason- likely the fact that he is the most stubborn creature I've ever known - he refused to fall in line.
Although he walks at least twice a day, rain, shine, snow or ice, Opie treats every walk like it's his first one. He goes raring out the door, eager to chase down every squirrel, stare at every person he sees, and sniff hard at every calling card left in the grass by every dog in the neighborhood.
Sometimes, he decides he wants to go a certain route. And arguing with Opie is not easy. If I walk in another direction than the one he's set his mind to, he will first bury his front feet in the ground, put his head down, and refuse to budge. His big, brown eyes meanwhile will make a frantic appeal, asking me to reconsider.
If I insist, he'll just sit down.
As you might have guessed, I usually give in.
But although he might sound like a bit of a pain in the rear- and he certainly is a lot of the time- it is indeed hard to fight that kind of curiosity and vibrance. I am always awe-struck by how his enthusiasm never seems to wane.
In freezing weather, as I plod with him through knee-deep snow, begging him to walk fast, he will plonk down on a smooth patch in a neighbor's lawn, turn on his side, and move vigorously back and forth to make a snow angel. Then he'll put down his ear to the ground, push up his playful butt, and go sliding through the snow, enjoying himself completely. Even though my fingers and toes are screaming for life by this time, I can't help but laugh.
Some of you might wonder - as I am sure most of my neighbors do- why I don't work harder to make Opie behave as I want him to. Well, Opie's not a badly behaved dog. As a stranger delighted by his antics once remarked, very astutely, he just has a mind of his own.
And I'm certainly not going to fight that.
So why the prologue about Opie in a post titled Chocolate Cupcake? After all, dogs and chocolate are not compatible. But Opie is my chocolate cupcake, or at least that's one of my names for him, and I wanted to share with you this little tale of a very special dog.
As for the cupcake, this one, which I adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, is so delicious, so fluffy and moist, that no one would ever guess it was vegan. In fact, it's one of the best cupcakes I've ever tasted and made.
This cupcake would be even more wonderful, if that's possible, with some chocolate icing, but this time I didn't have the time to make any, so I just went with a simple topping of powdered sugar. Bliss.
Vegan Chocolate Cupcake
1 cup almond milk (can use soy)
1 tsp vinegar
3/4 cup turbinado sugar (can use regular sugar)
1/3 cup canola or other flavorless vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
In a bowl, mix the almond milk and vinegar and set aside for a few minutes until it curdles.
Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract and beat togeter until it turns frothy.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt.
Add the cocoa-flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two batches, mixing well until the mixture is fairly smooth. Don't overbeat.
Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Pour the batter into each liner, about 3/4 full. Although the original recipe said it made 12 cupcakes, this one made just nine. Hmmm.
Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes. Then unmold the muffins and place them on the rack until thoroughly cooled.
If desired, take some powdered sugar in a sieve, and sprinkle over the top of the cupcakes.
For another great vegan cupcake recipe, try my Lemony Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.