When it comes to serving vegan cupcakes to non-vegans, you have to capitalize on the opportunity–make a point about the delicious potential and non-weirdness of the v-word. To increase the appeal, go with well loved flavors–or even better, nostalgic flavors. And you may need to embrace both ends of the food quality spectrum. And use a no-fail cake recipe, like Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, which was published 10 years ago. (Crazy.)
Now to both sides of the food spectrum: the cupcakes are banana, but banana smoothed with an immersion blender. These need to be decadent and not like banana bread. The batter is swirled with pineapple preserves before baking, because a true banana split (i.e. the one from my youth from Friendly’s) has pineapple topping along with hot fudge and marshmallow sauce. The preserves I used, Sarabeth’s, are super high-end at $11 a jar. I used the pineapple-mango preserves and, again, processed them in the immersion blender to breakdown the big chunks of pineapple and mango. I also put chocolate chips in the batter, the same chocolate chips I used to make the ganache drizzle: Baker’s chocolate chunks–familiar, big food, not intimidatingly bitter or rich. Organic confectionary sugar and real vanilla from a dark brown glass jar (non-negotiable) for the vanilla buttercream. Cheap rainbow jimmies free of confectionary glaze. Not too many walnuts. and a maraschino cherry (sans the Carmine coloring). I did not go for making marshmallow drizzle in the interest of time. And done.
Then they’re ready for their close-up.
And this makes it all worth it.