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Happy Valentine’s Day! What’s that, you say? I should have posted this before the actual day, so you could make them today? Yeah, that would have been better, but that’s just not where my life is at right now. Anyway, I’ve really been in the mood for red velvet flavored things lately, and these vegan keto red velvet cupcakes just so happen to fit the bill.
For those of you who don’t know, red velvet cake is a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting that dates back to the Victorian Era. The term “velvet” referred to the crumb of the cake, which was tender and velvety, and the “red” part was due to a chemical reaction between the non-dutch processed cocoa powder and vinegar. Later, beets were added for both moisture and additional color (sometimes just beet juice, sometimes whole beets). Today, most commercially produced red velvet cakes use food dye to achieve their crimson hue, but we’re going to defer to beets.
Since this is a Valentine’s Day treat, and this day is associate with love, romance and hearts, beets make a natural addition to this cake. Beets are one of those foods that has demonstrated heart-protective abilities in lab studies. For instance, one study showed that participants could significantly lower blood pressure just 24 hours after drinking beet juice (source). Another study showed beet juice lowering LDL (the super-dense, “bad” cholesterol) levels in participants (source). Additionally, beets contain loads of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals as well as naturally-occurring dietary nitrates, which are vasodilators (source). I’ve got Raynaud’s and generally poor circulation, and often add some beet root powder to my smoothies for these reasons.
So, for their nutritional benefits, I’ve decided to use beet root powder to color these cupcakes. I plan on adjusting the recipe to use real beets at some point in time (to add as an alternative method), but they didn’t have any at the grocery store and I just plain didn’t think to grab canned. So, here we are.
Notes & Substitutions for Vegan Keto Red Velvet Cupcakes (gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free)
- If you don’t have beet root powder on hand, you could just use red food dye and add in a scant tbsp of cocoa powder. You also don’t actually need to dye these.
- If you don’t really like tahini, or can’t do sesame seeds, almond butter works just as well. I found that peanut butter just tasted a little too peanutty.
- There are loads of good vegan cream cheeses out there – Kite Hill, Miyoko’s Kitchen and Culcherd all offer delicious, whole foods based cream cheese-style spreads that work wonderfully in recipes like this!
- You can either buy coconut cream in cans, or make it by chilling a can of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge for at least a few hours. Or, if your house is cold like mine, it’s already chilled in the pantry…
- Yes, you are reading this right – there is both baking soda and powder in this recipe. The soda reacts with the vinegar for some extra lift and the two combined add a little tang and tenderness to the cupcakes.
- Chia seeds can be used in place of flax, but I’d cut the amount in half if you plan on grinding them, as they thicken much more.
- The nutrition information is calculated based on the data available in the USDA nutrient content database. Keep in mind that some brands will have different numbers, so your info may vary! Also keep in mind that erythritol does not count towards grams of net carbs. 🙂
Vegan Keto Red Velvet Cupcakes (gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free)
For the Cupcakes
For the Frosting
- 1/4 cup coconut cream (see note above) (60ml)
- 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese] (60g)
- liquid stevia to taste (I used about 5 drops)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 4 wells of a standard-size muffin pan with paper liners or have a standard-size silicone muffin pan or muffin liners ( are what I use, because they're pretty and easy to bake with) on hand.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the tahini, coconut milk and vinegar until well combined and smooth. Stir in the sweetener and flax seeds and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, use a fork to whisk together the cocoa powder, beet root powder, baking powder and baking soda until thoroughly combined. Smush any clumps with the fork (you could also sift everything before hand...but who has time for that?).
- Fold the dry ingredient into the wet and stir until no clumps remain. Be sure not to stir too roughly, as you want to preserve some of the volume created by the vinegar and baking soda reaction.
- Divide the batter evenly among the 4 lined muffin wells, filling each about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, to allow the cupcakes to set up. Once set, remove from the pan and let cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, stir together the cream cheese and coconut cream (and optional stevia) until smooth, then divide evenly among the cupcakes.