These meringue succulent cupcakes are made with chocolate cupcake “dirt”, topped with vegan aquafaba meringue succulents, and served in little terracotta pots. They make a great dessert for spring or summer parties, and your guests can take home the pots to reuse for real plants.
Here’s a new aquafaba meringue project to try out just in time for spring: Succulent Cupcakes (and cactus cupcakes!). The “succulents” are made with whipped aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) dyed green and baked into meringue cookies. The cookies are then dipped and chocolate and stuck on top of vegan chocolate cupcakes in mini terracotta pots. It’s so Pinteresting.
Bring them to a party, eat them all yourself, or put them on your windowsill with your real plants and admire them for the day. Then reuse the pots for real plants! It’s a craft project, a dessert, and a party favor all in one. Making this multifunctional cupcake does require a bit of finesse, so let’s go over a few tips…
Tips for making the succulent cupcakes
This recipe is for intermediate bakers, but anyone can make it with some practice! Here are a few tips to get you started…
Use short and sturdy cupcake liners
Depending on the size of your pots, the cupcake liners might be too tall. I cut 1/4-1/2 inch off the top of my liners so they didn’t stick out the top of the pot. Try different liner/terra cotta pot combinations to see what works, keeping in mind that the cupcakes will expand once they are baked.
Practice your aquafaba meringue making skills
But what’s aquafaba? If you have a can of beans in your kitchen, you already have this ingredient at home. Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of chickpeas, or other bean/legume. It has similar properties to egg whites, so it can be used as an egg white substitute in vegan and egg-free recipes.
One of its most impressive qualities is its ability to make meringue and meringue-based desserts. It can be use to make lemon meringue pie, meringue cookies, macarons, and so much more! I’ve used it in several other recipes on the blog, including my crepes, royal icing, Hawaiian bread, in a whiskey sour, and most notably in my homemade vegan Lucky Charms! It’s a truly versatile ingredient that costs pennies, and would normally be poured down the drain.
If you’re new to making meringue, check out my video below, which I made for my Lemon Meringue Pie recipe.
Practice your piping skills
Making succulents requires some pastry bag piping skills, so get acquainted with some piping techniques. The video below will show you how to pipe different kinds of succulents and cacti out of meringue, and the same techniques work for vegan meringue.
Don’t skip the chocolate step
Dipping the meringues in chocolate is not optional because it creates a barrier between the meringues and the cupcakes. The moisture of the cake will melt the meringues on contact.
Food coloring for the meringues
You color the succulents green when whipping up the meringue. I used Wilton gel food coloring. If you’d like to decorate the succulents after they’ve been baked, avoid food coloring or other liquids. I used a little bit of luster dust and a dry paintbrush on some of the meringues.
Store the meringues and cupcakes separately
If you are making these cupcakes ahead of time, store the cupcakes and meringues in two separate airtight containers. If you store the prepared succulent cupcakes in an airtight container overnight, they will MELT. The moisture from the cupcakes will create a humid environment and destroy the meringues you worked so hard to make.
Decorating the plant pots
These succulent cupcakes would be amazing for a spring or summer birthday party. You could even include your guests in the process, especially if it’s a kid’s party or you just really like crafts. Decorate the pots at the beginning of the party, serve the cupcakes in the personalized terra cotta pots, and then pot real succulents as a small gift to take home!
Where to find mini terra-cotta pots
I actually found mine at the dollar store, but you can get them at any home and garden store, or online. You can find a bunch of them on Amazon for pretty cheap.
Food-safe plant pot decorations
The cupcakes will only be touching the inside of the terra-cotta pots, and there will be a cupcake liner there as a barrier, so go nuts with decorations on the outside. You could use acrylic paint or spray paint, ribbons, sequins, or anything you like! I did white acrylic paint and gold leaf, which I found at a craft store.
Get some real succulents as party favors
After everyone eats the cupcakes, the pots can be reused for real succulents, and your guests can take home the plants as a party favor.
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons agave nectar
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup aquafaba (liquid from can of chickpeas)
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon green gel food coloring or as needed
- 1 cup superfine granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vegetable shortening or canola oil
- 2-3 terra cotta pots or your own containers
- Chocolate cookie crumbs candy, or fondant river rocks, edible flowers, (optional, for decorating)
For the cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cupcake liners in a muffin tray, then set aside.
- Sift together the flour and cocoa powder in a large bowl, then stir in the sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt.
- Mix together the milk and apple cider vinegar and let sit for 3-4 minutes.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk and vinegar mixture, agave nectar, canola oil, and vanilla. Whisk together all the ingredients until combined. The batter should be thick, much like muffin batter.
- Pour into each cupcake liner, filling 1/3 of the cup. Bake for 12-15 minutes until firm. Remove and let cool.
For the meringue succulents:
- Preheat oven to 220°F.
- To make the aquafaba meringue, combine the aquafaba, cream of tartar, and food coloring in a stand mixer equipped with a balloon whisk or a large bowl (if you have a hand mixer).
- Turn the stand mixer on medium-high and whip until peaks form.
- Continue whipping on high, gradually adding the sugar.
- Add the vanilla extract and whip until the mixture is very thick.
- Add more food coloring if desired. I had trouble with the meringue deflating if I added it at the very end in large amounts (hence why it’s added before whipping).
- Remove your bowl from the stand mixer and pipe as many succulents as you desire! Set each parchment square on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 2 hours or until the meringues are dehydrated.
- Melt the chocolate chips with the shortening or oil.
- Dip the bottoms of each meringue succulent in chocolate. Set aside until the chocolate hardens. Reserve the leftover chocolate or melt 1/4 cup more chocolate chips if necessary.
To assemble the succulent cupcakes:
- Place the cupcakes in each terra cotta pot. Dab a small amount of chocolate on top of each cupcake, then stick a succulent meringue (or 2 or 3, depending on what you made!) on top.
- Decorate with cookie crumbs, candy or fondant rocks, or edible flowers, if desired.
- For piping the succulents, I used leaf tip techniques in the video (in the blog post). I used tape to stick the parchment square to the flower nail so it comes off cleanly for baking.
- You can make superfine sugar by pulsing regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender until sandy, but not powdered and dusty.
- Do not store succulent cupcakes in an airtight container. A cardboard cake box will be fine short term, but meringues and cupcakes should be stored separately and assembled at the last minute, if possible. I know, so many rules!
Pin it for later:
This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for formatting. The recipe has not changed.