This was one grand experiment. I love red velvet. When I developed a dairy allergy, I couldn't eat or make it anymore. For years, I longed for them, until I worked in the Chelsea section on Manhattan. There is a wonderful vegan restaurant and bakery called Blossom. They make a fantastic vegan red velvet cupcake. On nice days, I would walk over on my lunch break and buy one (or a few...).
Well, when I stopped working in Chelsea, red velvet eluded me again. You see, I can replicate buttermilk by adding vinegar and/or lemon juice to coconut milk, but for red velvet, lemon juice alters the flavor and there is already vinegar in the recipe, so adding more throws off the balance.
Until... I began making coconut milk Kefir at home. The kefir acts almost the same way as buttermilk does in recipes, so it gave me the freedom to make a red velvet confection at home.
Some friends invited me to a Pot Luck, so I had the means and the opportunity to make it.
The next step was to locate a recipe to conform. I chose one from Sally's Baking Addiction. It was a nice base that was relatively easy to convert by replacing the buttermilk with kefir at a 1:1 ratio. I made a double batch - thinking that it would only produce 12 cupcakes. Well, I got 24 cupcakes and two 8" rounds from doubling that recipe.
Now, how do I frost them? One option would be to make the cream cheese frosting with soy-based cream cheese, but I wanted something more interesting than that.
For the cupcakes, I wanted something light and airy - so I made a seven-minute swiss meringue frosting by Gale Gand.
For the cake, I decided to attempt an Italian Meringue buttercream, replacing the butter with Earth Balance Buttery Baking Sticks.