In a mediumMixing Bowl, add the soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Combine and let it sit for 10 minutes to create a vegan buttermilk. It will thicken and curdle slightly. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl with a Mesh Strainer on top (or use a Flour Sifter), sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Now whisk to combine well. Set aside.
In the medium bowl with the buttermilk, add the oil, applesauce, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk to combine well.
Now slowly pour the wet ingredients into the larger bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk together until just combined. Small lumps are fine. (*Don't over mix or it can create a dense and chewy cupcake)
Divide batter evenly into each slot about ⅔ full (an ice cream scoop works great for this). Bake them in the oven for 20-24 minutes. To check for doneness, lightly press the surface - It should spring back (You can also use a toothpick and push it through the center - it should come out clean).
Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. Then let them cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before frosting.
Add the softened vegan butter to the bowl of a Stand Mixer(or use a Medium/Large Stainless Steel Bowl with a Hand Mixer). Beat until fluffy for 30-60 seconds.
Add the peppermint and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated (about 30-60 seconds)
Now add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time over low speed until it's fully incorporated. Scrape down sides as needed. Now turn up to medium-high speed and mix until smooth and fluffy. Taste and add more sugar if needed. (*if the buttercream is too thick or dry, add a few teaspoons of non-dairy milk and mix until fully incorporated). Fill a piping bag and decorate cooled cupcakes and top with crushed candy canes (*detailed piping instructions in the post above).
If you won't be serving the cupcakes right away. Decorate the cupcakes and place them in the fridge for a few hours. Take them out an hour before serving. This will prevent the buttercream from melting.
If you want to save time, you can use store-bought Vegan Frosting. I don't know how it will react with peppermint extract, so I would just add the crushed candy cane to the top.
If you use regular cocoa powder and want to boost the chocolate flavor, you can add 1 teaspoon of Espresso Powder to the dry ingredients. I wouldn't add it with the Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder.
For accurate results, don't scoop the flour with a measuring cup directly from the flour container. Instead, scoop the flour out of your container with a spoon and then into a measuring cup. Don't pack or tap the cup. After filling, lightly sweep a butter knife across the top to remove the excess flour. * Example photo below recipe card.
Make sure your baking soda is not expired. Fresh baking agents are important for a successful baking experience.