Into a large bowl mix well:
3 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Into another bowl add:
2 cups cold water
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and blend well with a big whisk. Beat out all of the lumps. Using a ladle, spoon the batter into cupcake trays, filling them about 3/4 full (just about to the top). If you don't use cupcake papers, make sure to oil the tray really well and dust with cocoa powder so the cupcakes don't stick. This makes 24 cupcakes (I use two trays that hold 12) and I usually have enough batter left over to make another tiny cake or to let folks lick it up.
Bake at 350°F. After about 30 minutes (mine take 45 so be watchful!) test the centers with a toothpick or cake tester. If the tester comes out clean they are done. Cool for ten minutes, then turn out cupcakes to cool fully.
Use a double boiler or make your own by putting a couple of inches of water in a small saucepan and placing an enameled or stainless steel bowl over the pot of water. Place the chocolate in the top bowl and place the entire thing over medium heat to get the water to steam. Keep stirring the chocolate until it melts smooth. Pour a very small amount of milk into the chocolate and keep stirring vigorously. At first the chocolate will sort of curd up, but if you keep stirring it quickly emulsifies with the milk and a smooth consistency develops.
Immediately turn off the heat and move the chocolate sauce to a hotpad on the counter. Let the sauce sit for a few minutes. Spoon the chocolate over cooled muffins and allow the chocolate to set about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the tops with coconut or add more chocolate chips. If you have room in the refrigerator put the cupcakes in there until the chocolate is firm, otherwise leave them on the counter for a few hours.
Hint: make cupcake flags using toothpicks and pieces of folded paper glued on.
Here are Jenny's comments about the cake: I made this cake for my vegan friend Alison's birthday last week. It was my first vegan cake and it went swimmingly! I used Kittee's chocolate cake recipe, but added some cinnamon and ginger to the batter. For the frosting, I used her beet frosting recipe, but left out the beet juice and instead added a touch of cocoa, 1/2 - 3/4 pkg melted semisweet chips (many are vegan/dairy-free) and enough soymilk to make it spreadable. I also added chopped crystallized ginger to the middle/filling layer of frosting. It was an absolutely delicious cake!!