Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Insert paper liners into 12 standard muffin cups.
Prepare the soaking liquid by combining the ¼ cup sugar with the 3 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar has melted and continue to boil for 1 minute or until it thickens slightly. Let cool while preparing the cupcakes.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, water, Vegenaise and 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste until fully combined and no lumps from the Vegenaise. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups (it will be fairly liquid). Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until firm to the touch, browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
Cut a cone the diameter of a dime out of the top of each cupcake and save the cut out parts. Spoon the soaking liquid into the center of each cupcake. Replace the cone back into the cupcakes when the soaking liquid has absorbed. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.
Prepare the frosting while the cupcakes cool. In a mixing bowl, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the Earth Balance, powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste and salt. Mix, starting on low speed, to combine. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and then turn the mixer to medium and beat for about 60 seconds. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency – it should be thick, smooth and spreadable.
Frost the cooled cupcakes with the frosting and decorate as desired.
This gluten free recipe makes 12 cupcakes