Start by making the gingerbread tombstones. Melt the coconut oil, sugar, golden syrup, treacle and water together in a pan over a low heat. Whisk in the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and bicarbonate of soda then stir in the plain flour to form a dough.
Cover the pan and refrigerate for about an hour until firm. Shape the dough into a ball then roll it out thinly on a floured surface.
Don't worry about getting them all the same; it is good to have some different shapes and sizes. You will need 12 tombstones for the cupcakes but it is best to make a few extra so that you can pick the best ones. Re-roll the scraps and cut out more shapes (there is enough dough to make some extra biscuits)
Place the tombstones on two baking sheets lined with baking parchment and place them in the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
To make the vegan royal icing, whisk the aquafaba with an electric mixer until foamy then add the sifted icing sugar and whisk until thick and glossy. It can take a little longer than egg whites to thicken up but it is possible to over-beat it so be careful.
Place a few spoonfuls of the icing in a bowl and stir in a little vegan black gel food colouring to colour it grey. Bear in mind that the colour will deepen as it sits so aim for a couple of shades lighter than you want it to end up.
Spoon the coloured icing into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle (about 1-2mm as before) and carefully pipe a border around the edges of the tombstones.
To make the vegan chocolate cupcakes, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases.
Whisk together the dairy-free milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and instant espresso powder.
Whisk the wet and dry ingredients together until smooth but be careful not to over-beat the mixture.
Melt the chopped dark chocolate, either in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (don't let the base of the bowl touch the water), or as I do in short busts in the microwave, stirring every 10 seconds. Set aside.
Whisk together the vegetable shortening and dairy free margarine with an electric mixer until smooth, then whisk in the sifted cocoa powder followed by the sifted icing sugar and vanilla extract.
Beat the buttercream for a good few minutes until very light and fluffy then beat in the melted chocolate a little at a time.
Use a sharp knife to cut a slit into each cupcake where you want the tombstone to sit then carefully push a tombstone biscuit into the slit. Add more crushed biscuits around the tombstone and top each cupcake with a few of the dried bones.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
For the best results make sure that you follow the recipe closely. As always, I highly recommend using the gram measurements (with a digital scale), rather than the cup conversions. Cup measurements are simply not accurate enough for baking and I cannot guarantee the best results if you use them.