I don’t care what the trendsetters say about whether cupcakes are hot or not, they are—and forever will be—my go-to dessert when I’m entertaining. They don’t take as long to bake and cool as a cake does. Plus decorating a cupcake is a lot less intimidating than decorating a cake—I just need to swipe on a dab of frosting rather than getting all artsy-fartsy with a layer cake. And, for whatever reason, if I’m seeking variety, preparing more than one kind of cupcake seems like a lot less work than baking and decorating two cakes. (Not Intimidated? Try: Banana Cream Layer Cake and More Light and Luscious Spring Cakes.)
Sure, it’s easy to stop at a bakery to pick up a dozen cupcakes. But when you look at the numbers, the calories and fat are kind of scary. You can practically have 2 homemade cupcakes for the amount of calories and fat you get in a single bakery cupcake! Plus when you make your own cupcakes, you can control the ingredients you put in (no artificial anything, and all ingredients you can pronounce) and make them more interesting and delicious (and healthy) if you add fruit or other flavorings to the batter. Lucky for all of us, EatingWell Test Kitchen Manager Stacy Fraser has used her secrets for baking healthier cupcakes to create some incredible, healthier-for-you cupcake recipes.
Here’s how homemade cupcakes stack up in terms of calories and fat when pitted against store-bought and bakery cupcakes.
Here’s Stacy’s recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
More Delicious Dessert Recipes to Try:
How to Make Homemade Fruit Bars
Healthier Homemade Ice Creams, plus Yummy Stir-In Ideas
Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
Makes: 12 cupcakes
Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hours (including cooling and chilling time)
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the frosting (Step 5) for up to 3 days. Beat cold frosting with an electric mixer to make it more spreadable, if desired. Store cupcakes airtight at room temperature for up to 1 day.
Equipment: Muffin tin with 12 (1/2-cup) cups, paper liners
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (see Note)
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise (see Tip)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12-ounce can low-fat evaporated milk, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup packed confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles for decoration
1. To prepare cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups with paper liners.
2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, cake flour, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
3. Beat granulated sugar and oil in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Scrape the black paste out of the vanilla bean into the sugar mixture. Add applesauce, egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. With the mixer on low, alternately mix in the dry ingredients and 1/2 cup evaporated milk, starting and ending with dry ingredients and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined. Divide the batter among the prepared cups (they will be full).
4. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
5. To prepare frosting: Meanwhile, whisk 2/3 cup of the remaining evaporated milk, all-purpose flour and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan until no flour lumps remain. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it looks like a thick, stiff paste, 2 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and continue whisking for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Whisk in chocolate until completely melted. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add confectioners’ sugar, cocoa and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate the frosting until thickened and cold, about 2 hours. Spread the frosting on the cooled cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if desired.
Ingredient Note: Look for whole-wheat pastry flour in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets and natural-foods stores. Store in the freezer.
Tip: If you don’t have a vanilla bean, use 1 tablespoon vanilla extract in Step 3 instead.
Per cupcake: 295 calories; 8 g fat ( 2 g sat , 3 g mono ); 40 mg cholesterol; 52 g carbohydrates; 30 g added sugars; 5 g protein; 2 g fiber; 253 mg sodium; 134 mg potassium.
What’s your favorite cupcake flavor and icing combination?
Carolyn Malcoun combines her love of food and writing in her position as contributing food editor at EatingWell. Carolyn has a culinary arts degree from New England Culinary Institute and a degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin—Madison. Carolyn lives in Portland, Maine, and enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking and running in her free time.
Related Links from EatingWell:
- 4 Secrets for Better-Tasting (and Better-for-You) Pie Crust
- 12 Chef Secrets That Will Make You a Better Cook
- Ooey-Gooey Macaroni and Cheese and More Healthy Recipes from the EatingWell Test Kitchen
- Get a free trial issue when you subscribe to EatingWell Magazine and sign up for our free e-newsletters!