Secretly Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

Secretly Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

As Nathaniel & Juliet would sing, “It’s the final countdown…”

All week I have been using my colleagues at work as guinea pigs. They tasted, they described, they compared and contrasted. They weighed the issues: kids have to like them, they can’t be too messy, they need to appeal to the widest variety of tastes, and they need to feel like treats. The verdict: Tuesday’s Secretly Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes. The only decision I had left to make was about frosting.

To be completely honest, I came home utterly exhausted and uncharacteristically disinterested in spending the evening in the kitchen, but I knew I had to find some enthusiasm and excitement anyway.  I didn’t want to be baking the way Tita cooks in Like Water For Chocolate, with my emotions seeping into the food. I mustered up some joy and focused on my mission. Healthy cupcakes! Happy ones!

I’m still pretty amazed at how a delicious chocolate cupcake recipe can include THIS:


Just like last night, I whisked together the dry ingredients. This time I added a full teaspoon of espresso powder to amp up the chocolate flavor a little.

dry ingredients

Then I got to use my tiny one-egg whisk again, for one egg.

egg and wee whisk

I combined the rest of the ingredients: the egg (this time not accidentally separating it), yogurt instead of applesauce, vanilla, and zucchini.

wet ingredients with zucchini

Ew! I just can’t believe how unappetizing this looks. At least by now I know how it turns out. Before it starts to look good, it looks like this:

zucchini mixture

And then it gets worse, and looks like this:

gloppy batter


Gross, right? But then it turns into this:

chocolate batter

And this time, I took my cue from the Secretly Healthy Chocolate Cake recipe on the same site and added some mini chocolate chips. I didn’t add a lot; just shy of a quarter cup. I spooned the batter evenly into 12 muffin cups and popped the tray  into the oven.

Then I turned my attention to frosting.

Now I’ve tried healthy frosting. Honey, yogurt, applesauce…none of it ever adds up to frosting. I didn’t want to go full-on buttercream and negate everything I’d done with the zucchini & yogurt, so I opted for a simple cream cheese frosting that would be easy to work with but still taste sweet and treat-like. The bottom line is that for good frosting, you really need powdered sugar.

powdered sugar

Also, good frosting has LOTS of powdered sugar. I started with just under two cups and ended up adding a little more before I was done.  Mostly I spent my time just watching the mixer go around and scraping the edges of the bowl. Butter, light cream cheese, and powdered sugar all turned into this:


Yes! Frosting! Real frosting!

I tasted, I celebrated, and put it nto an airtight container. Kept it in the fridge overnight, took it out early in the morning, and frosted all the cupcakes before I left for work. Added 5 butterscotch chips to the top of each one, while Nathaniel & Juliet wistfully watched.

“Are those for us?”
“No, not this time. Sorry.”
“Oh MAN.”

Sorry guys.

(And should I mention that I’m watching Chopped right now, as I type, and one of the ingredients is cream cheese frosting? It’s destiny.)

The cupcakes were good to go. I packed them up.

cupcakes in the carrier

And then it was out of my hands. I delivered them to Carol at Grand Central and hoped for the best. I sent the cupcakes off to a day of Read It All Up® with The Bake Shop Ghost.

The Bake Shop Ghost

To be continued…



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