When you're thinking of baking up a batch of cupcakes, making them healthier probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. You want them to be beautiful and you want them to be tasty. But we're here to tell you that you can have all it all: a healthier cupcake that looks good and tastes good too.
Cupcakes already have a healthier edge over cake, because they're a perfectly portioned treat that might make you feel less tempted to overindulge. Making the cupcakes from scratch helps you control the ingredients and make healthier choices you can feel good about serving your kids. Boxed cake mixes and frosting tubs might be an easy option, but many of them contain artificial flavors, colors and ingredients that are hard to pronounce.
The EatingWell Test Kitchen has baked up hundreds of cupcakes over the years to perfect their healthy cupcake recipes. Here are their best tips for making your cupcakes healthier—and still delicious.
The “secret ingredient” in these coconut–infused blueberry cupcakes—mashed potatoes—gives the cake great texture, almost like pound cake. The fluffy frosting is just fun. Because it’s low in calories and fat, you can spread or pipe a generous amount on top of each cupcake to make them look extra festive. The frosting stiffens as it stands, so be sure to put it on the cupcakes right after you make it.
The chopped cherries blend into the ultra–rich chocolate cake, giving it a slight cherry flavor while keeping it super–moist with little added oil. The combination of reduced–fat cream cheese and sour cream gives the frosting cheesecake–like flavor with about 40 calories and 3 grams saturated fat less than a traditional cream cheese frosting.
Raspberry puree is the perfect color for turning the frosting a gorgeous shade of pink. For those unaccustomed to the mildly nutty flavor of whole–wheat flour (used in these cupcakes), the flavor of the raspberry puree swirled into the lemony cake make the wheat flavor undetectable.
These vanilla–infused cupcakes are made with applesauce as a fat–replacer for butter that’s traditionally part of vanilla cake batter. Thickened evaporated milk works as a great base for the rich and creamy chocolate frosting. Dark chocolate lovers, be sure to use bittersweet chocolate.
To make your cupcakes look even more festive, try baking them in decorative paper cupcake liners. And jazz up the frosting with natural, plant-based food dyes (pictured here, stirred into our cream cheese frosting). Find liners and decorating supplies at wilton.com; liners, decorating supplies and natural food dyes at kingarthurflour.com.