I decided to be rebellious this week. I made cupcakes…in January. Not just cupcakes in January, but cupcakes at the beginning of January- a mere 10 days from then date when most of us made resolutions to be healthy and eat more veggies. Why you ask? Why is she posting this delicious looking cupcake recipe when all I’ve had to eat for the last week is salad? The answer- because I am a firm believer that we all need a little sweet in our lives now and then…even on the 10th of January. Oh, and I also really like cupcakes.
I tried to be nice about it though. This recipe has been given a complete health make over, and while not comparable to say a handful of carrot sticks or a bowl of kale soup, it’s far better for you than a twinkie or a bag of cheese puffs. Okay…so those were weird comparisons. What I am trying to say is that eating one of these cupcakes will not undo all the good you’ve done in the last 10 days of salad eating.
Here’s what I did so these cupcakes could pass the January health test. First, I replaced all the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour. Have you ever used this stuff? It’s amazing. All the benefits of whole wheat with out the heavy, chewy texture. I also cut the sugar from 1 1/2 cups to 2/3 of a cup. It seems like a large amount to cut out and I was a bit skeptical, especially since the recipe includes both lime juice and lime zest. I was pleasantly surprised though. When I first bit into one I was greeted by a mild sweetness that was balanced perfectly by a tangy burst of lime. Now that’s my kind of healthy! The final modification in this cupcake makeover was to replace one egg with ground flax meal.
I am a HUGE fan of ground flax meal. I love to sprinkle it on and in everything. It’s a really easy way to get in those omega 3 that everyone is always talking about, and it has a mild enough flavor that you can add it to most anything without even noticing. Normally I just add a couple tablespoons to whatever I am making but with something light and delicate like cupcakes I was afraid it might mess with the balance and make them too dry. So when I came across this bit of advice for using it as an egg substitute I knew I had the answer. It’s really simple. For each egg you are replacing mix one tablespoon ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water. I only replaced one of the eggs that the recipe called for but it worked so well that next time I will try replacing both. There you have it- a healthier cupcake that you can eat even in January.
But wait! I almost forgot about the frosting. What can you do to make cream cheese frosting more healthy? Hmmm…ditch it for something that isn’t comprised solely of cream cheese, butter and sugar. Yeah, that’s probably the right answer but I couldn’t bear to give it up. So what did I do? I cut the amount in half. Half the amount of frosting for the same amount of cupcakes. A perfect solution if you ask me. It was still enough frosting to give each cupcake a nice coating but not so much that it was piled up and spilling over the edges.
My final bit of advice for making guilt-free cupcakes- share them. I love to share my baked goods not only because it makes people happy when you show up at their house with cookies and cupcakes, but because it also means less for me to eat!
Key Lime Cupcakes
Inspired by Bon Appetite
1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
3 tablespoons water
2 1/2 tablespoons key lime juice (from about 5 key limes)
1 tablespoon key lime zest
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 ounces 1/3-less fat cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon key lime juice
1 teaspoon key lime zest
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl mix the ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl fitted with an electric mixer, or using a hand held mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high until fluffy. Add the egg and the ground flax seed mixture, beating well between each addition.Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the key lime juice and zest. Turn the mixer to low and add the buttermilk and flour mixture in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared baking cups. Bake for 20-35 minutes or until a wooden tester inserted comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack before frosting.
5. Make the frosting: If your butter and cream cheese are soft enough you can easily make the frosting with just a wire whisk- make sure you sift the powdered sugar though to avoid lumps. Of course, using an electric beater is fine too. Whisk or beat the cream cheese and butter until well combined. Sift the powdered sugar over the butter and cheese mixture and add the lime juice and zest. Whisk or beat well to combine.
6. Spread the frosting evenly over each cupcake. Top with a lime slice for garnish if desired.