Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Healthy-ish cacao cupcakes

June is always a crazy month here in Hong Kong. School breaks up for the year at the end of this month . . . so being a teacher I'm busy writing reports, marking assessments etc. Plus every weekend in June (and most weeknights too) seem to be booked up with something social in an effort to cram things in before everyone takes off for our Summer holidays over July-August. . . .just over two weeks to go yay! What I'm secretly looking forward to is more Thermomix 'play' time, as well as quality family time of course! :)

Last weekend . . the first weekend I have neglected to post a recipe on my blog so far :( . . . both our girls were involved in performing for their end of year dance shows over two days! Lucky for mummy (not) they were in two different shows, so I was busy getting them to their rehearsal (1hr away by bus, ferry & taxi - such is HK life without a car) and then hanging out til they performed hours later two days in a row! . . . So needless to say it was a long weekend and they needed something nutritious (and fun to eat) to help them (& mummy) last the distance. . . that's where my chocolate cupcakes (or muffins) come in!  My girls adore cupcakes, as does any child really, so I thought I'd use this as an excuse to have a play and develop a healthy-ish version of their chocolate favourite! BTW my girls delighted us with their performances as we knew they would, so all the effort was well worth it. I just have to share this photo of Miss 8 with you . . my elegant ballerina performing to Swan Lake :)
I must say that I am no stranger to formulating healthier versions of this chocolate treat! I have cleverly disguised spinach & carrot inside a chocolate cupcake/muffin in the past, but this time I thought I'd not go quite as far and settle for making them something which is healthier than the standard recipe, but not quite as adventurous as earlier versions :)

The 'Baci' inspired healthy 'buttercream' (or nut-buttercream) or frosting . . call it what you like! . . actually started out as my experiment for a raw ice-cream which is reminiscent of a soft-serve in texture. . . velvety and smooth. . I fell in love instantly! Frozen banana is a very common ingredient in raw ice-cream, but blend it with raw cacao and ground hazelnuts and it is divine! I'm not a huge fan of the banana flavour, so the addition of these flavourings effectively camouflages this taste for me :) You have to try it!  Of course, the frosting doesn't travel well, especially sitting around all day in 36 degree heat! So I did save it for the leftover cupcakes we finished off at home.

And here is the recipe . .
Healthy-ish cacao cupcakes
These cupcakes are rich, dark, moist and fluffy and considerably healthier than most conventional chocolate cupcakes or muffins with about half the fat and sugar. The topping is so healthy it doesn't count :) . . . it's made from banana, hazelnuts and antioxidant-loaded raw cacao . . . 

2 small apples, peeled & quartered
3 fresh meijool dates
1 tbsp water
1 large egg
50g organic extra virgin macadamia or avocado oil 
70g natural yoghurt
80g coconut milk 
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or liquid extract)
150g organic white spelt flour
20g organic brown basmati rice flour (mill first in your Thermomix)
50g organic raw cacao powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb soda
70-80g organic sucanat (rapadura) sugar (+ 1 tsp stevia powder - optional)
optional: add choc chips to the batter

'Baci' inspired choc-hazelnut frosting:
50g hazelnuts
120g frozen banana pieces
4 fresh meijool dates
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla paste

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. First cook (stew) the apples & dates to make your own apple sauce which works well as a fat replacer, plus the dates add some natural sweetness. Add the apple and dates to the TM bowl. Chop finely on speed 4 for 10 seconds and scrape the sides. Add 1 tbsp water and cook at 100°C for 10 minutes on reverse, speed soft. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Add egg, oil, yoghurt, vanilla and coconut milk to the TM bowl. Mix on speed 3 for 10 seconds or until well combined.
  4. Add cacao powder, spelt flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, rice flour and sucanat and mix until just combined on speed 5 (it is important that you do not over-mix).
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into cupcake liners and bake for about 12-14 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack. Now wash your TM bowl ready to make the frosting / healthy 'buttercream' !
For the healthy frosting: place the hazelnuts in the TM bowl and grind on speed 9 for 1 minute. Add the frozen banana and dates and chop on speed 4 for 30 seconds. Add the raw cacao and vanilla and blend for 5-10 seconds or until smooth and light on speed 6. 

Spoon the frosting into a disposable piping bag and attach your tip of choice! This frosting keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days. It is a good idea to store the frosting in the bag and pipe it onto the cupcakes just prior to serving. Enjoy!

  • If you have a sweet tooth, you might like to add stevia or use extra sucanat. Personally, I love the rich, dark chocolate flavour, but your children are likely to prefer a little more sweetness.
  • Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips for a little more fun! Combine on reverse or using the spatula at the last step.
  • You could use coconut oil instead of macadamia oil, but it does tend to give the cupcake a coconut flavour because the recipe also includes coconut milk. If you want to use coconut oil, perhaps swap the coconut milk for another plant-based milk or more yoghurt.

no thermomix?
make recipe as per your usual method for muffins/ cupcakes. . . mix all the dry ingredients first in a large bowl, then in a separate bowl or jug whisk the liquid ingredients together, and then add to the dry ingredients. This is the two-bowl method. Mix only briefly by hand or using an electric mixer until just combined. If you over-mix your cupcakes/ muffins they will be tough and heavy. Of course, you will have to stew up the apples and dates in a saucepan or in the microwave and blend to a puree first. 

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1 comment:

  1. I think this has gone straight to the top 3 recipes in my thermomix! my kids loved them and i felt great that they were healthy-ish! i accidentally left the vanilla out so looking forward to making them again and including the missing ingredient.