Skinny Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

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A healthier version of decadent chocolate cupcakes, topped with a generous layer of rich fudgy frosting. No mixer required for this easy recipe!

 

An easy, no-mixer-required recipe for skinny dark chocolate cupcakes. They taste so decadent -- you can't tell they're lightened up at all!
An easy, no-mixer-required recipe for skinny dark chocolate cupcakes. They taste so decadent -- you can't tell they're lightened up at all!

 
Shortly after Thanksgiving, I stopped by the mailbox to collect our weekly Safeway circular and monthly Comcast bill, nearly bumping into my neighbor and his 8-year-old daughter as they pulled out their own pamphlets and brochures. We exchanged pleasantries as we strolled back towards our driveways, and as we parted, I overheard his little girl advise, “Daddy, you should wish for chocolate cake for after dinner!”  

My chocoholic heart smiled.

An hour later, I knocked on their door with a plate of homemade gingerbread, apologizing that it wasn’t the chocolate cake she wanted. My neighbor chuckled a bit and replied, “It’s okay; the kids will be happy to eat it anyway!”
 

An easy, no-mixer-required recipe for skinny dark chocolate cupcakes. They taste so decadent -- you can't tell they're lightened up at all!

 
Then two days before Christmas Eve, I spotted the little girl standing beside their front lawn at the end of my afternoon walk. She waved, exclaiming, “Hi Amy!” I knelt down to talk, and she proudly modeled her new sparkly teal ballet flats from Target, purchased just that afternoon for her Christmas Day outfit.

To continue our conversation, I asked, “Are you excited for New Years too?”

“Oh yes,” she responded. “It’s my birthday next month!”

“What day?” I inquired.

“January 26th,” she replied.
 

An easy, no-mixer-required recipe for skinny dark chocolate cupcakes. They taste so decadent -- you can't tell they're lightened up at all!

 
When her mom beckoned her back inside, I immediately raced home and circled the date in bright red Sharpie on my calendar, as well as January 12th, giving me a 2-week reminder to develop a chocolate cupcake recipe. Yes, despite my self-proclaimed out-of-control chocoholism, I didn’t actually have a chocolate cake recipe to call my own—and that needed to change!

After tempting lots of you with Instagram pictures, I finally perfected my recipe for Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes! They’re incredibly decadent and intensely chocolaty, topped with a generous layer of rich fudgy frosting. Despite their sinfully indulgent flavor, these cupcakes are secretly skinny—they clock in at less than 200 calories each!
 

An easy, no-mixer-required recipe for skinny dark chocolate cupcakes. They taste so decadent -- you can't tell they're lightened up at all!

 
Many luscious chocolate cake recipes require a few more steps—blooming cocoa powder, melting dark chocolate, creaming butter and sugar—but not this one! It’s about as easy as a box mix: just whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. No electric mixer required!

For the dry ingredients, you’ll actually use more cocoa powder than flour. Without any melted chocolate, the cocoa provides all of the chocolate flavor, so you’ll need 1 full cup. (Make sure you measure it correctly, just like with flour!)

I generally prefer my chocolate cakes on the denser side—but not as heavy or thick as brownies—so I added a little extra baking powder to ensure these cupcakes turned out densely airy… If that makes any sense. Not as light as angel food cake, just really moist with lots of teensy tiny air pockets inside.
 

An easy, no-mixer-required recipe for skinny dark chocolate cupcakes. They taste so decadent -- you can't tell they're lightened up at all!

 
These low-fat cupcakes only contain 2 tablespoons of oil! The rest of the moisture comes from Greek yogurt, one of my secret weapons in healthier baking. It keeps these cupcakes incredibly tender without adding excess calories. Greek yogurt tends to clump a bit when added to the wet ingredients, so make sure you whisk it in really well.

I mixed in 1 full tablespoon of vanilla extract, which is more than most recipes require. I know, I know… You’re probably scratching your head and thinking, “Amy’s gone crazy! I thought we were baking chocolate cupcakes… Not vanilla!” But the vanilla actually enhances the chocolate flavor, much like the tiny amount of coffee included in other recipes.
 

An easy, no-mixer-required recipe for skinny dark chocolate cupcakes. They taste so decadent -- you can't tell they're lightened up at all!

 
To finish the batter, alternate between stirring the dry ingredients and the milk into the egg mixture. This method prevents overworking the flour’s gluten strands. Overworked gluten results in tough, chewy cupcakes instead of the tender texture we want. Just use a fork or wooden spoon—no electric mixer needed!

I highly recommend baking the cupcakes in foil liners, like I used for my original recipe testing (seen in this Instagram picture.). I chose paper liners for these blog photographs, and they soaked up some of the moisture in the batter, leaving the cupcakes’ bottoms slightly drier than in my test batches. Either way, low-fat cupcakes almost always adhere to any kind of liner as if you superglued them together. So spray the liners with nonstick cooking spray—it prevents them from sticking!
 

An easy, no-mixer-required recipe for skinny dark chocolate cupcakes. They taste so decadent -- you can't tell they're lightened up at all!

 
I based this fudgy frosting off of my rich dark chocolate truffle recipes. You only need 4 ingredients: cocoa powder, vanilla, milk, and honey or agave. That’s right; no powdered sugar or electric mixer involved (so you won’t end up with that huge white mushroom cloud billowing out of your bowl)! Just stir those 4 things together with a fork until you reach the perfect fudgy consistency; then spread it on top of the cooled cupcakes. So simple!
 

An easy, no-mixer-required recipe for skinny dark chocolate cupcakes. They taste so decadent -- you can't tell they're lightened up at all!

 
From their tender texture to their thick fudgy frosting, these Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes simply exude decadence. They’re a chocolate lover’s dream: every intense chocolaty bite melts in your mouth, drawing you back for more until you’ve polished off every moist crumb and luxurious swirl of frosting. With their sinfully rich flavor, nobody will believe these cupcakes are actually healthy!
 

An easy, no-mixer-required recipe for skinny dark chocolate cupcakes. They taste so decadent -- you can't tell they're lightened up at all!

 
I knocked on my neighbors’ door with a plate of these cupcakes on Monday, the day after their daughter’s celebration. (I didn’t want to steal the thunder from the cake on her real birthday!) When she saw the treats, her eyes widened and she shyly whispered, “Thank you!”

The entire time, her younger brother giddily jumped up and down beside their mom, finally asking, “Will you bake me chocolate cupcakes for my birthday? With sprinkles?
 

An easy, no-mixer-required recipe for skinny dark chocolate cupcakes. They taste so decadent -- you can't tell they're lightened up at all!

 

Skinny Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Serving Size: 1 cupcake

Skinny Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

These moist cupcakes are a chocolate lover’s dream! They’re really decadent, and the rich fudgy frosting is the perfect finishing touch. Store any leftover cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 4 or 5 days.

for the cupcakes
1 c unsweetened cocoa powder (measured correctly)
¾ c all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
¾ c granulated sugar
¼ c plain nonfat Greek yogurt
½ c nonfat milk

for the frosting
1 c unsweetened cocoa powder (measured correctly)
½ c honey or agave
2 tsp vanilla extract
8-10 tsp nonfat milk

  1. To prepare the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F and place foil cupcake liners in 12 muffin cups. Lightly coat the liners with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the sugar and Greek yogurt, mixing until no large lumps remain. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour, and stirring in each until just barely incorporated. (Note: For best results, add the flour in 3 equal portions and the milk in 2 equal portions.)
  3. Divide the batter between the prepared liners. Bake at 350° for 21 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. To prepare the frosting, add the cocoa powder, honey or agave, vanilla, and 8 teaspoons of milk to a medium bowl. Stir until smooth. If the consistency is too thick, continue stirring in the remaining milk until the desired consistency is achieved. Spread on top of the cooled cupcakes.

Notes: I highly recommend foil liners! The cupcakes will stick less and stay moister than if you use paper liners. If you forget to spray the liners (foil OR paper), place the cupcakes in an airtight container for 12-24 hours to help loosen them from the liners.

If you use honey in the frosting, it will have a subtle honey undertone. Agave provides a slightly cleaner chocolate flavor, but both taste equally rich and decadent.

This recipe is also easily halved if baking for a smaller crowd!

http://amyshealthybaking.com/blog/2014/01/28/skinny-double-dark-chocolate-cupcakes/

View Nutrition Information

 

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Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles -- only 5 ingredients & 28 calories each! An easy skinny, clean-eating treat. They don't taste healthy at all!

 

Skinny Mocha Fudge -- rich, cream & guilt-free!

 

 

*Disclosure: Some of the links included in this post may be affiliate links and I will earn a small commission if you purchase through those links. I really appreciate your support!



Comments

  1. Andrea says on January 29, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I want to lick that frosting off the screen!! YUM YUM YUM!

    • Amy says on January 29, 2014 at 11:49 pm

      Thanks Andrea! I definitely scraped the extra out of the bowl to eat with a spoon. 😉

  2. Katy says on January 29, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Pinning! Definitely! These look great! I know they’re going to make it on my Super Bowl snack table. :) Thanks for another healthy recipe!

    • Amy says on January 29, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      You’re so sweet Katy; thank you! I really, really hope you enjoy these cupcakes. I can’t wait to hear what you think! :)

  3. sally @ sallys baking addiction says on January 30, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Oh Amy, these cupcakes are gorgeous! Honestly – such beautiful photography! The frosting… only 4 simple ingredients. I have to try it! I love these so much. I want one for breakfast. 😉

    • Amy says on January 30, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Thank you so much Sally!! Your sweet comment means the world to me. You’re incredibly talented when it comes to baking (and photographing!) stunning cupcakes, so I’m really touched that you think mine look good. :) Trust me, I nearly did eat one for breakfast — frosting and all!

  4. Melissa says on January 30, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    These look soooo yummy! And not too fancy (which means I can probably make them!)

    • Amy says on January 30, 2014 at 11:28 pm

      Thanks Melissa! I love easy recipes, and I’m absolutely positive you can bake these cupcakes. Your cookie posts look so yummy that you must be an excellent baker!

  5. Sarah O. says on February 14, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Wow. I have NEVER seen a frosting recipe that didn’t include powdered sugar! I kind of love it because my frostings always come out too sweet. I can’t wait to try yours out!

    • Amy says on February 14, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      Thanks Sarah! Powdered sugar frostings are usually too sweet for me too, so I usually skip them all together and eat my cakes and cupcakes plain. 😉 I can’t wait to hear what you think of this chocolate frosting!

  6. Bianca says on March 29, 2014 at 3:33 am

    This frosting looks like my idea of heaven. A dark, dreamy, delicious heaven, not laden down with the sickly-sweetness and heaviness of the typical buttercream. I think it would be my life goal to try spreading it on anything and everything (these cupcakes, pancakes, on a spoon…). One question, though: is this frosting pipe-able? I’d like to try this as a French macaroon filling! (Does that sound too crazy/unrealistic?) Thanks!

    • Amy says on March 29, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      Thanks Bianca! I definitely ate a lot of the frosting with a spoon… No cupcakes in sight. 😉 As the recipe is written, the frosting is a bit too thick to pipe, but if you add a little more milk, you could probably get it to the right consistency. (Truth be told, I don’t have the patience for piping!) And if you made French macarons, I would want to be your best friend or neighbor — those gorgeous little treats are so tempting and impressive!

  7. Allison M. says on May 15, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    What do you use the greek yogurt for? I read the recipe twice, and hope i’m just not seeing it..

    • Amy says on May 15, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      Thank you so much for catching that Allison! I’ve updated the recipe, so it should be correct now. :)

  8. Nat says on August 30, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Hi Amy!
    Your chocolate frosting is Amazing!! and so easy and healthy for a sweet treat! I will make it every time I do cupcakes now : ) I used 100% pure maple syrup and it tasted great! : )

    • Amy says on August 30, 2014 at 7:48 am

      I’m so happy your enjoyed the frosting Nat! The maple syrup version is one of my favorites too. I love its sweet undertones! :)

  9. J Wilson says on January 18, 2015 at 6:04 am

    Can you use whole wheat organic flour instead of all purpose flour?

    • Amy says on January 18, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      You can, but the cupcakes won’t be quite as moist and will have a slightly coarser texture.

  10. Austin says on March 24, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    Oooohh! It sounds perfect for my aunt! I guess I’ll double this batch. I don’t think the batter will be enough for a 24 cm springform. Oh, and btw, is the cocoa powder regular or dutch-processed? I don’t see a baking soda for a regular cocoa… or was that intentional?

    • Amy says on March 25, 2015 at 11:35 am

      There should be enough batter for a single-layer cake in your springform pan! The cocoa powder is regular unsweetened, not Dutched, and the recipe works exactly as written without baking soda. I hope you and your aunt enjoy it Austin!

      • Austin says on March 25, 2015 at 4:14 pm

        Thank you! We’ll definitely enjoy it. I just hope there’s enough for us! 1 slice won’t be enough! :))

  11. Austin says on March 30, 2015 at 4:34 am

    I made this as a cake and doubled it to make a two-layered cake. I must say, IT WAS AMAZING! BEYOND AMAZING! My aunt and family loved it! I added a little instant coffee (1/4 tsp), which added a little sourness to the cake but it was amazing because it contrasted the sweetness of the cake itself. Mmmm!! I used chocolate cream cheese frosting instead because I have no agave or honey on hand. It added tartness but still very chocolate-y and not overpowering. I just… I have no words. I love the cake by itself! It was rich and tasty and really good. I must do this again and try it with the frosting you have made! 😀

    • Amy says on March 30, 2015 at 11:51 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake Austin! I haven’t tried a two-layer cake yet with this recipe, but I think I need to try that after how much your family loved it. Thanks for reporting back, and I hope you enjoy the frosting when you try it too! :)

  12. Lucy says on July 22, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Hey Amy! I really want to bake these cupcakes – they look absolutely delicious! But I don’t have a spray for the liners, so what should I do? I also don’t have foil liners. Do you think it would work if I added a bit more oil in the cupcakes so the moisture stays? Thanks for posting this recipe! :)

    • Amy says on July 22, 2015 at 11:51 am

      If you can, I highly recommend buying cooking spray! It’s fairly inexpensive and a lot easier to use than the method I’m about to describe. 😉 Here’s what you can do: fold a paper towel into quarters, and place it over the mouth of your oil bottle. Invert the bottle 2-4 times to get oil on the paper towel. Rub the paper towel around the insides of each liner once or twice to coat it with oil. (Yes, even the paper ones!) Then proceed with the recipe as directed. You can also skip the liners and wipe the oil on the muffin cups instead, if that’s easier for you. I really hope you enjoy the cupcakes Lucy!

      • Lucy says on July 22, 2015 at 12:12 pm

        Thanks for replying so quickly! :) I’m excited to see how these turn out.

        • Amy says on July 23, 2015 at 9:37 am

          I can’t wait to hear what you think Lucy!

  13. Kelli says on August 4, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    So excited I found this. My 7yo wants chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting for her bday party and she wants to make them with me. I needed something healthier and something we could make together, so this looks just perfect. I generally use coconut oil instead of vegetable or canola, but wanted to check here first bc your experience in substitutions clearly surpasses mine in baking. But I also wondered about silicone cupcake liners instead of foil. Any experience with these? Thanks so much! I cannot WAIT to try this beauty.

    • Amy says on August 5, 2015 at 10:03 am

      You’re such a sweet mom to bake homemade cupcakes for your daughter Kelli! Coconut oil would work just fine. If you prefer silicone cupcake liners, I still recommend spraying them with cooking spray, but the bake time should remain about the same. I hope you all enjoy the cupcakes!

  14. Katie RIches says on August 20, 2015 at 5:27 am

    This recipe is so good! The cupcakes turned out lovely and chocolately, I’ll definitely be making them again. I actually somehow got 18 pretty large cupcakes, not sure how I managed that! Is there any possibility of you posting your ingredients in grams as well as cups? I have to keep converting them. Thanks a lot!

    • Amy says on August 20, 2015 at 9:49 am

      Thanks Katie! For the past year, I’ve been posting recipes in grams and cups; I just haven’t been able to convert all of my old recipes as well. Not enough hours in the day! 😉 (I actually do have the cupcake part of the recipe in grams here!) I’m not sure how you got so many cupcakes though… Were you using a standard-sized muffin tin or a mini one? I’m glad you enjoyed them!

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