Skinny Single-Serving Microwave Spice Cupcake

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An easy recipe for a maple cinnamon cupcake topped with sweet vanilla frosting. A much lighter & secretly skinny version of the typical mug cake!



Throughout elementary school, I intensely feared buying lunch, practically to the point of tears. With the long lines stretching out the door of the MPR (Multi-Purpose Room) and half of the dishes clashing with my picky eater palate, my parents took pity on me and packed my midday meal every single day in my purple insulated lunch box.


When my teacher released us as the noon bell rang, I happily skipped outside to the old brown picnic tables and unzipped my tote. I always found the same meal: half an apple, sliced (my younger brother received the other half in his lunch); half of a bagel with cream cheese or half of a peanut butter sandwich (no jelly, no honey, no bananas—just extra peanut butter!); and a treat.  



With very little time or desire to bake, Mom normally tucked in store-bought desserts instead. Although she tended to choose the variety according to the supermarket’s weekly sales, she often fell back on our favorite Little Debbie treats: oatmeal crème pies, Swiss rolls, and—the absolute best—chocolate cupcakes.


Most of my friends stared enviously across the table as I unwrapped my dessert. They tried bartering or trading their homemade chocolate chip cookies for my cupcake; everybody adored that creamy vanilla frosting in the middle. I often ended up splitting my cupcake in half for a few bites of their cookies since I just couldn’t bear completely parting with it!



But now when I crave a cupcake, I feel a little guilty turning to those Little Debbie chocolate ones. For starters, their Nutrition Labels don’t look very appealing, and secondly, my mom isn’t there to remind me, “Just eat one, Amy.” I’d be tempted to sneak another without a parent in the house to stash the box in a secret hiding spot!


Instead of caving and splurging on a single gourmet cupcake from the boutique downtown, I decided to create my own recipe for a single-serving one—and make it healthier, using entirely wholesome ingredients. Because the summer heat wave already hit my town last week (90°+ and climbing!), I turned to the microwave to avoid creating a sauna in the house just for a single dessert.



The result? This Skinny Single-Serving Microwave Spice Cupcake! With its cozy cinnamon taste and sweet vanilla frosting, this classic treat easily won over my heart—and taste buds—compared to that packaged chocolate dessert of my childhood. (And I’m a diehard chocoholic!) Even better, this cupcake is low fat, low calorie and completely clean-eating friendly!



The recipe itself is very basic. Just mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another; then stir them together and pop in the microwave! However, compared to typical mug cake recipes that require 3 tablespoons of oil, an egg yolk, and more fat-laden ingredients, my version only needs ¼ teaspoon of oil and no eggs at all!


You’ll replace the egg with Greek yogurt. It’s my secret weapon in healthier baking: it adds all of the moisture of butter and oil, but without the excess fat and calories! It also contains extra protein, which actually helps provide the structure to this cupcake because it lacks the egg’s protein. I haven’t tried regular yogurt, but if you do, please let me know how that goes!



To cook your cupcake in the microwave, you MUST follow these guidelines.


1. Use a standard-sized coffee mug. (Like the one pictured above!) If you use a silicon muffin cup or a ramekin, the cupcake will rise above the rim and spread outward into a flat mushroom top. The tall sides of the coffee mug force the cupcake batter straight up, so its top will look normal instead.


2. Use a paper cupcake liner. Do NOT, under any circumstance, use a metal cupcake liner in the microwave. When you put metal in the microwave, it catches on fire. Please oh please, do NOT burn your house down! But because it’s paper, this low-fat cupcake wants to stick to the liner like superglue, so after placing the paper cup inside of the coffee mug, liberally coat both of them with nonstick cooking spray.


3. Microwave on 30% power. Zapping the cupcake on high increases the chance that you’ll overcook it, resulting in a tough and rubbery treat. Instead, bake it at 30% power for 2 minutes and 35 seconds. When the timer dings, immediately run a knife around the cupcake’s top and invert the mug to pop out the treat. The side edges will still look wet and underdone, but they continue to cook through from the inside out as the cupcake cools. Trust me on this!



Now for the frosting! You just need 4 ingredients: Greek yogurt, Truvia, vanilla, and xanthan gum. Stir the first three together in a bowl, and adjust the sweetness level to suit your tastes before adding the xanthan gum. The xanthan gum immediately thickens the yogurt, and it’ll turn the mixture soupy if you stir too much! If you let the soupy frosting sit for 20 minutes, it’ll thicken up a little more, but not completely to a pipe-able consistency.


If you don’t own xanthan gum, that’s okay! Just spread the frosting on top of the cupcake instead, or substitute your favorite canned version instead. I’ll never know!



Although slightly different than my lunch box treat, this Skinny Single-Serving Microwave Spice Cupcake satisfied my sweet tooth even more. The homey hint of maple… The warm burst of cinnamon… The classic vanilla frosting… They all combined into one magical bite that left me hungry for more sweltering summer days—just for another excuse to make this cupcake again!


So… Who else is ready for a cupcake?



Skinny Single-Serving Microwave Spice Cupcake

Yield: 1 cupcake

Skinny Single-Serving Microwave Spice Cupcake

This sweet cinnamon cupcake and classic vanilla frosting are the perfect pairing! Add a hint of nutmeg to the batter or a touch of cocoa powder to the frosting for a fun twist.

for the cupcake
3 ½ tbsp whole wheat flour (measured correctly)
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
scant 1/8 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tbsp plain nonfat Greek yogurt
2 ½ tsp maple syrup
2 ½ tsp nonfat milk
¼ tsp vanilla

for the frosting
3 tbsp plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 ¼ tsp Truvia, or to taste (or other sweetener)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1/16 tsp xanthan gum (optional; for thickening to make frosting pipe-able)

  1. To prepare the cupcake, line a standard-sized coffee mug with a paper cupcake liner, and generously coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, stir together the coconut oil, yogurt, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla. Add in the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated.
  3. Carefully spoon the batter into the prepared liner. Microwave on 30% power for 2 minutes 35 seconds (2:35). Allow the cupcake to cool for 30 seconds before running a knife around the edge to loosen. Immediately invert the coffee mug, shake out the cupcake, and cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. To prepare the frosting, stir together the yogurt, Truvia, and vanilla until smooth. Taste the mixture, and add more sweetener if necessary. Add the xanthan gum, and stir until just barely incorporated. Spread or pipe on top of the cooled cupcake.

Notes: Do NOT use a metal cupcake liner!! Metal cupcake liners will catch on fire in the microwave.

The edges of the cupcake may still look wet and underdone when you remove it from the coffee mug. However, they will finish cooking through from the inside out as the cupcake cools on a wire rack.

Do NOT over-mix the frosting after adding in the xanthan gum! It thickens quite rapidly, but if you over-stir, the frosting will turn soupy. (It will thicken if you let it sit for 10-20 minutes, but it won’t thicken enough to pipe again.)

If using a regular oven, bake at 350°F for 16-19 minutes, or until the top barely feels firm and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

View Nutrition Information


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  1. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says on May 7, 2014 at 5:02 am

    A maple cinnamon cupcake made in the microwave?! I absolutely love this recipe, Amy! What a great idea when you just want one cupcake, not a dozen, and don’t want to heat up the house with the oven. Unfortunately, there’s no heat wave by me yet, although it is supposed to be around 80 degrees here today (hooray!), but I’m adding this to my list of recipes to try, and soon! Pinned!

    • Amy says on May 8, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      Thank you so much Gayle, for both your sweet comment and the pin! 80° sounds incredible! Perfectly warm without being overly sweltering — the best flip flop and shorts weather. I’m excited to hear what you think of the cupcake when you try it! :)

  2. Mary Frances says on May 7, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    This is perfect, Amy! And since you are a fellow cinnamonaholic (wow, that is a long word … :) ) I know I won’t have to double it to make sure I actually taste it! I have gone overboard with cinnamon a couple times – it was scarring 😉 Mug cakes are so fun to whip and I appreciate how they force me to only eat one. This is one gorgeous cupcake!

    • Amy says on May 8, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      Oh gosh yes — if you ever find a Cinnamonaholics Anonymous, let me know! 😉 I actually didn’t think it was possible to add too much cinnamon until this past Thanksgiving. I baked a pie the night before, but didn’t have time to test it ahead of time or sample it before driving down to my parent’s house. The only way we could eat it was completely doused in whipped cream; it was basically required to balance out the excess spice!

  3. Brittany says on May 7, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    OMG OMG OMG I am so trying this, but with a few tweaks. Also I don’t own a microwave so I’ll use my toaster oven!! I NEED a single serve recipe.

    • Amy says on May 8, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      YAY!!! I’m SO excited to hear about your tweaks! And I’d be really interested to hear how long it takes to bake in the toaster oven too. :) (That’s my other go-to for small scale recipes on hot days so I don’t heat up the house!)

  4. Karen @ The Food Charlatan says on May 8, 2014 at 12:11 am

    This is the first microwave cake recipe I’ve seen that calls for using 30% power. Good idea! I’m ready to give it another try. All the ones I’ve had have been gummy and yuck.

    And oh, oh how wish my mother was still here to tell me, Just one Karen. ha!

    • Amy says on May 8, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      Oh my, the things I need my mother for too… It’d probably save me lots of sugar-high stomachaches while recipe testing! 😉 Using reduced power for microwave recipes has been my favorite trick. I’ve used it for a single-serving brownie and granola, and it worked like a charm! Full power is almost like broiling the cupcake in the oven on all sides… Not exactly the best idea!

  5. Dorothy @ Crazy for crust says on May 8, 2014 at 6:44 am

    I wish I could be a fly on the wall at Jordan’s lunch. She’s one of the only kids that gets a treat – I’m a die hard treat at lunch person so she is too. (Obviously)

    I love that this is a spice cupcake. I’m so making it for Mel when Whole30 is over- they’re one of his favs!

    • Amy says on May 8, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      Jordan must be the most popular girl at lunch, especially because most of her treats must be your sweet creations! I’d love to hear what Mel thinks of the cupcake! His Whole30 month can’t end soon enough. 😉

  6. Andrea says on May 8, 2014 at 10:47 am

    One of my biggest pet peeves with single serving desserts is that they always seem soooo unhealthy… Can’t wait to try this one out!! Great idea!

    • Amy says on May 8, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      Thanks Andrea! It really scares me what “single-serving” recipes look like these days. 3 tablespoons of oil + an egg yolk (basically 1/2 a tablespoon of oil) + more chocolate? I’d need to run 8 miles to feel like I could justify eating that! 😉

  7. Jocelyn@Brucrewlife says on May 10, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    I love reading your sweet childhood stories! 😉 And this cupcake sounds awesome! I love that it’s healthy AND made so quickly! The perfect dessert!

    • Amy says on May 10, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      Aww thanks Jocelyn! I have so many stories stuck inside my head just bursting to come out and tell themselves. 😉 So true — the best desserts always seems to be the ones that come together really quickly!

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