Today’s recipe is brought to you in collaboration with Earth Balance. They make top-quality vegan, non-GMO, and 100% plant-based products (how cool is that??), including the buttery sticks that help give these adorable cupcakes their rich flavor and tender texture!
About seven months after I started this food blog, I decided to adopt a vegan diet for a month to challenge for myself to get out of my cooking comfort zone and try something new. (My intimidation by cooking meat—aka anything other than chicken—may have had something to do with it too… But shh, don’t tell!)
In preparation, I poured myself a bowl of cereal for breakfast and dessert nearly every day for the next week to finish off my new half-gallon of nonfat milk, and I baked big batches of lemon bars and angel food cupcakes to use the unopened carton of eggs in my fridge. I also printed out various vegan-friendly shopping lists posted online by the healthy grocery store chains in town, carefully highlighting the items that sounded tempting and scribbling notes in the margins.
The day before I officially began my vegan month, I bought lots of tempeh, tofu, and seitan for protein; vanilla soy milk and new granola (sweetened with brown rice syrup instead of honey!) for my morning meals; and soy-based shredded “mozzarella” along with my typical fruits and veggies. I refused to give up pizza or quesadillas!
Because I loved to bake and refused to give that up too, I also purchased a vegan dessert cookbook from a bookstore downtown, and I found egg replacement powders and Earth Balance Buttery Sticks at the grocery store. Certain recipes, like chocolate chip cookies, just don’t taste the same when made vegan-friendly with oil… They need that irresistible buttery flavor!
I successfully made it through the next month, and I really enjoyed that plant-based diet. I looked forward to eating lots of veggies, more than I typically did in the weeks before, and I also became much more conscientious of vegan-friendly baking. It was really difficult to find suitable baked goods at the grocery store—even something as simple as a loaf of bread!
Over the past few years, my brother actually developed an egg allergy and lactose intolerance, and because he now tries to stick with vegan-friendly baked goods, nearly every treat that I share with him is vegan. So when he basically aced all of his finals at the end of his quarter at graduate school a couple of weeks ago, we celebrated with these…
Mini Dark Chocolate Banana Cupcakes! They’re moist and perfectly tender, just like traditional cupcakes, but they contain absolutely no eggs, dairy, refined flour or sugar. How awesome is that?? And that rich frosting… Just hand me a bowl of that with a spoon, and it’ll disappear in a heartbeat!
In these healthier cupcakes, the mashed banana plays four main roles. It gives them their fruity flavor, replaces the eggs, adds natural sweetness, and creates an extremely tender texture. You’ll need about 2 large bananas, and try to use the darkest, spottiest ones you can find! Those ripe bananas will be sweeter than plain yellow ones, which is ideal for sweetening cupcakes.
The other part of the tender texture comes from Earth Balance Buttery Sticks. I fell in love with Earth Balance five years ago during my vegan month because it tastes like butter, melts like butter, and is great for baking. (Plus my brother really appreciates it when I use it in his baked goods!) You can find the buttery sticks at just about any grocery store, as well as Earth Balance’s other vegan-friendly products.
To boost the sweetness, you’ll also use a combination of powdered stevia and liquid stevia. Stevia is a plant-based, no-calorie sweetener that’s clean eating friendly, and it’s very concentrated. A little goes a long way! You’ll only need a few teaspoons of the powdered stevia and half a teaspoon of the liquid stevia for all 30 little cupcakes. (You’ll also use them in all of these recipes of mine, too!)
And finally, the frosting… Oh my goodness, this frosting. It’s one of the best chocolate frostings that I’ve ever eaten, and it’s so simple! You just need cocoa powder, milk, vanilla, and sweetener. Yes, that’s it! No messy powdered sugar and no mixers required—just a fork and a bowl.
It’s important that you measure the cocoa powder correctly, using either the spoon and level method or a kitchen scale. I highly recommend the latter—this is the inexpensive one that I own! Too much cocoa powder will make the frosting taste bitter instead of decadent like 72% dark chocolate. And if you prefer your frosting sweeter, you can always add more sweetener to taste!
Now who’s ready to bake—and eat!—some cupcakes?? 😉 And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy mini banana cupcakes!
Healthy Mini Dark Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
FOR THE CUPCAKES
- 2 cups (240g) white whole wheat flour or gluten free* flour (measured like this)
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp (12g) powdered stevia
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp (14g) Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, melted
- 1 cup (260g) mashed banana (about 2 large ripe bananas – see Notes!)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp liquid stevia
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp (150mL) unsweetened cashew milk
- To prepare the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 30 mini muffin cups with paper liners, and coat the liners with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, powdered stevia, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together the Earth Balance, banana, and vanilla. Mix in the liquid stevia and 2 tablespoons of milk. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and the remaining milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.)
- Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners. Bake at 350°F for 12-14 minutes or until the centers feel firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To prepare the frosting, add the cocoa powder to a small bowl, and make a well in the center. Pour in the milk, vanilla, and liquid stevia. Stir until thoroughly combined. Spread on top of the cooled cupcakes.
This post was sponsored by Earth Balance. As always, all text, opinions, recipe, and photographs are my own.
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Healthy Mini Banana Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
♡ Healthy Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
♡ Healthy Banana Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting
♡ Healthy Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
♡ Healthy Chocolate Banana Bread
♡ Healthy Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Cookies
♡ Healthy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Brownies
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy cupcake recipes and healthy vegan-friendly recipes!