While writing my Healthier Chocolate Treats cookbook, I debated which recipe to feature on the front cover for a very long time. Should it be something classic, like the chocolate chip cookies on P.76 or the fudgy brownies on P.84? Something that looked over-the-top decadent, like the peanut butter cup cheesecake on P.122? An assortment of baked treats?
Eventually, I settled on the dark chocolate cupcakes (P.114), one of my favorite desserts in the entire cookbook. When I awoke on the day of the cover photo shoot, I felt a few butterflies flitting about my stomach as the morning sped past. Even though we’re not supposed to, people still judge a book by its cover… I thought. So it has to be perfect! No pressure or anything, Amy… Oof!
In the kitchen, I sifted through my collection of 31 different paper liners, trying to find the ideal pattern and shade, preferably something that looked subtle and classy. From the back of the drawer, I picked out a sleeve of simple black liners, knowing those would let the tall frosting swirls and plum-colored title text shine.
After pulling the cupcakes from the oven and smelling their tantalizing rich cocoa aroma for what felt like years as they cooled on the counter, I filled a piping bag with the sweet light brown frosting, sneaking a taste from the spatula, and bent over the first treat, which sent the butterflies into a frenzy, threatening to burst out of my chest. Breathe, it’s okay; no pressure! I reminded myself.
I surveyed my tall frosting swirls, selected the three that looked the best, and carefully carried those cupcakes over to the table. After scattering a few baby pink and pastel purple sprinkles around the table, I turned on my camera, peered through the viewfinder, and pressed my finger down on the shutter before checking the image on the tiny digital display. Then repeated. Again and again and again, until I finally captured the perfect shot.
When Healthier Chocolate Treats came out as both a hardback cookbook and an eBook (EEK I was so excited!! You can see a special sneak peek and preview what’s inside here and order a copy too!), I thought the best way to celebrate would be with these Ultimate Healthy Dark Chocolate Cupcakes! They’re slightly different than those in my cookbook, topped with my all-time favorite fudgy chocolate frosting instead, and taste as rich and decadent as the ones you’d buy from a bakery.
So it’ll be our little secret that they’re incredibly easy to make and completely healthy!
The recipe begins with two key ingredients: white whole wheat flour and unsweetened cocoa powder. White whole wheat flour is made by finely grinding a special type of white wheat, whereas regular whole wheat flour comes from a heartier variety of red wheat. This gives white whole wheat flour a lighter taste and texture, similar to that of all-purpose flour, but it still has the same health benefits as regular whole wheat flour.
Note: Whole wheat pastry flour would be the perfect substitute, and I’ve included my preferred gluten-free flour blend in the Notes section, too.
As for the second part, you just need regular ol’ unsweetened cocoa powder! Because you’ll use 1 full cup, the cupcakes already taste really rich and dark chocolaty without Dutched or special dark cocoa powder. I actually recommend not substituting either of these. They have a different acidity level, which will affect the taste and texture of your cupcakes.
It’s also incredibly important to measure the cocoa powder correctly, using either a light hand with the this method or a kitchen scale. I highly recommend the latter! This is the inexpensive one that I own, and it was the best $20 I’ve ever spent. I use it every day! Too much cocoa powder will dry out your cupcakes and make them taste bitter, but my trusty kitchen scale ensures that these cupcakes turn out perfectly tender and rich every time.
To keep the cupcakes clean eating friendly, you’ll sweeten them with pure maple syrup instead of refined sugar. Be sure to use the real kind! Avoid pancake syrups or sugar-free syrups; those contain other ingredients that will affect the texture of your cupcakes. Pure maple syrup typically comes in thin glass containers or squat plastic jugs, and the only ingredient on the label should be “maple syrup.” You can typically find it near the other sweeteners at the grocery store, as well as online!
Low-fat cupcakes tend to stick to liners like superglue, so I have a special trick to get around that… Coat the cupcake liners with nonstick cooking spray! This simple tip means the liners will peel away much easier from the cupcakes once they’ve completely cooled. And if the cupcakes still stick more than they should, seal them inside of an airtight container for at least 24 hours to help loosen the liners a little more.
And now for my favorite chocolate frosting! It’s really rich and fudgy, almost like spreading fudge on top of the cupcakes… Pure bliss! Even better, it’s mindlessly easy to make! Simply stir together unsweetened cocoa powder, milk, vanilla, and a little liquid stevia in a bowl. That’s it! You just need a fork — no mixer required — which makes clean-up a breeze!
Note: Stevia is a plant-based, no-calorie sweetener that’s clean eating friendly, and a little goes a long way. You’ll only need ½ teaspoon! This is the kind that I buy because I love its sweet flavor and don’t notice a strange aftertaste, like with some other stevia products. You can find it at many health-oriented grocery stores, but I generally buy it online because that’s the best price I’ve found. (And you’ll use it in all of these recipes of mine, too!)
Time to celebrate the Healthier Chocolate Treats cookbook! (And maybe with a second cupcake too… Or even a third!)
When you bake yours, 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 chocolate cupcakes!
The Ultimate Healthy Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
FOR THE CUPCAKES
- 1 cup (80g) unsweetened cocoa powder (measured like this)
- ¾ cup (90g) white whole wheat flour or gluten free* flour (measured like this)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tbsp (15mL) vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (60g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- ⅔ cup (160mL) pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup (60mL) nonfat milk
FOR THE FROSTING
- ¾ cup (60g) unsweetened cocoa powder (measured like this)
- ½ cup (120mL) nonfat milk
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp liquid stevia (see Notes!)
- To prepare the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners, and generously coat the liners with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together the butter or coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in the Greek yogurt, stirring until no large lumps remain. Stir in the pure maple syrup. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and the 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 20-22 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.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
♡ Mini Chocolate Cupcakes (Vegan)
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Red Velvet Cupcakes
♡ Mini Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes
♡ Funfetti Cupcakes
♡ Mini Dark Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
♡ Pumpkin Cupcakes
♡ Almond Joy Cupcakes
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy cupcake recipes!
Hello! What can we use as a substitute for the yogurt? I can’t have dairy so I’ll be using almond milk, and what could I use for yogurt?
I really appreciate your interest in my recipe Ashley! If you can find non-dairy yogurt (like almond- or soy-based!), that would be best! 🙂 I’d love to hear what you think of these cupcakes!
Hello! Can I also substitute the wheat flour for coconut or almond flour ?
I really appreciate your interest in my recipe Ashley! Coconut flour won’t work. If you substitute almond flour, the cupcakes will most likely turn out denser and may not rise as much. As long as you don’t mind that texture difference, then it’ll work in place of the white whole wheat flour. 🙂 I’d love to hear what you think of these cupcakes if you try them!
Hi Amy, thank you for sharing this recipe!
I would like to know, is there any different between whole wheat flour and white whole wheat flour?
I also wamt to find any substitute for honey or maple syrup on the frosting. Could I change it to granulated sugar + milk?
It’s my pleasure Livia! I’ve actually covered the difference between white whole wheat flour and regular whole wheat flour in the text of my blog post above the recipe. I know it can be easy to scroll right past that! 😉 If you’d like to use granulated sugar in the frosting, substitute 3 tablespoons (36g) of granulated sugar for the stevia and decrease the nonfat milk to 6 ½ tablespoons. I can’t wait to hear what you think of these cupcakes!
Hi Amy! Thank you for the answer. Sorry, my bad, seems like I skipped some part. So is it okay if I use regular whole wheat flour for this recipe? Because on my area it’s hard to find the white whole wheat flour 🙁 Or is it better to substitute using all purpose flour?
It’s my pleasure Livia! I’ve actually covered this in the Notes section of the recipe, located directly underneath the Instructions. 🙂 I’m excited to hear what you think of these cupcakes!
Thank you for this AMAZING recipe!
I can’t wait to try it but I have a few questions.
Can I substitute the cocoa powder for more flour? Also, I’m planning on substituting the yogurt and oil for buttermilk. Do you think these substitutions will affect the cupcakes in any way (e.g texture, structure)?
Once again thank you for your FABULOUS recipe.
I really appreciate your interest in my recipe! Substituting buttermilk will affect the texture of your cupcakes. I do not recommend using it in place of the oil; these cupcakes really need that small amount of oil (or butter!) to have the proper texture. Without any oil, they’ll turn out gummy and tough. If you’d still like to use buttermilk in place of the Greek yogurt, then only use half the amount (2 tablespoons). The Greek yogurt does add protein to the batter, which helps the cupcakes maintain their shape after baking, so just keep that in mind! 🙂 Also, can you elaborate on what you mean with the flour? Do you want to substitute additional flour for the cocoa powder — and therefore not make chocolate cupcakes at all, but vanilla flavored ones?
Thank you for your detailed advice. We I would like to make this chocolate recipe vanilla.
Also, I was wondering if substituting buttermilk for oil and butter always makes cupcakes gummy and hard.
Thank you for taking time to respond to my questions.
I forgot to clarify that my question about substituting buttermilk for oil ,and whether it affect the cupcake texture, is regarding any cupcake recipe.
* baking soda/powder
If you’d like a vanilla cupcake recipe, then I’d recommend using this one of mine instead (just without the sprinkles!). Substituting buttermilk in my recipes will produce the same effect. (It may not produce the same effect in other people’s recipes, so I can only vouch for my own!) You can leave the amount of baking powder and baking soda as is.
Also if i use buttermilk would I have to increase the amount of other ingredients, such as aking soda?
Hi… Amazing receipe. I will be trying it today! Can I substitute a non fat yougurt instead of Greek yougurt.
Thanks in advance!!!
Yes, plain nonfat yogurt will be just fine! I can’t wait to hear what you think of these cupcakes Sumy! 🙂
Hi Amy! Just made these cupcakes today. My family loved it, so am I. I used whole wheat flour and sour cream instead of yoghurt and it turned out amazing. Thanks for the recipe!
I’m so glad you and your family enjoyed these cupcakes Lucy! That means a lot to me — thanks for taking the time to let me know! 🙂
Poonam Shinde says...
nice cup cakes….
Thanks! I’d love to hear what you think if you try them Poonam!
Tania Bennato says...
Hi Amy, I’m about to do a test run of your cakes for my daughter’s 2nd bday…are these mini cupcakes or regular size?
Tania Bennato says...
My mistake, I see after the 5th time reading the post it is 12 liners for a batch, so regular size works 😉
Looking forward to trying these!
I’m so honored that you’d consider making these to celebrate such a special occasion! Yes, these are standard sized cupcakes. Let me know if you have any additional questions! 🙂 I can’t wait to hear what you think of these cupcakes, and happy birthday to your daughter!
How long can these cupcakes be left at room temperature (on the counter)? Will the frosting melt?
I really appreciate your interest in my recipe Maria! The cupcakes should be fine for a a little while if left out at room temperature, but I wouldn’t leave them for more than half a day or so because the Greek yogurt inside can make them spoil. The frosting shouldn’t melt since there isn’t any butter in it! 🙂 I’d love to hear what you think of these cupcakes if you try them!
Amy, thanks for your response. Can the frosting be piped through a bag or will it lose it’s shape? I will be making these cupcakes for my sons birthday next month and was thinking that I would not frost the cupcakes until right before the party (in case frosting should stay refrigerated for as long as possible). Please share logistic ideas for setting up these cupcakes for a party…I have minimal experience with baking. I will be making these cupcakes for my sons birthday next month.
I’m SO honored that you’d want to make these cupcakes for such a special occasion Maria! That means the world to me! 🙂 This frosting doesn’t really work for piping. It’ll probably lose its shape. However, if you’d like to pipe frosting on top, then you can use this recipe of mine instead! For both frosting recipes, you should be able to frost the cupcakes an hour or two before the party. This frosting recipe can typically stand out a little longer than the other frosting recipe of mine because it doesn’t include yogurt. (And if frosting the cupcakes right before the party makes you feel a little frazzled, then you can frost them earlier in the day and refrigerate them inside of an airtight container until the party starts!)