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!
I really love your recipes I aways trust that it will turn great!! But I have a Q why does the frosting is too watery although I measured it exactly like what you have written?? Can you please let me know
Much appreciate it.
I truly appreciate your kind words about my recipes, Sarah! That’s not how this frosting should turn out, so I’m happy to help solve that issue. In order to do so, I have some questions for you! 🙂
By “too watery,” do you mean it’s as thin and liquidy as milk? Or a little thicker, like honey? Or just that it’s not stiff enough to pipe?
Did you make any modifications to the frosting, including those listed in the Notes section?
Did you use a kitchen scale or measuring cups/spoons for all of the frosting ingredients — especially the cocoa powder and milk?
If you used one of the alternative sweeteners (pure maple syrup, honey, or agave), did you use a kitchen scale to measure them?
What’s the exact cocoa powder that you used? (Brand + product name!)
How was the flavor? Was that okay, and it’s just the consistency that’s too runny?
I know I just asked a LOT of questions, but I’ll have a much better idea of the culprit (and how to fix it!) once I know your answers to all of them!
Hi Amy, I’m Lisa , I enjoy your recipes. But I don’t eat yogurt of any kind, what can I substitute for the yogurt and still have it
turn out right. And can I use the substitute for all recipes with yogurt. I don’t like the taste the recipes have. I Thank you for your time.
I’m so glad you’re enjoying my recipes, Lisa! Thank you for taking the time to let me know. That really means a lot! 🙂
When you made these chocolate cupcakes as directed, were you able to taste the yogurt in them?
In the majority of my recipes that include yogurt in a batter or dough (ie where it’s then baked in an oven, as opposed to something like frosting or whipped cream that isn’t!), you shouldn’t be able to taste the yogurt in the finished baked treats. It’s there to provide moisture and a better texture, and any sort of yogurt flavor should be masked by the other ingredients by the time the treats come out of the oven. Some of my family members are really sensitive to the taste of yogurt, but they can’t detect it when it’s inside of batters and doughs — like in these cupcakes, muffins, scones, quick breads, brownies, etc!
Because my recipes were specifically designed to use yogurt, I can’t vouch for whether any other substitutes will work. Although others may provide a similar moisture content, they might not result in the same texture. You’re welcome to experiment on your own though! That’s how I develop my recipes… Through experimenting, trial, and error! 😉