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Small Batch Healthier Chocolate Cupcakes

healthier chocolate cupcakes sits on a white plate.
Recipe At-A-Glance
Small Batch, Vegan3 1/2 hours (mostly hands off)
These Small Batch Healthier Chocolate Cupcakes are fudgy and tender, and only make four cupcakes. Perfect for chocolate cravings!

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Valentine’s Day has never been a big thing in the Johnston household. We have a lot of relationship milestones this time of year (February 12, my husband’s immigration anniversary; February 13, anniversary of the first day we met online; March 17, our wedding anniversary), so Valentine’s Day kinda falls by the wayside each year.

That’s not to say I don’t LOVE Valentine’s Day—I totally do. I’m a sucker for hearts and sprinkles and candy and red and pink and glitter and roses and lovey-dovey stuff. I just can’t find fault with a day that’s about bringing more love into the world. Yes, we should shower our loved ones with compassion and appreciation all year ’round, but it doesn’t hurt anyone to go a little bit above and beyond one day a year, does it?

Our Valentine’s Day plans are pretty tame this year (and honestly, on par with how we’ve celebrated every February 14th for the past decade). They involve a toddler, some sort of decadent pasta dish, and maybe a bottle of wine if we can find the corkscrew that said toddler hid somewhere in the kitchen cabinets. And these chocolate cupcakes. Because it’s not Valentine’s Day without some fudgy, rich, dark chocolate, now is it?

I’m in love with this cupcake recipe for exactly three reasons:

(1) It is mega-delicious. We’re talking fudgy, tender, perfectly chocolate-tastic cupcakes.

(2) It’s made with all “healthy” and “natural” ingredients (in quotes because everyone needs to define what those two words mean for themselves). No refined sugars (in fact, the fudgy frosting is just sweetened with dates). All whole wheat flour.

(3) It’s small batch—it makes two big, holiday-celebrating chocolate cupcakes or four normal-size cupcakes. A perfect treat for those of us who have uncontrollable sweet teeth—no extra cupcakes tempting me in the kitchen is a good thing.

An unwrapped healthier chocolate cupcake sits on a white plate.

I’ve been playing around more lately with plant-based cooking in my kitchen, and I’m having a blast because it feels like a whole new territory of healthy cooking to discover! I tested these chocolate cupcakes with both “normal” omnivore ingredients (butter and an egg), and I also did some testing to perfect these using vegan ingredients, too, but couldn’t quite nail it down perfect enough to publish. I’m gonna keep on working on it!

I now realize that making multiple batches of these kinda defeats the purpose of a small batch recipe—but I’ll take one for the team, because that’s how much I love you guys.

A healthier chocolate cupcake sits on a white plate.

Even with non-planted based ingredients, these cupcakes are definitely a better choice for you than your run-of-the-mill cupcakes—and I promise, they taste just as awesome! Enjoy.

 
Small Batch Healthier Chocolate Cupcakes

Small Batch Healthier Chocolate Cupcakes

Yield: 4 cupcakes
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

These Small Batch Healthier Chocolate Cupcakes are fudgy and tender, and only make four cupcakes. Perfect for chocolate cravings!

Ingredients

For the Frosting

  • 1/2 cup pitted Medjool dates (about 5-6)
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

For the Cupcakes

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, beaten

Instructions

  1. Begin with the frosting by placing the pitted dates in a tall, narrow container (like a small Mason jar or measuring cup). Pour over boiling water, and use a spoon to push the dates into the water as much as possible. Let soak 15 minutes.
  2. Once soaking time is finished, pour the dates and soaking water into a high-powered blender (like my Ninja). Add in the cocoa or cacao powder, vanilla, and salt. Blend on high until very smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until cold and firm, about 3 hours.
  3. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°. Line four cups of a muffin tin with paper muffin liners, set aside.
  4. Melt the butter and chocolate chips together in a double boiler (or you can do this in a microwave safe container, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth). Remove from heat.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa or cacao powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, as well as the maple syrup, oil, and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Add in the egg and stir until just smooth.
  6. Fill the liners in the prepared muffin tin 2/3 full with the batter. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely, then frost.

Notes

Like lots of frosting? Double the recipe to get the frosting-to-cake ratio you see in the photos.

I like to err on the side of undercooked baked goods, so I pulled these out right at 12 minutes. They're a little gooey, but they set up when cooled.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 394Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 294mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 5gSugar: 36gProtein: 5g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

Leave a Reply

21 Responses
    1. Kendra

      For anyone who is needs to know, …according to my calculator, each cupcake has 373 calories, 52.4 carbs, 39.3 grams of sugar, 17.4 grams of fat, and almost 4 grams of fiber. They look amazing Cassie!!?

    2. Lisa Henderson

      According to Julie’s calculator, each cupcake has 255 calories, 11.7 g fat, 25.4 g sugars,, 38.3 g carbs, and 4.4. g fiber.

      I hope that they taste as good as they look, because these are awesome numbers!

  1. I’m absolutely in love wit this recipe! Date-sweetened chocolate frosting??? Soooo brilliant! Also digging the use of coconut oil and the fact that I won’t have 2 dozen cupcakes lingering around the house to tempt my every taste bud. Bravo, m’dear!!

  2. I was actually looking for a fun recipe to make for this weekend when my mom, sister and niece are up to celebrate my birthday. We need something dairy-free and these would be perfect, since we can all tolerate butter just fine (especially when it is only 2 tbsp.!). It would work to double it, right? We need 5, and I can count on my boyfriend to finish the other 3 with me =)

  3. Pauline

    Um how cute is this video? I honestly spaced that Valentine’s Day is coming up so soon and I 100% plan on making these + a homemade dinner now. Thank you for the video tutorial!

  4. As a self confessed binging baker, I constantly look for small batch recipes. Not only are these vegan it makes only four so I won’t be tempted to eat a whole dozen…. prevention is the best cure!

  5. Kimberly

    Thank so for taking one for the team to see if you can develop a vegan version! But in the meantime, I’m sticking with the idea that desserts are worth a “cheat”. Can’t wait to try these.

  6. Sarah D.

    This frosting is genius! I’m going to use this frosting recipe again and again! My cupcakes turned out pretty dry, but I loved that it only made a handful, so I’ll have to try them again (no chocolate chips in the U.K. so I used a chocolate bar and may have messed it up that way).

  7. Erika

    This is sinful! Who are you fooling with this small batch… I was melting the second portion of butter before I even finished frosting the first batch! ?

  8. cazalaz

    Totally annoyed I didnt read the lengthy narrative now… Cant believe ive just made a total of 4 cupcakes and have to do all over again!! urghhh who makes 4 cupcakes at a time!!

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