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Small Batch Healthier Chocolate Cupcakes

Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes

Recipe At-A-Glance

Small Batch

3 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.

Small Batch Healthier Chocolate Cupcakes

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.

Small Batch Healthier Chocolate Cupcakes

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

  • Author: Cassie Johnston
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cupcakes 1x


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



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


  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.


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.


Cassie Johnston

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.

Latest posts by Cassie Johnston (see all)

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21 thoughts on “Small Batch Healthier Chocolate Cupcakes

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  • Jennifer SAYS

    Nutritional facts please and thank you

  • Faith SAYS

    These look amazing!!! Do you know how almond flour or coconut flour might work in place of the white whole wheat flour?

  • seriously, these look amazing! and I don’t even like chocolate.

  • 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!!

  • karina SAYS

    I am confused as to why the prep time is 3 hours… Am I missing a step? :S

  • 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 =)

  • Pauline SAYS

    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!

  • Lisa Broadley SAYS

    I just watched the video…Amazing!! Cupcakes look yummy too..Can you taste the dates? …don’t like them.

  • Rosie SAYS

    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!

  • alyssa SAYS

    Oh this is so perfect! I’m all about the natural sweeteners and the small batch sizes. Thank you so much!

  • Kimberly SAYS

    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.

  • Melissa SAYS

    OMG! These look amazing! I can actually taste these from just looking at them. Maybe I’m just really hungry! Baby life makes you longing stare at recipes and food photos while holding a baby, wondering if you will ever eat hahaha.

  • Sarah D. SAYS

    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).

  • Erika SAYS

    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! ?

    • Julie @ Wholefully SAYS

      Haha! At least it slows down the cupcake eating if you have to take the time to make another batch? ;)

  • contomlon SAYS

    I just watched the video…Amazing!! Cupcakes look yummy too..Can you taste the dates? …don’t like them.

  • cazalaz SAYS

    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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