Chocolate Cupcakes Get a Healthy Makeover: A Recipe for Berry Good Chocolate Cupcakes (Podcast #134)

To celebrate Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month, we decided to give chocolate cupcakes a healthy makeover. We share this recipe for Berry Good Chocolate Cupcakes and some interesting health factoids about chocolate on episode #134 of our Cooking with the Moms podcast.

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Don’t get us wrong. We adore chocolate (especially dark chocolate), and we love nothing more than treating our kids to gooey, chocolaty goodies on Valentine’s Day. But what we don’t love are the saturated fat and calories found in most cupcakes. No disrespect to Martha, but when we crunched the nutrition numbers on one of her frosted chocolate cupcake recipes, we found that each cupcake had 500 calories, 16 grams of saturated fat, and over 14 teaspoons of added sugar (thanks, in part, to the three sticks of butter and four cups of sugar in the recipe). Even if Martha made mini cupcakes like we did, the numbers would still be pretty high.

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Berry Good Chocolate Cupcakes via #cupcakes #valentinesday #healthy #dessert #blueberries

If you volunteered to bring in a special treat for your child’s school Valentine’s party, consider our Berry Good Chocolate Cupcakes!

To health-ify our new cupcake recipe without losing the sweet, decadent, melt-in-your-mouth quality associated with cupcakes, we used some Meal Makeover Mom magic. We can’t take full credit for the makeover. Our kitchen assistants for this recipe project (and trust us, it was a bit of a project to get it right!) were our two fabulous Boston University nutrition interns, Ashley and Cristine.

Meal Makeover Magic:
> Stick with the usual all-purpose white flour, but replace some of it with whole wheat.
> Switch from butter in the batter to canola oil and butter in the frosting to a healthier soft spread (did you know that of all the popular cooking oils, canola is the lowest in saturated fat and a good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fat?).
> Keep the sugar to a respectable 3/4 cup (we initially used 1 cup but felt the cupcakes were actually too sweet).
> Add blueberries! They blend right in, and this super fruit adds natural sweetness as well as a burst of antioxidants.
> Reduce the portion size from one large cupcake to one mini cupcake, and use just a schmear of frosting.

Watch Liz bake up our cupcakes on her YouTube channel.

Berry Good Chocolate Cupcakes via #cupcakes #valentinesday #healthy #dessert #blueberries

When Liz gave her 12-year old son, Simon, five tries to “guess the secret ingredient in our cupcakes,” he answered, “tomatoes, avocados, potatoes, mushrooms, and kiwi fruit,” but never picked up the sweet, subtle flavor of the blueberries!

Berry Good Chocolate Cupcakes via #cupcakes #valentinesday #healthy #dessert #blueberries

All it takes is a small amount of frosting to make our cupcakes extra special. In other words, to be a great cupcake, you don’t need to see your teeth marks in the frosting.

Berry Good Chocolate Cupcakes via #cupcakes #valentinesday #healthy #dessert #blueberries

The mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and the blueberry bits provide a kid-pleasing flavor combo.


Makes 24 Mini Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs (we like Eggland’s Best)
  • 3/4 cup frozen wild blueberries, thawed (but not drained)
  • 1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the Frosting …

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons buttery “spread” (we used Smart Balance Buttery Spread with Flax)
  • 2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat 24 mini muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Place the sugar and oil in a large bowl and beat at medium speed  until well blended, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, blueberries (and their juice), milk, and vanilla extract, and continue to beat on medium until the blueberries are broken up a bit and well incorporated, 1 more minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. At low speed, gradually beat the flour mixture into the liquid mixture until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and cool completely before frosting. (Note: Depending on the size of your muffin cups, you may have some batter left over. Feel free to bake up a second small batch of cupcakes with any leftover batter).

5. To make the frosting, place the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, buttery spread, milk, and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat at low speed until blended. Raise the speed to medium once the sugar is incorporated and continue to beat until creamy. Spread the frosting over the cupcakes, and garnish as desired with a red candy or conversation heart. * If you use a 12-cup muffin tin, you’ll want to bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 frosted cupcake): 140 calories, 7g fat (1g saturated, 4g monounsaturated, 0.5g omega-3), 65mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 13g sugar, 2g protein

Print Recipe

Berry Good Chocolate Cupcakes via #cupcakes #valentinesday #healthy #dessert #blueberries

There’s been lots in the news over the past few years touting the heart-health benefits of chocolate. That’s because chocolate contains flavonoids … an antioxidant also found in green tea, red wine, nuts, and many fruits. In addition, the type of fat found in chocolate comes from oleic acid (a type of good-for-you monounsaturated fat), and two saturated fats, stearic and palmitic acids. Research shows that stearic acid has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol levels. The bottom line for us is that it’s okay to eat a small amount of dark chocolate (which typically has more flavanols than milk chocolate) every now and then (or every day!) along with an array of other health-enhancing foods.

10 responses to “Chocolate Cupcakes Get a Healthy Makeover: A Recipe for Berry Good Chocolate Cupcakes (Podcast #134)”

  1. I love the secret ingredient! Anytime I can sneak goodies into treats i’m all over it. Thanks for sharing your cute cupcakes 🙂

  2. Leah Smith says:

    Hi Liz and Janice,

    Tried your cute cupcakes tonight. Of course the kids loved them, and mommy too. I think I could even add a little bit more blueberry next time and maybe reduce the cocoa a little. Hubby says, “too rich”. I will make again, thanks! Can’t wait to share with some Valentines! Oh, and I will do a blog post tomorrow on this recipe!

  3. Rose Forever says:

    Your cupcakes looks so cute and this will be perfect for my son’s 5th birthday party. I will surely make this on my menu list for his celebration. Thanks for sharing your yummy cupcakes.

  4. That is so amazing and so wonderful! I love dark chocolates too. I better buy all of the ingredients tomorrow to be ready for my valentines date with my special someone.

  5. Leah says:

    Ladies, just listened to your podcast. You were making this dietitian laugh!

    Liz, it is okay about the recipe quanitity for cupcakes. People are adaptable. I had enough batter for 24 minis and 5 regular sized cupcakes, which my husband prefers anyway! (I did not fill up to the top of the mini cupcakes though – guess I did not read your recipe all the way through!)

    Also, a tiny red, artificial colored candy on top…expecially for Valentines, is ok…don’t sweat it!

    Oh, my kids had one regular sized cupcake last night after dinner and they did not finish it. Said it was too rich, I think they heard Daddy say that though! So, the mini size would of been better for them. Do you have any suggestions for those saying this cupcake is too rich? Leave off the frosting? Reduce the cocoa powder?

    Thanks 🙂


    • Liz says:

      Leah, what if you cut back on the sugar a bit. Perhaps to 2/3 cup? You could also use less frosting. A tall glass of low-fat milk would also be nice!

  6. Beth says:

    Just finished making these cupcakes. I was slightly skeptical of the blueberries, but these turned out great! Chocolatey, fluffy, moist and perfectly sweet. I made a modification to mine,–I used store bought cream cheese frosting and added red sprinkles on top for festive Valentine’s Day cupcakes.

    Definitely will make these again!

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Nicole says:

    I made these as a special snack for my son’s preschool class and they turned out great. I slimmed them down even more (mostly to fit in with MY weight watchers plan) by using fat free egg substitute and applesauce instead of the oil. They turned out great!

  8. Sally Portera says:

    Made these tonight and all my picky eaters nibbled them up. Skipped the icing for a sweet treat that did not get all over the 2 year old. Thanks!

  9. Rebecca says:

    These are very, very good! Thanks for posting the recipe. I used coconut oil in place of canola (please don’t take offense, but I respectfully disagree with anyone who claims that canola oil is the healthiest oil out there), and I used unsweetened almond milk.

    They were really, really good and disappeared quickly. This is a keeper!

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