Though cupcakes are by definition a portion-controlled dessert, don't let their diminutive size fool you.
It's not unusual for a cupcake recipe to include a cup or more of butter -- and that's before you even start making the frosting. With a couple of tweaks, however, you can make a cupcake that's a bit lighter and better for your body.
For starters, ditch the butter in favor of canola oil, which has far less saturated fat and contains healthier monounsaturated fats.
In many cases, you also can cut the total amount of fat by replacing as much as half of it with fruit butters and purees, such as applesauce or apple butter. These work well because they contain lots of pectin, which like fat helps to keep baked goods tender.
By replacing half of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour, you can give cupcakes a healthful boost of fiber and other nutrients, without compromising taste and texture.
Whole-wheat pastry flour (rather than bread or all-purpose) is preferable in cakes and pastries because it has less protein, which tends to make baked goods tougher and chewier.
This orange-buttermilk cupcake recipe uses whole-wheat pastry flour and contains only q cup of canola oil for the entire batch of 18 cupcakes. Frozen orange juice concentrate does triple duty by adding moisture along with natural sweetness and an intense citrus flavor.
The frosting for the cupcakes is made with reduced-fat cream cheese, but to cut fat and calories even more you can make a glaze by whisking together 2 tablespoons of orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest and 11/4 to 11/2 cups of powdered sugar. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cupcakes just before serving.
ORANGE-BUTTERMILK CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Start to finish: 11/2 hours (40 minutes active)
Makes 18 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting:
8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
Set the oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 muffin tins with cupcake liners.
To make the cupcakes, in a medium bowl whisk together both flours, the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another medium bowl, combine the granulated sugar, buttermilk, orange juice concentrate, oil and eggs. Whisk thoroughly until the orange juice concentrate is dissolved.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold just until blended. Divide the batter among the 18 cups (each cupcake should be about half full). Bake until the tops spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes.
Cool the pans on a rack until the cupcakes are cool enough to handle. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool completely on a rack before frosting, about 40 minutes.
To make the frosting, in a medium bowl combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and orange juice concentrate. Use an electric mixer to beat until smooth and creamy.