These healthy chocolate cupcakes get a soft, moist texture from their not-so-secret ingredient: beets. The beets act as a natural red food dye, plus they bump up the fiber. Use red beets to give the cream cheese frosting a vibrant pink hue.
- 2 cups diced peeled beets (1/2-inch; about 2 medium)
- ⅔ cup buttermilk
- 1 ½ cups white whole-wheat flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup canola oil or grapeseed oil
- 1 ¾ cups packed confectioners’ sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups with paper liners.
Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add beets, cover and steam until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a blender. Add buttermilk and puree until smooth. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the beet puree. Pour the rest into a large bowl.
Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk egg, oil, 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and vanilla into the beet puree in the large bowl. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
To prepare frosting: Combine the remaining 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and cream cheese with the reserved beet puree in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Top each cooled cupcake with a generous 1 tablespoon frosting.
Make Ahead Tip: Store unfrosted cupcakes at room temperature for up to 1 day; refrigerate frosting for up to 1 day.
Equipment: Muffin tin with 12 (1/2-cup) cups; paper liners
Gluten-free Variation: Swap a cup-for-cup gluten-free flour blend for the white whole-wheat flour and use gluten-free vanilla extract.
DIY Muffin Cups: Make your next batch of muffins or cupcakes the ultimate grab-and-go treat by lining your tin with muffin liners. No liners? No problem. Use 5-inch squares of parchment paper, coat each muffin cup with cooking spray, and push each square into the cups using a small can or bottle, pressing the paper up the sides. (It’s OK if some of the paper is sticking out over the rim.) Fill each cup as directed.