Cupcakes, Lightened Up

by in Meal Makeovers, April 14, 2009

They may come in pretty little packages, but cupcake calories can sure get ugly. Here are some lighter ways to enjoy these tasty pastries.

The Basics to Know
Some cupcakes come with almost 500 calories and more than 25 grams of fat — courtesy of the gobs of frosting and rich ingredients such as butter and eggs. Beware of cupcakes with fillings instead of frosting (it’s just frosting hidden on the inside), and go for smaller-sized cupcakes and lower-calorie versions of some of the other ingredients.

Cupcakes come portion controlled — as long as you eat just one, that is. If a recipe makes 12 large cupcakes, stretch it out to 16 smaller ones. I like to cut down the portion sizes even further but using mini muffins pans. These Mascarpone Mini Cupcakes with Strawberry Glaze have about 100 calories each. Serve mini cupcakes with a fresh fruit salad, and no one will miss those giant cupcakes.

Rethink Your Batter
Make a lighter cake batter by replacing some of the oil and butter with applesauce, apple butter, marmalade (like in this recipe) or yogurt (like in these vanilla and chocolate ones. Adding fruit or veggies — shredded carrots or zucchini — to your batter will add texture, keep the cake moist and up the nutrients.

Top It Off Right
Most frosting recipes contain tons of butter and cups of sugar. Cream cheese frosting (a favorite in my house) has all that butter and sugar plus more fat and calories from the cream cheese. One easy solution is switching to reduced-fat cream cheese. As a general rule, think less frosting and more fruit. Consider making half of the frosting in the recipe and embellishing the top of you cupcakes with fresh fruit –- finely diced strawberries or raspberries and kiwi makes a lightly frosted cupcakes look gorgeous!

[Photo: Redsie / Recipezaar]

TELL US: What’s your cupcake secret?

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Comments (16)

  1. Mindy Malone says:

    I always use applesauce & replace egg with Egg Beaters. No oil is ever used.

    • Katie says:

      I hate to be stupid, but I've never used egg beaters… What quantity of egg beaters do you use in place of each egg? So 1 egg = what quantity of egg beaters? Thanks for this tip!

  2. cara says:

    the yogurt vanilla cupcakes are amazing!

  3. Karen Bergmann says:

    What is the ratio to replacing the butter/oil in a recipe with applesauce or yogurt? Is the texture the same? Is there a noticeable difference in the taste? Can you do this with most or all cakes or sweets recipes?

  4. kattie says:

    The ratio is 1 to1 so if it calls for a cup of butter/oil…add 1cup applesauce. The think you will notice most is that the richness is gone…butter is delicious! However, the moistness is still there, and I normally add more vanilla or other flavors like nutmeg to makeup for the lack of butter flavor.

  5. Krikri says:

    I like cupcakes – they are easy to do and come in the right sizes for me. With your pictured cupcake, I may want to say the Good Housekeeping’s “Great Baking” recipe is just like mine but for only the orange marmalade.

  6. Jack Owens says:

    In your cake recipe for the vanilla yogurt cupcakes/choc. frosting you omitted the vanilla extract.

  7. peter says:

    I always use at least 1/2 apple sauce and 1/2 WW flour, but i had great luck using Handi Snacks No Sugar Pudding in a chocolate chip muffin recipe. They added flavor with minimal calories and took the place of oil, butter, apple sauce, yogurt, what have you. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ruined a batch of cookies using apple sauce, you really need butter with cookies.

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    hi your food is grat and i wish i coud teast it. One day i am going to make some food that you have made. You are the best cook i'v ever heard of . In a recrpie i'v seen looks grat and tasty . And i liked it were you put the vanillna extract. On the top of this post a comment to you on your intrnet you know that pictoure it looks rilly grat and i love it were you have put lots of lovloy little sequens that arnt real onnes but they are sweet and they fantastic,grat and it looks tasty. Because i love lots of sweets.

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