Monday, February 20, 2012

We're gonna party 'cause it's your birthday....

Birthdays quickly follow the holidays around our house. As soon as I've taken the Christmas tree out of the house, we're planning birthday parties. Two years ago, I found a layout all about cupcakes in one of my favorite food magazines, "Eating Well." This publication, in case you haven't yet read it, develops recipes that emphasize flavor, fresh ingredients and preparations that suit a healthier lifestyle. In other words, you can have your cupcake and eat it too. 

For this particular party, we made the Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes, the Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting, and the Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes. All are worthy additions to your baking repertoire. These taste real and frankly, they burst with flavor. I'm not going to win any fans at the bakery department of our local grocery store, but these are cupcakes you want to eat. Theirs, not so much. 



Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 3 Hours, including time for cooling and chilling


  • 2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen (thawed and drained), plus 12 fresh berries for garnish (about 12 ounces total)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (see Note)
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk (see Tip)


  • 8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufch√Ętel), at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest


  1. To prepare cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Puree 2 cups raspberries and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing with a rubber spatula to extract all the puree; discard seeds. Reserve 4 teaspoons of the puree for the frosting. Save the puree with the seeds for a smoothie or add to a batch of pancakes!
  3. Whisk whole-wheat flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Beat 3/4 cup granulated sugar and oil in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat in eggs, vanilla and 1 teaspoon lemon zest until well combined. With the mixer on low, alternately mix in the dry ingredients and buttermilk, starting and ending with dry ingredients and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined.
  5. Fill the prepared cups half full of batter. Place a scant tablespoon of raspberry puree on each cup (you may have some left over). Divide the remaining batter evenly among the cups. Use a wooden skewer or toothpick to swirl and fold the puree into the batter.
  6. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 22 to 24 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  7. To prepare frosting: Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and the reserved 4 teaspoons raspberry puree with an electric mixer until smooth. Refrigerate the frosting until very cold, at least 2 hours. Spread the frosting on the cooled cupcakes and decorate with a raspberry on top, if desired.

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the frosting (Step 7) for up to 3 days. Store cooled cupcakes airtight at room temperature for up to 1 day.
  • Ingredient Note: Look for whole-wheat pastry flour in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets and natural-foods stores. Store in the freezer.
  • Tip: No buttermilk? You can make “sour milk” as a substitute: mix 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar to 1/2 cup nonfat milk, or use the powdered buttermilk available in the dried milk section of the grocery store. 

Birthday Boy #2 chose the chocolate frosted vanilla cupcake

Pureeing the raspberries

Filled the cupcakes with raspberry puree; almost ready to bake!

Chocolate frosting using flour as the base

Raspberry, chocolate and cream cheese frostings

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

On the way to the party!

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