Helping families eat healthier for less

Helping families eat healthier for less

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes Filled with Goodness

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

Cupcakes are all the rage.

I confess, I don’t make cupcakes very often. In fact, I generally don’t make cakes and pies unless it’s a special occasion. So the challenge this month for Recipe Redux is to think cupcakes or individual desserts.

I decided to see if I could make a somewhat “healthier” cupcake. However, I wanted to start with the convenience of a package mix. I started with a package of dark chocolate fudge brownie mix. But, instead of 3 whole large eggs, I substituted 3/4 cup of silken tofu (1/4 cup for each egg). And, instead of 1/2 cup vegetable oil, I substituted 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce.  I also added 1 medium zucchini, shredded, to the uncooked batter. Lastly, I added ground cinnamon to the dry brownie mix as well as to the chocolate cream cheese frosting, as cinnamon is a great complement to chocolate.

Here is a comparison of the brownie mix prepared as directed on the package and my version (with tofu, applesauce,  zucchini, and cinnamon). You can see from the chart, that there is a significant savings in calories, total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

original brownie mix, prepared as directed w/ 1/2 cup oil and 3 large eggs
dark chocolate zucchini cupcakes (without frosting)
70 calories; 21% reduction
Total Fat
19 g
10 g
9 g; 47% reduction
Saturated Fat
4 g
2 g
2 g; 50% reduction
68 mg
29 mg
39 mg; 57% reduction

 These cupcakes are very dense and sponge-like; not like brownies that tend to be chewier and drier.


Here is the complete recipe, including a dark chocolate cream cheese frosting, which is optional.

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes



1 19.9 oz. package dark chocolate fudge brownie mix

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1-1/4 cups shredded zucchini (1 medium zucchini, about 7 inches long)

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

3/4 cup silken tofu

1/4 cup water


Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 oz. one-third less fat cream cheese, softened

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 cups unsifted powdered sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of muffin tins or use non-stick cooking spray.

Combine brownie mix and cinnamon in a large bowl; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine zucchini, applesauce, tofu, and water; mix to break up tofu into small pieces.  Gently stir zucchini mixture into the brownie mixture, stirring just to blend all ingredients.  Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes. Using a butter knife, lift cupcakes from pan. Let cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Frosting: combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Spread on cooled cupcakes.

Makes 14 cupcakes.

Note: Since most cupcake tins typically make 6 or 12 cupcakes, use greased small custard cups for remaining 2 cupcakes or refill cupcake tin after first batch comes from oven.

Nutrition Information per Cupcake (without frosting):

257 calories, 10 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 29 mg cholesterol, 0 g dietary fiber, 4 g protein, and 167 mg sodium.

Nutrition Information per Cupcake (with frosting):

365 calories, 14 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 38 mg cholesterol, 1 g dietary fiber, 5 g protein, and 199 mg sodium.

 Cost per Serving: $0.24 (without frosting); $0.41 (with frosting)

Pricing Note: all ingredients were at “regular” prices except the brownie mix which was on sale for $1.49.

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  1. Great minds think alike, I also used zucchini in my cupcakes :). I love how you used it to give brownie mix a healthy twist, genius!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Cheryl. Yes, I thought that starting with a brownie mix means less measuring and ingredients. I saw that you had a zucchini cupcake, too. Looks great!

  3. Wow - these look super duper chocolately! I'm saving this one and Cheryl's recipe for when the zucchini glut hits us come summertime :)

    1. Agreed. These cupcakes are a great way to use up garden zucchini.

  4. These look so moist and delicious and I love the addition of zucchini to the recipe! Cinnamon and chocolate together? Oh, yes!!!

    1. Chocolate and cinnamon is a favorite combination for me. Love it!

  5. I love that you doctor up a mix - it's so practical

    1. I try to keep recipe ingredients to a minimum. It saves times and often money.