Monday, February 25, 2013

Road testing healthy chocolate cupcake recipe

I was so excited to come across all the recipes on The Healthy Chef and couldn't wait to try some out. But when I actually went shopping for the ingredients, I realised how expensive this venture could be. Most of the cakes call for almond meal, which in the required quantity was far too much money. The chocolate cupcakes Im testing below would have cost about $12 just for the almond meal alone. The website names coconut flour as an alternative to almond meal for those with nut allergies, but I'm not sure you can even get that in my little town, and I can't imagine it being much cheaper.

So I decided to experiment with some substitutions of my own. I already had LSA at home, which is ground linseed (flaxseed), almond meal and sunflower seeds. Since that already contains almond meal, and I had read about using flaxseed, I thought I'd give it a go.

There were two recipes I wanted to try - a chocolate cupcake and a lemon cupcake - but I thought I'd go with the chocolate first as it looked harder to stuff up.

The recipe for these chocolate cupcakes is here on The Healthy Chef.

My changes:
- I substituted equal measure of LSA for the almond meal.
- I also added an extra tablespoon of honey, after I tasted the mixture and thought it was a bit too lacking in sweetness.
- I was using vanilla essence, not extract or paste, so I added a fair bit of that since essence is not as strong.
- I used unsweetened almond milk.
- I used regular Cadbury cocoa powder.
- I used olive oil - basically because that's what I had.

The mix looked chocolatey... But if you gave a spoonful of this to a child they'd probably make a face...

The mix was a funny, airy, puffy consistency, not smooth like if you were making regular chocolate cupcakes. I think it's because of the flaxseed soaking up moisture and going gluggy. Because of that I wouldn't leave the mixture sitting too long before baking. But even with having to go settle a crying baby twice during this process it was fine, so it's not a big deal.

They took exactly 25 minutes as the recipe said. They definitely smelled like chocolate in the oven.

The downsides?
If you tell someone you're giving them a chocolate cupcake and give them this without warning, they'll probably throw it at you yelling 'liar!'

Ok, maybe not that extreme, but these are definitely not sweet. It's like the difference between really dark chocolate and milk chocolate. If you're used to dark chocolate, or prepare yourself for it, you should like these.

If your new in your sugar free healthy eating journey, then you may struggle to acclimatise your taste buds at first. I would recommend eating them with some puréed or smashed up berries on top to give some sweetness. I think they'd be really yummy like that.

The Upsides?
They are quick and easy.

These are actually healthy - the protein and good fats from the nuts and linseed, and the absence of refined flours and sugars mean that the nutritional values justify the calories. And if you use good quality dark cocoa or raw cacao then you are getting a whack of antioxidants as well.

So if you can retrain your taste buds, then this is a chocolatey fix you can enjoy and know you're not harming your health - in fact our doing yourself some good. (As long as your not eating the whole lot at once obviously.) They are also more substantial - you feel like you've eaten something.

And these are also gluten and lactose free.

Bottom line: Success!!
So you can use LSA in place of almond meal for these cupcakes. They cooked well and have a nice moist consistency.

They aren't super sweet, but you can't expect a healthy sugar free cupcake to be just like a sugar, white flour version. And the point is to retrain your taste buds anyway.

Serving suggestion: Eat warm with smashed berries over the top.

If you try these or any other recipes, please share!
Happy healthy baking.

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