Healthy Almond Cupcakes with Pomegranate Frosting

Cupcakes. They seem to have hit America by storm over the past few years. They are cute, small, and indicative of a special occasion. Today, for instance, was my last final test and last day of class for all my general education classes! Cupcakes were in order to welcome in summer break. Pastry chefs and innovative home cooks have been spewing out flavor combination by the hundreds, from traditionals like vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing, to more unique pairings, sometimes involving bacon. Most of the time, however, the cupcakes are overly sweet with so much sugar and butter its hardly worth the momentary enjoyment of those first few bites.

So, I decided I wanted to make a batch of cupcakes that had a uniquely scrumptious flavor without all those ingredients that makes your body wish you hadn’t scarfed that giant Sprinkles cupcakes in 5 seconds flat. The first and more obvious changes I made were to add some whole-wheat goodness (I finally found some King Arthur White Whole-Wheat flour at my grocery store! Score!) and reduce the fat by adding some apple sauce. Next came the goal of reducing the sugar which I think I successfully achieved by adding a healthy splash of both vanilla and almond extracts, creating both a sweet aroma and taste. Lastly, I needed a frosting that didn’t call for pounds of butter and full-fat cream cheese but also didn’t compromise taste. Taking a cue from Ellie Krieger’s recipe for healthier cupcakes, I used Neufchatel cream cheese, a lot less sugar, and pomegranate molasses for both added tangy-ness and color. No food coloring here.

I was pleased with the results of my healthy cupcake recipe experiment, hopefully you will be too if you try these!

Recipe Rundown
Taste: Although this recipe doesn’t require much sugar, the almond and vanilla extracts sweeten the cupcake itself while the frosting adds a nice tangy touch.
Texture: The cupcakes are moist and tender, you would never know they were made using whole-wheat flour and applesauce.
Ease: Every step of this recipe is easy, although it does require quite a few. I love having a batch of pomegranate molasses in the fridge, it can be used to all sorts of recipes (lamb, pork, chicken, salad dressing, baked goods).
Appearance: Cupcakes are always cute, especially when they have a subtle pink-purple frosting.
Expense: The most expensive thing would probably be the POM juice to make the molasses, which is still less than $5.
Pros: I love that these cupcakes are not only cute and delicious with a sweet tangy-ness, but they are healthy due to the lowered fat, whole wheat flour, and POM molasses (hello, antioxidants!).
Cons: There are a few steps involved, but I think they’re well worth it.
Would I make this again? For sure.


Healthy Almond Cupcakes with Pomegranate Frosting

Yield: 10 cupcakes  
Recipe by Tessa

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour (King Arthur)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 10 muffin cups with liners.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a stand mixer or with a hand held electric mixer and a large bowl, beat together the sugar, butter, vanilla, and almond of high speech for about 2 minutes, or until well mixed.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Now add the flour mixture alternately with the applesauce, beating after each addition until just combined, scraping down the sides as needed.

5. Pour batter into prepared muffin tin until each cup is 3/4 full and place in oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick poked into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean. Let cool completely on rack before frosting.

Pomegranate Frosting

  • 3 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (recipe below)

Beat the cream cheese and sugar with an electric hand mixer until well mixed and fluffy. Add the pomegranate molasses in and beat until incorporated. Using a small offset spatula, ice the cupcakes. Icing will be somewhat runny initially. Once the iced cupcakes are stored in the refrigerator it should set.

Pomegranate Molasses

  • 2 cups POM Wonderful pomegranate juice
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • splash of fresh lemon juice

1. Combine ingredients in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer for about 40-50 minutes until the mixture has a thick consistency. Let cool, the use or store in the refrigerator.

Get my *Favorite Desserts* e-cookbook for free!

Don't miss a recipe! Sign up to get new posts delivered via email and receive a FREE E-COOKBOOK!

13 Responses to “Healthy Almond Cupcakes with Pomegranate Frosting”

  1. #
    1
    veggie wedgie — May 13, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I love the color of your frosting!

  2. #
    2
    Mary — May 13, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    I don't know that I've yet to have a healthy cupcake but these sound so delicious I think I just may have to try them!

    xxMK

    http://delightfulbitefuls.blogspot.com/

  3. #
    3
    Maria — May 17, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I love the POM frosting. So delicious and super cute too!

  4. #
    4
    marla {family fresh cooking} — May 17, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I love whole wheat flour and applesauce in my baked goods. The pomegranate frosting is such a great idea.

  5. #
    5
    baby cribs — May 18, 2010 at 7:45 am

    I love the flavor of the frosting and also the color, too! I can't wait to try this one.

  6. #
    6
    Patty — May 18, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Lovely cupcakes Tessa! I always prefer beautifully and naturally flavoured baked goods with just enough fat and just enough sugar. (I agree, sugar spikes and crashes ultimately feed bad so they aren't really a treat!) Delicious flavor combination – pretty too. I love the pomegranate icing – great for the many who are allergic to food colouring. Congrats on finishing school!

  7. #
    7
    Anonymous — October 28, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Tessa,

    Thank you! These were the best cupcakes I have ever tasted! My dad is teaching a health class and asked me to make healthy cupcakes to celebrate a birthday. I wanted to pull my hair out searching for a cupcake that was healthy and looked remotely good. Then I found your website. Because there are diabetics in the class, I substituted the sugar for Ideal (smaller amounts) and replaced the butter with olive oil. I could never go back. My mom called these the Mona Lisa of cupcakes, truly perfect. And the icing, it was delish. I was craving a pomegranate desert and this hit the spot. From start to finish, your cupcakes were wonderful. Many people asked for the recipe so I will be sure to tell them about your website when I give it to them.

    Thanks again.
    Nicole

  8. #
    8
    Me — January 8, 2011 at 7:14 am

    As I say on the feature I wrote which includes your fantastic cupcake above, you have me when you say health, but these look amazing too!! I will have to try them!

    http://partycupcakeideas.com/five-almond-cupcakes/

  9. #
    9
    Kerstyn — June 9, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    I made these yesterday, they're DELICIOUS! Thanks so much for the recipe! Out of curiosity, any idea what the calorie count for one of these babies might be?

  10. #
    10
    Tessa — June 10, 2011 at 4:19 am

    Kerstyn – I don't usually pay attention or post calorie information. But if you really want to find out here is a link to calculate – http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/recipe_analysis.php?process=resubmit&count=4

    Hope that helps! Glad you liked the recipe :)

  11. #
    11
    134994c6-ed37-11e0-b49e-000f20980440 — October 2, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    These were great, the Pomegranate molasses didn't really work for me, I think it got too hot and burned because it made a nice mocha colored frosting, so I made a simple blueberry puree with sugar and mixed that into the frosting to taste and topped the cupcakes with a fresh blueberry. Super cute! PS You mentioned blending the wet ingredients with vanilla, but it isn't listed in the ingredient list? I added a little for the fun of it. Thanks for the great recipe!

  12. #
    12
    The Higley Kitchen — November 11, 2012 at 7:34 am

    The frosting sounds amazing. :)

  13. #
    13
    Smithf271 — March 28, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Very nice! dbffckkcga

Leave a Comment