Home / Comfort Food / Chocolate and Cocoa / Best Chocolate Cupcakes EVER! (made with quinoa!?!): A Tasty and Healthy New Year
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Published on 17 January, 2012, by

Best choco-cupcakes in Bella Cupcake Couture Wrappers (Meisha Bird & Blossom)

Now, you’re probably thinking, “OK, GF, now that’s a mighty big claim you’re making — BEST. . .EVER? and did you say, with QUINOA!??!”

Yes, I did and BTW, did I tell you it’s flourless and gluten-free?

No, I will not back down from my claim.

These cupcakes are so rock your socks delish that I cannot see me making a traditional chocolate cupcake ever again.

Yes, you read that right.

Yes, I put these on a pedestal –one by Sarah’s Stands http://sarahsstands.com/

The Search for the Best Chocolate Cupcake

For years, I have been looking for the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe and though I have found some great cakes along the way, none even comes close to this one.  That’s because I am SUPER and I mean, SUPER picky about chocolate cupcakes. It can’t just be chocolate and sweet. And frosting — I hate traditional buttercream– too sweet and heavy for my tastes and it overwhelms the kind of cake I prefer.

When it comes to chocolate cake, I need depth of flavor in my chocolate– midnight black, preferably. I want to taste the night sky that the cacao pods grew under in each dark mouthful. But that density cannot come at the expense of the cake’s crumb or moisture. I would rather not have cake than eat a dry piece, trying to choke it down with lots of milk. I have ditched many a cupcake over this issue.

Naked cupcakes — In food porn, this is the money shot (Bella Cupcake Couture’s Lu Lu Damask)

My Chocolate Cupcake Criteria:

  • Deep, dark chocolate flavor (night sky, remember?)
  • Delicate crumb but not crumbly
  • Moist, but durable enough to frost and carry without a crumby trail following you
  • The frosting must be rich in flavor and mouth-feel without being greasy, heavy or over-sugared

I told you I had high standards. ;) 

Which is why, when I tell you this is IT — you’d better believe me.

Grab your notebook and jot this recipe down or turn on your printer and print it out. . . NOW!

I’ll wait.  I am not joking. I wouldn’t joke about a thing like this. I take it –much– too– serious.

Cocoa, quinoa and sugar– the new cupcake trinity

A Happy Accident

I fell into this recipe, sort of by blissful accident. As you may know, me, and the 12 other VP bloggers, are spending the month using Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch products in recipes for the Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge. At the same time, most of us have also pledged to Build a Better Me (our own year-long effort to get healthier in 2012) — for my part, I decided to go gluten-free for a while. (Which was fine,because my recipes containing flour for BRM/COR promo had been completed in December, before I went gluten-free.)

Except . . . in a twist of fate, 30AEats blogger, Susan, found herself out of town (and away from her BRM products) when she needed to post last week. She ran out to procure her ingredients for last week’s challenge, except she couldn’t find the Grande Grains that were scheduled. Being resourceful, Susan opted for this week’s grain, Quinoa (read all about her adventures here) and as luck would have it, unbeknowst to Susan,  decided to make the same dish, I was going to share with you this week — Quinoa Tabouleh.

I had to start from scratch, again. I wanted to do something out of the box, something that maybe none of my other blogger friends would be doing. I thought– dessert! But the obvious choice (a grain pudding) I just did last week.

Quinoa batter before dry ingredients

Meanwhile, being gluten-free for going on three weeks was beginning to take its toll– I craved cake, cookies, bread and pasta. I knew there were gluten-free cakes made with quinoa flour and thought maybe I could make the flour myself from the dry quinoa.

I began to search for gluten-free recipes online, typing in “gluten-free cakes” and “quinoa flour cakes.” There were a lot of ingredients in these recipes and a variety of match-ups of different kinds of gluten-free flours — I couldn’t decide.

But then, I accidentally forgot to type in “flour” on my next search. I just typed “quinoa cake,” and found myself staring face to face with, what looked in pictures, to be the richest, moistest, chocolatey-ist cake I’d ever seen.

I read the post on babble.com, it said it was delicious. But, you never really know about these things. I read the comments, people were extolling the virtues of this cake– still, I wasn’t sure. There wasn’t a morsel of flour in this recipe. Just whole grain, fully-cooked quinoa and the other usual suspects– cocoa, eggs, butter, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla. Really? REALLY??

Now, I’ve been a fan of quinoa for years but as a replacement for rice or cous cous — never in baking. I was intrigued. Would it work as cupcakes? Or would they dry out too much? Would it be chalky, gritty or flavorless. Would there be a lingering bitter bite?

What the heck, I thought, I decided to dive in.

After the dry ingredients

I admit, I tweaked the recipe, just a smidge along the way, substituting some of the butter for California Olive Ranch’s Everyday Fresh Olive Oil to bring a few extra flavor notes and some heart healthy goodness to the recipe. I also whipped up a frosting (after tasting how great the cake was) that would complement the cake, but not overwhelm it.

The results were amazing! Thank goodness (like Bob Ross used to say) for happy little accidents.

If Susan had not forgotten her grains, if we had not decided to make the same dish — I may NEVER have found the world’s most perfect chocolate cupcake, which means, I woudn’t be passing it along to you. (Thank you Susan!)

Into the oven

I KNOW you want to kill me now — “Where’s the damn recipe!!” you’re shouting.

OK, OK pipe down — here it is.

But when you taste this and you inevitably swoon with delight, remember who brought it to you and think of me kindly from time to time –the girl with the perfect cupcake.

Best Chocolate Cupcakes Ever w/Honey-Cocoa Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming

The frosting is entirely my own creation and something I just whipped up out of thin air, tasting as I went until the desired consistency and flavor was reached. It is very much like a fluffy, light, chocolate mousse — rich, chocolatey with a touch of honey-kissed sweetness. It glides on smoothly and floating on top of the moist, light but deeply flavored chocolate cakes.

Cupcake Batter

  • 2/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quinoa
  • 1 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup soymilk (you can use dairy or sub other milks if you like)
  • 4 large organic brown eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup California Olive Ranch Everyday Fresh Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Rinse and prepare the quinoa according to directions using the water measurements above. Once the quinoa is done, turn off the heat and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool. (Do not rush this.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of the cups of two 1 dozen non-stick cupcake pans (no flour) or use cupcake wrappers.

Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups of cooled, cooked quinoa and blend until smooth. Add the oil and melted butter and blend to incorporate.

In the meantime, mix together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in your mixer bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well. scoop the batter with an ice cream scoop into the cupcake pans and bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until the cake bounces back when lightly pressed.

Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan before serving. Frost if desired (these are delicious without frosting as well.)

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Frosting

4oz cream room temp cheese

1/2 cup room temp butter

1/4 cup honey

1tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup cocoa

1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar (depending on desired consistency)

1tBsp almond milk

Cream butter and cream cheese together in a mixing bowl, slowly adding your honey as you continue to mix. Then add carefully add the cocoa and powdered sugar, bit by bit, alternating between the two. Add vanilla and almond milk until desired consistency is achieved. I like mine light, fluffy and mousse-like. If you like yours a bit more stiff add more powdered sugar or cocoa to firm it up a bit.

Frost cupcakes when cooled.

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

Frosted Per Serving — Calories: 234, Dietary Fiber: 3.2g, Sugars: 15.3g, Protein: 4.5g
Un-Frosted Per Serving — Calories: 158, Dietary Fiber: 2.0g, Sugars: 8.4g, Protein: 3.7g

Trust me, 3 year olds are picky and he LOVES ‘em!

A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge Giveaway

Each week, the VP bloggers will challenge you to find (and use) the secret code word of the week, posted in the contest tab labeled “Virtual Potluck” on the California Olive Ranch Facebook page.

Each blogger will pick a single winner per week to receive a pack of the featured products from Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch.

That’s right- four weeks, 12 winners each week! That’s like 48 chances to win! The more blogs you visit the more chances you have to win~ so what are you waiting for?! Let’s get cooking (and eating!) A Tasty and Healthy New Year!

For more information on how you can win– visit the host page for links to the other sites!

 

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