Monday, November 1, 2010


I am not a fan of low-fat. I rarely believe or agree with claims that low-fat alternatives taste as good as their original version, and I am a much bigger proponent of moderation than modification. Besides, while low-fat versions (especially of baked goods) often have other nutritious ingredients added, they also frequently end up having more sugar, more carbs, and sometimes even more calories all at the expense of a few grams of satisfying and fulfilling fat. So it was with skepticism that I read Eve Turrow's article in NPR's Kitchen Window about "healthier cupcakes."

Yet as I read the recipes, I became intrigued. Not so much for the healthful promises, but because some of the recipes seemed so truly bizarre that I was curious to try them just to experience the results. I had little hope that any of these "cupcakes" would turn out to be a dessert I would ever serve to guests, or even that they would turn out to deserve a classifaction of "dessert." I did, however, trust that they would be enjoyable. I had in mind something like a muffin rather than a cupcake or dessert.

The version that sounds most interesting and most unlike anything I've done before are the Orange Cardamom ones. However, I didn't have any oranges, and I had some bananas on the brown-side, so I decided to try those. The author, Eve, says she has adapted this low-fat banana cupcake recipe from the Low-Fat Banana Bread recipe which appeared in Bon Appetit in August, 1997. To see just how much "adaptation" actually went on, I compared the two side-by-side, and decided to make some of my own "adaptations" as well. Below is the exact version I made, and cupcakes they are! While I would certainly eat these in place of a muffin for breakfast, I needn't worry that they fail to stand up as a cupcake.

An additional aside is that cupcakes frequently come across as dry, which I attribute to their ratio of surface area (compared to a cake that is sliced into servings.) So much of a cupcake is touching the pan that gives it an opportunity to - if not dry out exactly - develop a crust. These managed to stay completely moist and flavorful in every bite.

Healthier Banana Cupcakes
makes 18

3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Splendar granular
3 medium bananas, mashed
1/3 cup lowfat buttermilk
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons light rum

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour (or whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend together eggs and sugars. Stir in remaining liquid ingredients and mix well. Blend together dry ingredients, then mix into wet ingredients just until combined. Pour batter into greased cupcake pan, or use paper cupcake liners, filling to 1/4" from top. Bake at 325 for 18-20 minutes, until tester comes out clean.

I ate these plain first, but for authentic cupcakes, frost with your favorite cream cheese or chocolate frosting (healthful, or unhealthful versions!)

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