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Light Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Lime frosting

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

Prep: 20 min // Bake: 30 min

We might look different, but we are made of the same ingredients. And in combination, we thrive.

chocolate cupcake photography

Weird times. Pandemic lockdown, economic turmoil, racist attacks, demonstrations and political unrest. Not looking good, but united we always thrive. Like these black & white cupcakes, something I wanted to do from the first day I heard the sad news about George Floyd. I can't protest out on the streets right now, but I can bake in my isolation so this is my kind of support to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and a lesson I will teach my son as he will soon start to integrate into our diverse society.

chocolate cupcakes recipe

Every bite is a winner here, from taste to moisture to caloric intake. Beautifully blending the best of black and white, chocolate and vanilla flavours and gooey, creamy and tangy frosting. As usual, my recipe comes heavily tweaked to reduce the caloric, sugar and (this time also) cholesterol intake. The result is a light but still flavoursome and fluffy cake. Using molasses raw sugar instead of caster sugar is something I have been working on for quite some time now (I’m still on the learning curve) not necessarily because raw sugar is lower in calories or best for kids -it’s not- but mainly because it is unrefined/unprocessed and gives my cakes a dimension with its distinct caramel-like flavour.

To cut the long story short, reducing the amount of sugar to almost half compared to classic chocolate muffin recipes and topping it up with a little agave nectar, vanilla essence (which is also sweet) and dark chocolate chips didn't compensate the sweetness to a significant level and made these spongy kings suitable for kids and grown-ups working out this beach body ;-) equally.

As for the cholesterol intake, I replaced full fat cow’s butter with vegetable spread (e.g. benecol with butter taste is a great option), omitted the egg yolks (used only whites) and completely removed butter from frosting. Well, that comes with a price of course, as you may find the frosting a little watery; the workaround for this is to refrigerate the frosting as long as possible and until serving, use some icing sugar (inevitably) and invoke a thickening agent like 1 tbsp of arrowroot (which is my preferred agent as it reacts very good with cold dairy products) or corn starch to make it more stable when piped.

muffins photography

I understand the frosting can be a hassle so you might as well completely omit the frosting and serve as simple muffins, which is totally fine and they still look good! To be honest I like them best served without frosting... nothing can beat that taste of warm, fluffy muffin with the molten melted choc chips in the middle!

The Muffin Show:

I am a muffin maniac and this recipe is just the beginning; more muffin recipes are on the pipeline, stay tuned and subscribe.

Black and white - one world - one love.


2 Mixing bowls, small bowl, balloon whisk (or electric hand mixer), fine sieve, piping bag, muffin tin

Scroll down the end of the page to see my recommendations for products I've used in this recipe.


(makes 8-10 cupcakes or 6-8 muffins depending on the size of your tin)

For the Muffins:

  • 150g self-raising flour

  • 5 tbsp good quality natural cocoa powder (without sugar)

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla powder)

  • 2 egg whites

  • 60g dark molasses raw sugar (or caster sugar)

  • 40g agave nectar or maple syrup

  • 200g coconut yoghurt (preferably unsweetened)

  • 120g low cholesterol butter spread

  • 50g pecan nuts (or roasted hazelnuts), finely chopped (1-2 passes in a food processor)

  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips/chunks

  • Pinch of salt

For the Frosting:

  • 180-200g Greek yoghurt (2% or 5% fat is fine)

  • 100g full-fat Philadelphia cheese (or vegan coconut cream cheese)

  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar

  • 1 tbsp icing sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 tbsp thickening agent (arrowroot or cornstarch)

  • 1 fresh lime, juiced (optional)


  • Philadelphia > Vegan Coconut cream cheese.

  • Molasses Raw Sugar > plain caster sugar or demerara. Just don't bother too much if you can't find raw unrefined sugars and go for the standard. The amounts are already reduced so you have nothing to worry about how much unhealthy impact this substitution will have. Just be extra cautious if you're using liquid sweeteners (nectar or syrup) because they will change the consistency and texture of the sponge. Sugar is responsible for the texture in a large percentage so if you eliminate it then you might need to reduce other wet ingredients(like yoghurt for example) to balance.

  • Egg whites > Apple sauce (unsweetened) or Chia seeds. 1 tbsp of apple sauce for each egg you replace. Chia seeds are the vegan alternative: mix 1 tbsp of chia seeds in 3 tbsp coconut milk (or water) and wait for 5-10 minutes to react. Once combined, the seeds become gelatinous, kind of like the texture of an egg.


  • Start with the frosting so that you can refrigerate it longer to firm up. Using an electric beater (or a handheld balloon whisk), beat the Greek yoghurt with the cream cheese in a mixing bowl that fits your fridge. Keep adding the ingredients one by one: sugar, syrup, lime juice, starch until you reach the desired consistency. If it’s too watery, add some more icing sugar or starch powder. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until serving.

  • Preheat oven to 150-160c (fan) and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.

  • Mix the dry ingredients: Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder together then add some salt. Work the molasses with your hands to break any formed rocks (I usually beat them with a pestle) and incorporate with the dry ingredients and the ground nuts.

  • Wet ingredients: In a big mixing bowl lightly beat the egg whites and then slowly stir in the rest of wet ingredients (butter, yoghurt, maple syrup, vanilla extract).

  • Start blending the dry ingredients into the wet, but not overmix, and then fold in the chocolate chunks.

  • Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin cases (fill them all the way to the top if you go for muffins, or up to three quarters if you go for cupcakes - photo below)

  • Bake for 15-20 min (can vary from oven to oven) until slightly risen. To test if they are baked inside, insert a toothpick and check if it comes out dry and clean.

  • Let the cupcakes/muffins cool down on a wiring rack completely before piping the frosting. If you don't own a proper patisserie piping bag (like this), just fill up the cream into a plastic food storage bag and cut the corner. Pipe the frosting and top with choc shavings for serving.

Recommended Products

Below are my favourite authentic products I used to cook and shoot this recipe. If you can't see the icons and links, please deactivate your ad-blocker :-)

Cake Stand:

Muffin tin and Wire Rack: if you seriously considering getting into the cupcake/muffin business you've better gear up with a 12 hole muffin tin and a wire rack to cool your babies off. Most of my recipes give about 10-12 muffins/cupcakes and what's more, you can always freeze some and eat later. Le creuset is always the best choice but quite pricey, so I'm posting below another brand that I've used and worked out pretty well for my bakes! I wouldn't recommend the silicone tray, turned up pretty annoying and messy getting your bakes out of the moulds.

Piping bag: If you're into frostings, whipped creams and party cake decoration you better get one of those with multiple tips to give some different shapes depending on the project and the mood.

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