Healthy Lemon Doberge Cupcakes

My final New Orleans recipe post for this week is inspired by the traditional layered cake called the Doberge cake.  The Doberge cake originated in NOLA and is a modified version of the Hungarian Dobos torte. Traditional Doberge cake is a layered yellow cakes that are filled with a lemon curd filling  The Doberge cake is a bright, fresh cake that is a perfect reflection of the upcoming spring months.

Prairie Pepper Doberge Cupcake 3

The cake portion of the traditional Doberge cake contains all-purpose flour, butter (or shortening), vanilla extract, salt, baking powder, sugar, whole eggs and milk.  The traditional lemon, pudding type, filling is made up of lemon, butter, sugar, cornstarch, salt and all-purpose flour.  My goal with this recipe was to take the traditional Doberge cake and make it healthier.  I wanted my Doberge cake to be nutrient packed, all while having less sugar, fat and overall calories.

Prairie Pepper Doberge Cupcake 8

I decided instead of a traditional layer cake, I wanted to make Doberge inspired cupcakes.  Cupcakes are simple, fun and easy to serve.  Generally cupcakes follow the same ingredients as a cake recipe, they are just baked for less time time in cupcake liners instead of a cake pan.

Prairie Pepper Doberge Cupcake 11

I started my re-creation recipe with the cake portion of the Doberge cake.   I decided to keep the all-purpose flour (but use unbleached all-purpose flour), salt, vanilla extract and baking powder.  For the sugar, I went to my usual go to sugar replacement, pure Stevia extract.  If you are not a fan of pure Stevia extract you can use cane sugar or coconut sugar instead.  Cane sugar or coconut sugar are both far better options over regular granulated table sugar.

Prairie Pepper Doberge Cupcake 7

For the butter replacement, I again went to one of my go to replacement ingredients, unsweetened applesauce.  Unsweetened applesauce is a great butter substitute.    It provides a wonderful level of moisture and natural sweetness to the baked good.  Furthermore, unsweetened applesauce adds fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants to the cupcake.

Prairie Pepper Doberge Cupcake

The traditional Doberge cake uses whole eggs in the cake part of the recipe.  I am a huge fan of eggs, however, I like to just use the egg whites instead of the whole egg.  By just using the egg white instead of the whole egg you can reduce the amount of fat, calories and cholesterol in the cake. Egg whites provide the same ingredient binding and fluffing properties that the whole egg would produce.

Prairie Pepper Doberge Cupcake 9

Since my recipe was not going to include egg yolks, which makes the traditional Doberge cake yellow, I decided I needed to add some sort of yellow to the batter.   You could use yellow food coloring to make the batter yellow.  However, I am not a fan of artificial colors so I wanted to come up with a natural way of coloring the batter yellow.  Since the lemon curd I was going to use as the filling for the cake is yellow, I figured I could use some of that lemon curd in the batter to make it more yellow.

Prairie Pepper Doberge Cupcake 5

The last ingredient for me to replace in the cake part of the Doberge cake was the milk.  Traditional Doberge cake uses whole milk (sometime buttermilk or cream).  I don’t necessary mind cows milk but I find that unsweetened almond milk provides the same binding and creamy properties of cows milk, but without the extra calories, cholestrol or unsaturated fat.  In addition, almond milk also provides antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein.  Almond milk is lactose free so it is generally easy on stomachs and digestive systems.

Prairie Pepper Banana Fosters Pie 12

Traditional Doberge cake is a layered cake that is filled with a lemon curd filling.  Lemon curd is made with whole eggs, butter, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and lemon juice.   For my lemon curd re-creation, I decided to replace the whole eggs, butter and sugar with healthier ingredients.  I used coconut oil instead of butter, egg white (with cornstarch) instead of the whole egg and honey instead of sugar.

Prairie Pepper Doberge Cupcake 2

The traditional Doberge cake is a multiple layered cake.  Sometimes the Doberge cake is created with up to 9 layers of cake!   Since my re-creation of the Doberge cake is a cupcake, having layers within the cupcake would be quite difficult.  However, I still wanted my Doberge cake to have the traditional Doberge lemon curd filling.  I decided I could use a cupcake dowel tool and remove the inside core of the cupcake so that it could be filled with the lemon curd filling.  Cupcake dowels can be found at most kitchen supply stores and at some grocery stores.  If you plan on making a lot of filled cupcakes, the cupcake dowel is a wise, fairly inexpensive investment.  If you do not plan on making a lot of filled cupcake or do not want to purchase a cupcake dowel, then you can easy use items you have from the around the house to create a cupcake dowel.  I actually used a plastic tube my son had that was filled with valentine’s day candy.

The recipe below is broken down into three sections, the cake part, the filling part and the frosting part.  The recipe creates about 12 standard sized cupcakes.    In this recipe page I have included three frosting options.  I have listed a standard lemon butter cream frosting, a healthy lemon Greek yogurt frosting and a very healthy lemon frosting, using yellow squash. The choice on which frosting to use for your Doberge cupcake is up to you and what your prefer. The cupcakes photographed in this recipe were frosted with my personal favorite, the yellow squash frosting.  Much like pumpkin or sweet potato, yellow squash makes a wonderful base for frosting.  The yellow color of the squash helps to color the frosting yellow which helps amplify the lemon aspect of the cupcake.

Healthy Doberge Cupcake – Cake Part

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/8 teaspoon pure Stevia extract (or 1/2 cup cane sugar or coconut sugar)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 egg whites

2 tablespoons lemon curd filling (recipe below)

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

Healthy Doberge Cupcake – Filling Part

3 egg whites

1 tablespoon lemon zest 

1/4 cup of honey

1 tablespoon non-fat Greek style yogurt

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 tablespoons of coconut oil

A dash of salt 

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

To create the lemon curd filling, in a medium saucepan combine the filling ingredients (listed above).  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.  Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Two tablespoons of the filling can now be used in the cupcake batter and the rest can be set aside to be inserted into the cupcakes after they cool down.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.   In a large mixer bowl or stand up mixer, beat unsweetened applesauce, pure stevia extract (or cane sugar/coconut sugar) with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add pure vanilla extract, almond milk, 2 tablespoons of lemon curd filling and egg whites to the applesauce mixture and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute.  

Slowly add dry flour ingredients into the applesauce mixture continuously beat until well blended.  Pour batter into the lined muffin tin openings (about 3/4 full).  Place muffin pans in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 18 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Remove cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool in the muffin pans on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes.  Gently remove the cupcakes from muffin pans and continue to cool on wire cooling racks.  

After the cupcakes have cooled, use a homemade or store bought cupcake dowel to hollow out a hole in the middle of the cupcakes.  Remove the excess cupcake and fill the hole in with the lemon curd.  The cupcakes are now ready to be frosted.

For the Doberge cupcake frosting, I have listed three frosting variations.  I have listed a standard lemon butter cream frosting, a healthy lemon Greek yogurt frosting and a very healthy lemon frosting, using yellow squash.  The choice on which frosting to use for your Doberge cupcake is up to you and what your prefer.  The cupcakes photographed in this recipe were frosted with the yellow squash frosting.  

Healthy Doberge Cupcake – Frosting Part – Option 1

1/4 cup butter or 1⁄4 cup margarine

1/2 lb package confectioners’ sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 tablespoon milk (or almond milk)

A dash salt

In a medium sized bow, beat butter or margarine until soft.  Add the confectioners’ sugar, lemon rind, salt lemon juice, and milk to the sugar.  Beat until the frosting has a smooth and spreadable consistency.

Healthy Doberge Cupcake – Frosting Part – Option 2

1 cup non-fat Greek style yogurt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

3 tablespoons corn starch 

1/8 teaspoon pure Stevia extract

In a medium sized bow, combine all ingredients and whisk together until well combined and thick.   Place the frosting in the fridge to set up and thicken some more (about 20 minutes).  

Healthy Doberge Cupcake – Frosting Part – Option 3

1/4 teaspoon pure Stevia extract

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon

1 tablespoon lemon zest

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 medium sized yellow squash

Wash and cut yellow squash into bite sized pieces.  Place in a medium sized bowl, cover with a paper towel and microwave on high for 3 minutes.  Place the hot squash into a blender or food processor.  Add the rest of the ingredients into the blender or food processor.  Blend on medium speed for about 1 minute.  You may need to stop the blender or food processor a couple times to reincorporate the ingredients that get stuck on the sides.  After the ingredients are well combined, place the frosting in the fridge to set up and thicken some more (about 20 minutes).  

Prairie Pepper Doberge Cupcake 8

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