Key Lime Cupcake

Since I live in Florida is it hard to not find a vast amount of appetizers, main dishes and desserts that are not flavored with key lime.   I personally love the tartness of key lime and can appreciate it when it is used in different formats.  Key lime is most known for being used in the ever so popular key lime pie.  Though it is smaller than the traditional lime it packs quite the tart citrus flavor punch.

Key limes are packed full of things that can make your body feel good.  They have been known to help with weight loss, improve skin quality and help digestion.  They have also been used to treat a variety of skin conditions, respiratory disorders and urinary problems.  Key limes are full of vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, vitamin B6 and potassium.

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

For the flour element of the cupcake, traditional cupcake recipes use cake flour. Cake flour is milled for a longer period of time then all-purpose flour so it has a very fine texture. Cake flour gives cupcakes a light and fluffy baked texture. Usually I am a fan of replacing traditional flours with healthier flour versions. However, I have tried several versions of flours in this cupcake recipe and have found that cake flour produces the best results. You can use whole wheat flour, but be forewarned the resulting cupcake is very dense and it is more like a muffin than a cupcake. Unbleached cake flour is available in most grocery stores so that it is good option in regards to purchasing a less processed cake flour. Whole wheat pastry flour is also a replacement option and I would say works the best after unbleached cake flour.

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.

Traditional cupcake recipes use whole eggs. 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.

The last ingredient for me to replace in the recipe was the cow’s milk. Traditional cupcake recipes use whole milk (sometime buttermilk or cream). I don’t necessary mind cow’s milk but I find that unsweetened almond milk provides the same binding and creamy properties of cow’s milk, but without the extra calories, cholesterol 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.

Since this cupcake recipe is a key lime cupcake, I wanted to find a way to amply the flavor of key lime along with adding additional moisture to the cupcake.  I figured the best way to accomplish this would be to add a key lime curd to the batter prior to baking.  Curds are a great way to have a strong flavor presence and add a great level of moisture, much like a pudding would, to baked goods.  Traditional curds are made with whole eggs, butter, sugar, cornstarch, juice and zest from the fruit (in this case key lime). For my key lime 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.

The recipe below is broken down into three sections, the cake part, the curd part and the frosting part. The recipe creates about 12 standard sized cupcakes. In this recipe page I have included two frosting options. I have listed a standard key lime butter cream frosting and a healthy key lime Greek yogurt frosting. The choice on which frosting to use for your key lime cupcake is up to you and whatever your prefer. The cupcakes photographed in this recipe were frosted with my personal favorite, the Greek yogurt frosting.

Key Lime Cupcake

1 1/4 cups cake flour (or whole wheat pastry 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 key lime curd filling (recipe below)

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

Key Lime Cupcake – Curd Part

3 egg whites

1 tablespoon key lime zest

1/4 cup of honey

1 tablespoon non-fat Greek style yogurt

1/2 cup freshly key lime juice

6 tablespoons of coconut oil

A dash of salt

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

To create the key lime curd, 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 slightly before adding to the cupcake batter.

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, key lime 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.

For the key lime cupcake frosting, I have listed two frosting variations. I have listed a standard key lime butter cream frosting and a healthy key lime Greek yogurt frosting.  The choice on which frosting to use for your key lime cupcake is up to you and whatever your prefer. The cupcakes photographed in this recipe were frosted with the Greek yogurt key lime frosting.

Key Lime 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 key lime 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.

Key Lime 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

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh key lime juice

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).

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