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Posted: January 25, 2012

Recipe: Light Red Velvet Cupcakes With Fluffy Cream Cheese


Hands on time: 30 minutes  Total time: 1 hour  Serves: 24


    For the cupcakes: 

    1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour 
    1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour or cake flour 
    1 teaspoon salt 
    1/4 cup cocoa powder 
    1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
    1/2 cup canola oil 
    1 cup fat free sour cream 
    2 large eggs (higher omega 3 if available) 
    1/4 cup red food coloring 
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
    1 cup low-fat buttermilk 
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
    2 teaspoons white vinegar 

    For the light cream cheese frosting: 
    1/3 cup light cream cheese (block) 
    1/3 cup whipped butter or lower-fat margarine with 8 grams fat per tablespoon 
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
    About 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper or foil liners. If you are making a cake, coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans with canola cooking spray. 

In a medium bowl, add whole-wheat flour, white flour, salt and cocoa powder and whisk together to blend; set aside. 

In a large bowl, add sugar, oil and sour cream and beat on medium speed with electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until nicely blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Pour in food coloring and vanilla and beat on low speed until combined; scrape sides of bowl after about 10 seconds of mixing. While mixer is beating on low speed, add half the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour mixture and the rest of the buttermilk, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Turn off mixer. 

In a small bowl, add baking soda and vinegar and stir to blend. Quickly beat the bubbling mixture into the red velvet batter for about 10 seconds. Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter (at least) into each cupcake paper (or pour into the prepared baking pans). Bake until a fork inserted in the center of your largest cupcake comes out clean (about 20 minutes for cupcakes and 30 minutes for cakes). 

While cupcakes are baking, you can make the frosting. Add cream cheese and whipped butter to mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed (using electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment) until creamy (about 90 seconds). 

With speed on low, add vanilla extract and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Once it's incorporated into the butter mixture, beat on high speed for about 10 seconds. Scrape down sides of the bowl and on low speed slowly add in another cup of powdered sugar. Once it has been blended in, beat the mixture on high speed for about 10 seconds. Scrape down sides of the bowl and on low speed add remaining powdered sugar until you reach your desired frosting texture ( 1/2 cup to 1 cup more). 

This frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.


We are going to make these cupcakes as light and healthful as possible by using a little less sugar (1 1/2 cups instead of 2), half whole-wheat flour and a lot less fat than is called for in a traditional red velvet cupcake. One recipe I looked at called for 3/4 cup butter, another used 1 1/2 cups oil! I used the 3/4 cup butter for the comparison below, but there would have been an even bigger difference in calories and fat grams if I had compared it to the 1 1/2 cup oil recipe. We are switching to a smart fat that will add very little saturated fat and will contribute mostly monounsaturated fat and plant omega 3s --- canola oil. 

For the frosting, we are whipping up half as much frosting (a little goes a long way) and using light cream cheese and whipped butter (which has less fat than regular) or lower-fat margarine with 8 grams of fat per tablespoon. 


Per cupcake (if 24 per recipe): 212 calories (percent of calories from fat, 30), 3.5 grams protein, 34 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 7 grams fat (2 grams saturated, 3.4 grams monounsaturated, 1.5 grams polyunsaturated), 24 milligrams cholesterol, 225 milligrams sodium, 0.7 gram omega 3 fatty acids, 0.8 gram omega 6 fatty acids, 4 Weight Watchers points. 

For comparison, the original recipe contains 325 calories, 15 grams of fat (9 grams saturated) and 63 milligrams cholesterol per cupcake (if 24 per recipe).

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