Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spice Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

This seems to be the month for making over favorite family recipes. One of my husband's very favorite desserts is a spice cake with penuche-peanut butter frosting lovingly made famous by his Aunt Margie. The cake alone is wonderful and spicy but when topped with penuche, a southern recipe of brown sugar fudge in which Aunt Margie adds a few tablespoons of peanut butter, this cake becomes nothing less than a slice of heaven! To try and reproduce this well-loved recipe in a low-carb version that could pass my husband's taste test was a huge challenge.

To begin with, cake frosting is difficult to make low-carb because it is mostly sugar and butter whipped together. To make a frosting that could stand in for a brown sugar-peanut butter fudge was nearly impossible! My main focus in this makeover recipe was to create a very spicy cake that could stand up to the bold flavor of peanut butter without being overpowered by it. The addition of a single tablespoon of cocoa powder in the batter created a depth of flavor that really made the cake something special. The peanut butter and cream cheese frosting with a hint of molasses really gives this cupcake the unique taste of the traditional recipe. My husband and daughter both loved them...and I think Aunt Margie would be pleased, too!

Spice Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
(Makes 14 cupcakes)

1 cup almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey (or agave nectar can be substituted)
¾ cup Splenda granular (not baking blend)
½ cup canola or vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or “no sugar added” apple butter)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon butter flavor extract

Frosting Ingredients:
½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup light cream cheese
2 teaspoons molasses
¼ cup Splenda granular
¼ cup dry milk powder
2-3 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and spices. Stir with a fork to break up any lumps in the almond flour; set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a handheld or standing mixer until light and lemon colored. Add the brown sugar, honey, Splenda, oil, applesauce, vanilla and butter flavor and beat for 2 minutes until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat only until blended. Using a ¼ cup measure or large cookie scoop, pour batter into prepared muffin tins (do not overfill). Bake for 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for a few minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.

3. To make the frosting, beat together the peanut butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the molasses, Splenda and milk powder and beat until well blended. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time, until a spreading consistency is reached. Spread approximately 2 tablespoons of frosting on each cooled cupcake and serve. If not eating all the cupcakes within a few hours, only ice the number of cupcakes to be eaten. Store remaining frosting in refrigerator and ice cupcakes as needed. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen for longer storage and thawed to room temperature when needed.

Nutritional Information per cupcake (no icing): 170 calories, 12.8 g carbohydrate, 12.4 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1.3 g fiber, 3.1 g protein.

Nutritional Information per cupcake with frosting: 246 calories, 17 g carbohydrate, 17 g total fat, 2.6 g saturated fat, 1.9 g fiber, 6.5 g protein.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2009
Inspired by a recipe by Margie Fitzpatrick of Tulsa, OK.

How does this compare to the traditional cake recipe? Unfortunately, Aunt Margie's delicious cake is no longer a dessert that can fit into my food plan, even on a rare occasion, because the carbs and fat grams are simply too high. For comparison, the nutritional information for one slice of Aunt Margie's cake is 456 calories, 62.3 g carbohydrate, 20.2 g total fat, 5.3 g saturated fat, 0 g fiber, 5.3 g protein.

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