Crazed for Cupcakes

By Bianca Tamburello, Dietetics Student, Sargent College

In the last 5 years, cakes have been kicked aside and cupcakes have taken center stage. From food trucks to dozens of trendy cupcake shops to television shows such as “Cupcake Wars” on the Food Network, cupcakes are inescapable. While many food trends quickly lose stamina, I’m hopeful that the cupcake fad is here to stay.

What’s not to love about cupcakes?

They’re personalized so everyone can choose their favorite flavor and offer portion control. If you choose cupcakes over cake for your next celebration you won’t be burdened with half of a sheet cake left over. Most importantly, cupcakes are youthful and fun! Each time I head to my favorite cupcake shop nostalgia sets in. I remember my classmates beaming with excitement when a parent would bring cupcakes to school in celebration of their child’s birthday.

Naturally, the always-trending Karen Jacobs and the KJ SC Test Kitchen baked SC Mocha Cupcakes with Mocha Cream Cheese frosting this Wednesday to make this favorite childhood treat healthier.

Recipe Recap: Mocha Cupcakes

First, the oven was preheated to 350 degrees F.  The dry ingredients including the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, and baking powder were whisked together, while another student combined the melted butter, oil, whole eggs and egg whites in a large bowl. Espresso wasn’t readily available, so instead we used 2 tbsp. of dissolved instant coffee and added it with the yogurt, vanilla and granulated sugar to the wet ingredients.  Next, we carefully melted the chocolate in the microwave and folded it into the wet ingredients. Then the dry ingredients were added to the wet ingredients in small batches until mixed evenly.

Finally, we lined the muffin tins with paper cupcake liners and filled them with batter.  While the cupcakes baked for about 20 minutes, we started making the frosting.

Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting

The frosting only takes 2 easy steps. Simply add the reduced-fat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, instant coffee and vanilla and beat until creamy and fluffy.

Finally, we let the cupcakes cool and frosted them!

Our little cupcakes against the big beautiful Boston skyline. Karen Jacobs is so lucky to live in an apartment with this gorgeous view.

Dining hall ready or back to the test kitchen?

The cream cheese frosting was perfectly rich, smooth and fluffy and the flavors were balanced well. The precise proportions of vanilla and coffee allowed both flavors to shine through. The cupcakes were fluffy and moist but were not as chocolate-y or fudgy as KJ SC Test Kitchen guests hoped. Since the cupcakes were not very sweet, it was suggested that calling the cupcakes decadent muffins is more fitting. In the mean time, this recipe will return to the test kitchen until perfected.

Join us next time for Broccoli and Cheddar Fritatta!

When: Wednesday 9/19
Time: 8pm-11pm
Place: Stuvi 2 apartment 2302

Sargent Choice

Mocha Cupcakes with Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: Approximately 24 cupcakes


1¼ cup white whole-wheat flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed, such as Droste
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 ½ cups plain nonfat yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
2 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in medium bowl, set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and oil.  Add the whole eggs and egg whites and whisk to incorporate.

4. Fold in the yogurt, vanilla, granulated sugar, and dissolved espresso powder.

5. Melt the chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl in the microwave for 90 seconds, and fold into the batter.

6. Gradually add the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated; do not overbeat.

7. Coat muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with papers; fill 2/3 full with batter.

8. Bake cupcakes for ~20 minutes on middle rack of oven, or until tops are golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few dry crumbs attached.

9. Cool completely on rack.

1 Cupcake w/frosting
Calories 140
Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 3 g
Protein 4 g
Carbohydrates 18 g
Fiber 2 g


Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting


One 8-ounce package Neufchatel cheese (reduced-fat cream cheese), softened
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 teaspoon hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions (While the cake is cooling, make the frosting)

1. Combine all the frosting ingredients in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft and creamy.

2. Spread the frosting on the cooled cupcakes.


Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger, The Food You Crave.


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