Cupcakes, Lightened Up

They may come in pretty little packages, but cupcake calories can get ugly! Here are some lighter ways to enjoy these tasty pastries.
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They may come in pretty little packages, but cupcake calories can sure get ugly. Here are some lighter ways to enjoy these tasty pastries.

The Basics to Know

Some cupcakes come with almost 500 calories and more than 25 grams of fat -- courtesy of the gobs of frosting and rich ingredients such as butter and eggs. Beware of cupcakes with fillings instead of frosting (it’s just frosting hidden on the inside), and go for smaller-sized cupcakes and lower-calorie versions of some of the other ingredients.

Downsizing

Cupcakes come portion controlled -- as long as you eat just one, that is. If a recipe makes 12 large cupcakes, stretch it out to 16 smaller ones. I like to cut down the portion sizes even further but using mini muffins pans. These Mascarpone Mini Cupcakes with Strawberry Glaze have about 100 calories each. Serve mini cupcakes with a fresh fruit salad, and no one will miss those giant cupcakes.

Rethink Your Batter

Make a lighter cake batter by replacing some of the oil and butter with applesauce, apple butter, marmalade (like in this recipe) or yogurt (like in these vanilla and chocolate ones. Adding fruit or veggies -- shredded carrots or zucchini -- to your batter will add texture, keep the cake moist and up the nutrients.

Top It Off Right

Most frosting recipes contain tons of butter and cups of sugar. Cream cheese frosting (a favorite in my house) has all that butter and sugar plus more fat and calories from the cream cheese. One easy solution is switching to reduced-fat cream cheese. As a general rule, think less frosting and more fruit. Consider making half of the frosting in the recipe and embellishing the top of you cupcakes with fresh fruit –- finely diced strawberries or raspberries and kiwi makes a lightly frosted cupcakes look gorgeous!

    Recipes to try:
[Photo: Redsie / Recipezaar]
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