Chocolate Thin Mint Cupcakes

cupcakes photo 300x200Happy Sweet-Tooth Friday!  It’s Christine, and today I’ve got a great healthy recipe for Chocolate “Thin Mint” Cupcakes.  These are so decadent and moist; nobody will ever believe they are made from zucchini!  I think these cupcakes are my favorite NMA dessert to date, but I only got to sample one because of an unusual visitor!

This is a perfect way to use up some zucchini that’s overflowing the farmer’s market stands or in your own garden!  Zucchini is technically a fruit, related to both watermelon and cucumber.  It’s a great source of vitamin C!  In baking, one of the best things about using zucchini is actually what you can leave out: the water and fiber rich pulp easily stand in for fat and extra flour.

If you’ve never done much baking without eggs, beware!  Without the risk of salmonella from raw eggs, the batter becomes a free-for-all!  I could barely get these cupcakes in the oven I was so engrossed with licking the beaters.  In this recipe a banana performs the binding that eggs would.  Usually I use very old, almost black bananas in baking for the best flavor, but here I chose a slightly under ripe one so that the banana flavor could stay in the background.

ingredients photo 300x200In this recipe I used two of my secret weapons for flavor: instant coffee and liqueur.  Chocolate and coffee are best friends!  You probably won’t pick up on the coffee taste, but it blends with cocoa for a more complex chocolaty taste.  Liqueurs also add a more complex flavor that I feel concentrated extracts just don’t deliver.  The creme de menthe here gives a mint that is light and refreshing, far from the dreaded toothpaste effect.

For the icing, I melted unsweetened chocolate with more creme de menthe and local honey.  I used Cybee’s Honey from Harford County, MD that I got at a Baltimore farmer’s market.  Did you know local honey can help you fight your seasonal allergies?  The small amounts of pollen the bees collect act almost like an antibiotic in your body, letting you build up immunity rather than just attacking it with histamines.  Cool, huh?

A Surprise Guest

These smelled so good in the oven and I wasn’t the only one who thought so!   You won’t believe what happened next!  I set the cupcakes on a rack to cool.  (Cooling baked goods on a rack lets air circulate all around them, so the cupcakes don’t keep cooking and get tough on the bottom.)  I grabbed one warm cupcake and headed to the living room to type up the recipe from my scribbled notes.  After about 20 minutes I noticed a scuffling in the kitchen.  At first I thought it was the wind blowing the blinds against the window, but when I went to investigate I was in for a huge surprise!

A SQUIRREL was in my kitchen nibbling on the cupcakes!!  He had ripped a hole in the screen and crawled in a window that was only open a couple of inches (You can see the window behind the picture of the ingredients).  When I entered the kitchen I startled him, so he grabbed a piece of baking chocolate and ran across the kitchen, knocking over plenty of bottles on his way!  Then the squirrel just sat on the sill, happily nibbling on his piece of chocolate.  My phone was on the other side of the kitchen, so I didn’t know what to do!  I ran and got the camera and snapped a few shots before he bid farewell.

squirrel 2 photo

squirrel 1 photo

I had to throw away the cupcakes he sampled, but at least I got to have a taste of one!  In the end, the squirrel’s visit was a mixed blessing.  Even though I lost a batch of cupcakes and he made a big mess, I finally gave my kitchen the spring cleaning it badly needed!  (Believe me, I was up to my elbows in bleach!)  Plus, I am happy to know that the scent of these cupcakes wafting out the window is enough to entice a wild beast!  Well, at least a wild critter!

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes Recipe

Here’s the recipe, adapted from a VegWeb recipe for Benz Zucchini Bread:

Wet Ingredients:
1-1 1/2 cups (packed) shredded zucchini, about 1 medium
1 green to yellow banana
3/4 cup demerara sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tbs instant coffee
3 tbs creme de menthe

Dry ingredients:
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
4 tbs (1/4 cup) flax seed, ground
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

For the icing:
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 tbs coconut oil
2 tbs creme de menthe
3-4 tbs honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
big pinch of salt
1 tbs canola oil, if needed

Preheat the oven of 350 degrees.
Peel and shred the zucchini with a hand grater or food processor, set aside.
Combine the dry ingredients, set aside.
In a mixer, combine the wet ingredients (except for the zucchini) and beat until just about uniform.  Sometimes the banana stays a little bit lumpy and that’s ok.  Stir in dry ingredients, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Stir in the zucchini.  Use an ice cream scoop and divide into cupcake cups.  I got 15 cupcakes, but no joke, I ate a significant amount of batter.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until they are nicely domed and tops spring back with a tiny touch.  You can also test to see if a toothpick comes out clean. Mine were done at 18 minutes.

For the icing, put the coconut oil and chocolate in a microwave bowl for 60 seconds.  Stir, then microwave for 30 seconds.  Repeat with decreasing times until smooth.  Stir in the creme de menthe, honey, vanilla, and salt.  The alcohol will make the chocolate “seize up”, keep stirring and add the extra tbs of canola oil if needed.  The icing is very rich like a ganache, so just spread a thin layer on each cupcake.  Garnish with a fresh mint leaf.

cooling rack photo 1024x682

OK that’s it, enjoy!  Don’t forget to close the windows when you bake these because they are just too tempting!

My 30-Day Challenge

Finally, before I go I wanted to commit to this 30 Day Challenge.  I flaked out with the last one but now I am ready with some more drastic changes.  I am not going to consume any caffeine or dairy.  I don’t think either has been a friend to me in a long time.  I am going to drink 64 oz of water everyday.  I am not going to eat any peanut butter for the next 30 days.  I know it’s good fat and has protein, but I eat way more than a serving EVERY day.  I need a break.   I also am going to do cardio for 30 minutes 4 times a week and the Core Performance stretches for 30 minutes 3 times a week.  I really miss the discipline of training for a race so I am really excited to get back into an exercise routine.  I just joined a gym so I’ll update you next week with how it’s going!

Now that I am officially committed, I’ll see you next Sweet-Tooth Friday.  Stay sweet and watch out for squirrels!

xoxo Christine

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Comments

  1. I love the action shot of the bandit! So cute. These cupcakes look great. We have so much zucchini that needs to be used up, but I never thought of using them to make chocolate cupcakes. Yum!

  2. Do you know how hilarious that is!!! What a way to find a new friend…or rather, have that friend find you.
    .-= The Duo Dishes´s last blog ..Shortbreads Swing Our Way =-.

  3. Laurie & Eric says:

    HOLY MOLY! 1) those cupcakes look amazing… 2) you have a lot on your plate for the next 30 days, missy! I like your 30-day-challenge goals…I think I will join you on the no caffeine :)

    ~Laurie

  4. AHHH Evil squirrels! LOL!
    -muffy

  5. They look amazing! I won’t be trying this because of my own 30 Day Challenge, which excludes flour and sugar…

    You are going to be busy during those 30 days. Good luck!

    The squirrel is so cute, but I would be furious about the mess!
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..Why I don’t mind the word “fat” =-.

  6. If just the smell of these cupcakes was enough to drive a squirrel to do a little B&E, I’m absolutely going to make them-it’s really quite a testimonial. ;) Besides, squirrels aren’t the only ones who love zucchini in baked goods…

  7. That squirrel is TOO funny! I love the pictures of him… eating the chocolate! Wow- you have quite a 30 day challenge! I’ve been not eating sugar or white flour and it has been really, really REALLY hard. The sugar is a killer! The cupcakes look wonderfully delicious- maybe I’ll make them to celebrate at the end of this challenge!

    • I meant to ask how the no-white-powder challenge was going for you. Seriously, those numbers you got from the doc’s are scary, I’m really glad that you’ve started with this big change. I know how big a part of your day sweets are!

  8. It seems like a lot of you guys are taking a break from sugar and flour! I’ll try to figure out a yummy dessert for next week that excludes them.

    P.S. The squirrel came back last night. The window was closed, but he hung vertically on the screen with all four feet and gazed wistfully inside as I did the dishes.

  9. Oh my gosh that is hilarious!!!!
    Those muffins look delish! I’m lovin’ Sweet Tooth Fridays!
    .-= Annabel´s last blog ..Testing 1, 2, 3 =-.

  10. That is so funny about the squirrel! At least he had good taste!

    Though I’m not officially participating in the 30-day challenge, I’ve actually unofficially sworn off peanut butter for the time being, for the same reason as you. I’ve eaten 5 jars in the past 6-8 weeks…eek! I’ve got half a dozen more in my pantry, but I’ve resolved to wait as long as possible before opening my next jar.
    .-= Amber Shea´s last blog ..Blueberry cornbread muffins =-.

  11. Tina Brandenburg says:

    I do not eat white flour or sugar. What do you think about substiting almond flour and in place of sugar using dates?

    • Hey Tina,

      If you don’t want to use whole wheat pastry flour, you need to account for the gluten that’s removed, as well as the textural difference of almond flour. I would do 3/4 cup of almond flour, 1/2 cup tapioca starch, and a 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum. Check out my post on how to make any recipe gluten-free for more information about these kinds of substitutions. (http://www.nomeatathlete.com/gluten-free-vegan-baking/)

      As for the sugar, a half cup of chopped dates could work. Try throwing the dates in a food processor with the wet ingredients to get a smooth consistency.

      If you do use tapioca starch it will add to the sweetness, plus I’d also recommend using a riper banana for some extra sweetness.

      -Christine

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