140 Calorie Chocolate Cupcake

I'm excited to start a couple new series of posts on my blog.  First, is one coming up this weekend.  I'm starting a "Savory Saturdays" feature to my blog.  Almost all my posts have been desserts, but I've been experimenting some with savory dishes as well.  So check out my blog on Saturdays for new dinner ideas, and twists on traditional ones.  I just tried out my recipe last night for this Saturday's post, and it was a hit with my husband.

My other new feature is one I'm starting today. Can you believe Thanksgiving is just two weeks away?! If you are like most people, the start of the Holiday season can be a time when weight gain becomes hard to fight. Not only are there fattening desserts and treats around every corner, but its also cold and harder to stay active.  Thats why between now and New Years Eve, I am periodically posting some healthy alternatives to your favorite desserts.  These treats make it easier to not completely cut out all desserts (for anyone like me with a major sweet tooth), but also don't pack on the pounds.  I've found recipes for a variety of desserts including chocolate cake, banana pudding and a cinnamon apple crumble.

Today's recipe is for a reduced fat, low calorie chocolate cupcake. This cupcake doesn't have quite the same level of flavor or taste as my favorite cupcake recipe, but it contains a fraction of the calories.  A traditional chocolate cupcake with buttercream icing can have 450-500 calories, or more. This revised recipe only has around 140 calories per cupcake.

The reduction in calories doesn't come with a reduction in size.  The cupcake is a traditional size, but has considerable less fat and calories by replacing milk and butter with low fat sour cream, replacing icing with a powdered sugar dusting, and reducing the amount of egg, cocoa powder, and sugar. The cake is light, almost like a sponge cake.  It is good alone, but can be enhanced with strawberries, raspberries, or fresh fruit to give added flavor.  A low fat yogurt would be another great compliment to this cake, without racking up the calories.

This recipe may not be what you enjoy best and want to use for special occasions, but it is a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth during the week, without the extra calories.  The cake is as light as it is guilt free!

The recipe originally comes from a website, CDKitchen.  You will notice it calls out a slightly higher calorie amount.  The recipe baked it as a cake with 9 servings.  I decided to make it as cupcakes, and was able to stretch the batter to 12 cupcakes.  So I found the new amount of calories, which is just around 140!

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cupcake Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  3. Beat on low until fully combined.
  4. Place 12 liners in cupcake pan.
  5. Bake for around 18-20 minutes.
Hope you enjoy this healthier alternative to chocolate cake!  Check back soon for a mouth watering easy apple crumble dessert that is not only healthy, but cooks in the crock pot!

Jaxson's 3rd Birthday Party

If you are planning a party for someone who likes Disney's Cars, then you will want to check out today's tutorials!  This past weekend, my sweet nephew turned 3 and we had a party to celebrate.  Jaxson loves playing with cars, and especially likes Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater from the Disney's Cars movie.  We wanted to have a big celebration this year, as it was his first birthday with us!  Last year we celebrated his birthday, as they had received the adoption match, but we hadn't gotten to meet this special boy yet! 

My sister definitely has a knack for decorating and planning parties.  From ideas of her own, and some from Pinterest, she created a very cute space for the party.  Here's a few pics of the party area.


I was in charge of all things sweet which included a cake, smash cake, and cupcake favors.  I scoured the internet searching for cute Cars themed cakes for months in advance. In the end I used some of the ideas I found online, mixed with some of my own. The amount of baking and decorating was no small task, as there were a lot of people wanting to help celebrate his big day!  I ended up spending almost the entire day before baking and decorating, but the smile on Jaxson's face when he saw the cake definitely made it worth it!

I had been looking forward to making the cake, but was also nervous as I wanted it to be perfect for him!  My day of baking got off to a rough start...  My goal was to make a checkerboard cake so when you cut into it, it would look like the racing flag. I bought a checkerboard pan a couple months ago, but with my recent move I never got the chance to try it out.  Let me offer this advice to anyone trying a checkerboard cake - you need very thick batters!  I wanted to use my go-to recipes for chocolate and vanilla, as I knew my family liked them.  I knew my chocolate recipe was very thin, but I assumed the thicker vanilla would help hold the shape.  It didn't...

I poured the batter into the slots of the pan and it seemed to hold its shape.  But as it started baking the chocolate settled to the bottom and it didn't work. In the end, though, I had a "mess-up" cake my family enjoyed eating for dinner. If anyone has had success with the checkerboard cake, I'd love to hear your recipes! 

I can be a little bit of a perfectionist when it comes to the cakes, so I was extremely disappointed I couldn't make it work. Within the next 15 minutes I managed to dump a full bottle of vanilla extract, spill batter on the floor, and mess up the batter for another cake.  Finally I calmed down, refocused, and started hitting my stride again.

So here are the treats I made, along with some explanations.  As I had a LOT of work to do, I didn't take the time to take a lot of pictures along the way. So I hope my explanations will suffice.  As always, feel free to email, Facebook or comment on the blog with any questions!  

Main Cake

The cake I made first was the two tiered main cake.  This design was based off one I found on Pinterest, with some changes along the way.  This was my first attempt at a tiered cake and I was very nervous!  My husband read with me online to get an idea of what all was needed to support the cake.  We chose the more dense cake for the bottom, but still used dowel rods for the support system. You can read more about stacking cakes on Wilton's website (or other cake decorating sites).

Here are the steps I used to create the cake!
  • Bake and ice both an 8 in and 11 in cake (or whatever sizes you are needing).  I like the look of a 2-3 in difference in size for stacked cakes.  I was going for 3 in tall cakes.  Mine are slightly less, but close.  You can always fill the cakes with buttercream to create a taller look.
  • Make sure both cakes are on cake boards.  I choose a decorative thick one for the bottom layer and thin one for top layer.  You don't want to notice the top one, it is just there for support.  I cut it just slightly larger than the cake, to make it easier to pick up.  The border covers any part showing. A dab of icing can be placed between cake and board to "glue" it onto board.
  • Create fondant pieces for the cake.  All of these, except the road, can be made in advance. As shown, the cake has 5 main fondant components:
  1. Road
  2. Traffic cone
  3. Fondant character heads
  4. "Jaxson" logo
  5. Checkerboard "Happy Birthday"
Road - 

  • For the road, I started with a package of black fondant.  I usually buy white fondant and tint it, but black is very difficult, and time consuming, to create.  Since I needed a lot of black, I decided to buy it.  
  • Next I rolled it out to be thin (<1/16 in). I have the Wilton Roll-N-Cut Mat which made this process very easy.  It is a large mat that has a grid and markings so you know the length, width, and even diameter of the fondant you are rolling out.  
  • I then simply used two round objects to cut out the shape. I actually found a pot lid that was just slightly smaller than the top of the cake. This became a perfect fondant cutter as it had an edge around it.  I also found a bowl that worked of the inside of the road. It is ok if it is slightly smaller than the cake, as the border will cover the gap.
  • When I was ready to put the road on, the icing was still somewhat sticky and hadn't crusted fully.  I was able to attach the road without using additional icing or gum glue.  If the road doesn't seem to stick, though, use one of the edible adhesives to attach it.
Traffic Cone -
  • Tint small amount of fondant (approx large marble size) orange.  If you are using Wilton gels, just use equal red and yellow, as there is no orange.
  • Roll out a thin layer of fondant and cut out a 1/4 in - 1/2 in square piece.  Use your finger, or a spatula, to round out the edges. 
  • Create a cone shape out of the rest of the orange fondant.  I usually start with a ball shape and then pinch and roll one end to get the cone point.  I hold the other end against my hand to keep it flat.  You can also create a cone shape by inserting into one of your decorating tips.  Just make sure it has been sprinkled with some cornstarch inside, so the fondant will not stick in it.
  • Roll out white fondant paper thin.
  • Cut two long, thin strips of the fondant to create the lines on the traffic cone.
  • Attach the strips using gum glue (water with small balls of gum paste or fondant).
Fondant Character Faces - You may recognize these from my previous tutorial.  See that post for step by step instructions (including lots of pics).

Jaxson Logo - Any Disney Cars fans will probably recognize this as the logo for the movie, with "Cars" replaced with "Jaxson."  

  • Create gray fondant by tinting the white fondant with the black gel. 
  • Roll out the approx 1/8 in and cut out a v-shape.  You want the two edges to be thinner on the ends than in the middle.  I just used a spatula to create the cuts and shape the piece.
  • Tint fondant red for the next component.  I have trouble getting a real red shape with the Wilton gels, for some reason.  I've found that the Duff food coloring seems to get a more vibrant red.  You can also purchase that at Michaels.  It is more of a traditional food coloring, so it affects the consistency more in icing, but it works well for the fondant.
  • Cut out a banner shape for the main portion of the red.  I rolled this to just under 1/8 in.
  • Attach the red piece to the gray "V" using gum glue.
  • Roll out small pieces of fondant between fingers and shape into letters of the name or word you are creating. This size will depend on how long of a word you are creating.
  • CAREFULLY attach the letters using gum glue.  Don't worry it you get a lot of excess gum glue on the red portion. When dried, you will not notice it.
"Happy Birthday" and "3" -  
  • Roll out white fondant to 1/8 in.
  • Cut out "Happy Birthday" using cookie cutters.  If you don't have alphabet cookie cutters, they are a great investment!  If not, though, you can free hand.  Another option would be printing out bubble letters and placing the page over the fondant.  You could then use an Exacto knife to cut out the letters in the paper and the fondant.
  • You could cut out small pieces of black fondant to create the checkerboard look.  But to make it easier, use a black edible marker to create the squares on the shape.  I started by drawing out horizontal and vertical lines to make the grid shape.  I then colored in the appropriate squares.
  • The 3 was cut out using a cookie cutter and 1/4 in thick red fondant.
Back to the cake now...
  • Attach the road to the top tier cake.
  • Place toy cars on the road 
  • Attach traffic cone, fondant "3", and checker board flags to the center area of the cake.  Use your imagination to create additional pieces for this area.
  • Attach character faces and "Jaxson" logo
  • Prep pastry bag with coupler and tip 234 (grass tip).
  • Fill pastry bag with leftover green buttercream (leaving some in bowl for later).
  • Pipe grass along the outer and inside edge of the road.  Hold bag at 45 degree angle and apply pressure and then pull away from cake as you gradually let go of pressure.
  • Pipe grass around any other pieces in the center of the cake.
  • DON'T pipe the bottom edge of either cake yet - this will come after assembling.
  • Pipe grass around the top edge of the bottom tier cake.
  • Assemble the "Happy Birthday" letters around cake.  Attach with gum glue, if needed.
  • Deliver cake to final location before stacking - if at all possible.
  • Cut 5 dowel rods down to the height of the lower tier.  Make sure not to cut the rods on or over cake, as you don't want shavings in icing! If the cake is not the same thickness throughout, cut to the lowest point.  Make sure ALL pieces are the same height to ensure the top tier is level.
  • Insert four rods in a square shape on the bottom tier, just inside the location of the edge of the top cake.  I found this edge by slightly pressing the cake board and top tier onto the icing.
  • Place fifth rod in center of the cake for extra support.
  • Place top tier on the bottom tier and make sure it seems stable.
  • Finish piping border along the bottom of both cakes. I actually didn't use it on bottom tier, but you could add it there.

I know, that's a lot of work!  But that is the hardest part of all the tutorials, and definitely worth it!!  The next cake is MUCH easier.  

I wanted my nephew to have a smash cake just for him.  It also needed to have dairy free icing so I altered my buttercream recipe.  I used all shortening (instead of 1/2 shortening, 1/2 butter).  I replaced milk with a mixture of non-dairy creamer powder and water.

Lightning McQueen smash cake -

  • Bake a 6 in round cake that is about 1 in tall. Once cooled, place on cake board.
  • Tint buttercream red using coloring gels and small amount of liquid food coloring, if needed.  I was having trouble getting it to tint with just gel, and had to use some food coloring drops as well.  
  • Ice the cake with the red buttercream.
  • Cut out a shape for the mouth and eyes with white fondant rolled paper thin.
  • If icing hasn't fully hardened, place the fondant on the icing and it should stick.  If not, use gum glue to attach them.
  • Cut out two circles from black fondant and place on the eye shape to complete the eye look.
  • Roll out small balls of black and white fondant to create the border for the cake.
  • Put some gum glue on each piece with a paintbrush and attach to the bottom edge of cake.  This creates a cute border and pulls in the checkerboard details from other cake and decor.
Party favors - 

  • Bake cupcakes and let completely cool. I used mainly shiny foil wrappers to not draw attention away from toppers, and add to the car feel.
  • You can pipe, or just ice a small amount of icing to the top of the cupcake.  
  • Attach characters to the top of the cupcake.  Again these faces are all shown in my previous tutorial.  I created the traffic cone with a black fondant rectangle and three colored circles.  These are again attached with gum glue.
  • Place party favors in bag or box with see-through top for a cute touch!  I found these boxes on Amazon and they were the perfect size for the favors.  My sister added some Cars stickers to the sides of the boxes to finish out the look.

As you can see, a LOT of work went into the decor and treats for the party.  But, it was well worth it to see the birthday boy enjoy his day!!  Hope you found some ideas to make your next Cars party extra special! Feel free to share this post with friends on Pinterest, Facebook, or however you like! 


Halloween Recap

Hope everyone had a great Halloween yesterday!  My husband and I went with some friends to a get together last night and I made some cupcakes.  I have never been a big fan of Halloween, as I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to scary movies and haunted houses.  But last night we had a great time with a few families, and got to enjoy seeing some kids get dressed up and get excited over the best part of Halloween - candy!

I decided to go for three different looks for the Halloween cupcakes.  I made some Jack 'O Lantern, candy corn, and witch cupcakes - all of which were chocolate.  You can find the chocolate cupcake recipe in the Andes mint post (just the cupcake part). For the icing I used a traditional buttercream recipe.  I didn't take a lot of pictures as I was rushing to get them done, but here's a brief tutorial on how to create it.

It may be too late for this Halloween (unless you are having a belated get together), but hope you keep these in mind for next year! The pumpkin cupcakes could even be made for a Thanksgiving get together if you leave off the face and make them simply pumpkins.  They would be especially cute on a pumpkin spice cupcake!

Jack 'o Lantern cupcake ingredient:s

  • Cupcakes
  • Buttercream icing
  • Red and yellow food coloring
  • Black and brown food coloring
  • White fondant
  • Wilton tip #12
Jack 'o Lantern cupcake directions:
  1. Start by tinting the buttercream icing with a mixture of red and yellow Wilton food coloring. 
  2. Using the Wilton #12 tip, pipes lines on the cupcake to create the look for the pumpkin.  Pipe a straight line down the middle, and then more curved lines along the sides.
  3. Using the black food coloring, tint the fondant.
  4. Cut out three triangles as well as a shape for the mouth.
  5. Tint some fondant brown and cut out a rectangle.
  6. Assemble the eyes, nose, mouth, and brown stem onto the cupcake. If needed, use gum glue to ensure the pieces stick. (Gum glue - water with small pieces of gum paste or fondant in it.)

Candy corn cupcake ingredient:s
  • Cupcakes
  • Buttercream icing
  • Red and yellow food coloring
  • Wilton 1M tip

Candy corn cupcake directions:
  1. For this cupcake start by separating the icing into three unequal parts.  The largest quantity should be tinted orange, the next largest yellow, and the smallest amount white.
  2. Using the Wilton 1M tip, pipe a layer of orange onto each cupcake.
  3. Add a layer on top of yellow buttercream.
  4. Finish them off with a small amount of white buttercream.

Witch cupcake ingredient:s
  • Cupcakes
  • Buttercream icing
  • Left over icing from candy corn (or red and yellow food coloring)
  • Wilton 1M tip
  • Fondant
  • Black food coloring
  • Brown food coloring
Witch cupcake directions:
  1. For this cupcake I started by using the left over icing from the candy corn.  I mixed it all together and got a light orange shade.   If you don't have any left over, just create some new orange icing.
  2. Using the Wilton 1M tip, pipe the icing onto the cupcake.
  3. Tint the fondant with the black food coloring.
  4. Roll the fondant out thin (<1/4 in).
  5. Cut out a small circle using the larger end of one of the tips.
  6. Cut out a rectangle of fondant and shape it around a tip to create the cone shape for the top of the witches hat. Use gum glue to secure the side where it meets and cut off any remaining fondant. This creates a hollow top to the hat, you could also just create a solid cone out of fondant.
  7. Pinch down the top of the cone of fondant to create the witches hat look.
  8. Use gum glue to attach the top of the witches hat to the base.  For the hollow cone, you can use a fondant tool to pinch down some of the cone and press into the hat.
  9. Roll out some black fondant and cut to the length you want from the broom stick.
  10. Tint some fondant brown.
  11. Roll out and cut out a rectangle of the brown fondant.  Curve up the top of the portion and add lines with a fondant tool or tooth pick.
  12. Use gum glue to attach the brown portion of the broom to the broom stick.
  13. Finish the cupcake by placing the witches hat and broom onto the piped icing.  If the icing has crusted or is hardened, put a little gum glue on the pieces so they won't fall off.

I've got a LOT of baking to do this weekend for my nephew's birthday party, and I'm very excited!  Check back in a few days for Disney Cars themed treats and tutorials!  I will be making a tiered cake, smash cake, and cupcakes - each complete with special fondant details.  I've gotten a jump start on the cupcake toppers, but still have a lot to do! Hope you check it out and get some ideas for your favorite Lightning McQueen or Tow Mater fan!