So, I’ve been perusing Weight Watchers recipes lately in the hopes of finding some decent, healthy things to make. It’s a hit or miss thing. I like eating healthy, but I also like eating things that taste good. I don’t believe those have to be two different things.
After the week of Valentine’s Day and all its unhealthy treats (I’m looking at you, red velvet cupcake and cœur à la crème and boca negra!), I wanted a cupcake that wasn’t a nutritional disaster. One that was still a treat but that wouldn’t ruin my calorie count for the day. I thought about playing around with Splenda. I keep some in the house to put in my coffee, and I’ve often wondered how it would be to bake with it. So I went in search of a cupcake recipe that would fit my needs.
And I found one, in one of the Weight Watchers cookbooks (I neglected to write down which one, but I made some changes, so I’m including the recipe here): Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcakes. Using one of my new favorite online tools – a recipe analysis at Calorie Count – I estimate that these cupcakes are about 200 calories per serving. I’m hoping that’s accurate, because that’s not too bad. That’s about 150 calories less than the chocolate-peanut butter cupcake that has (apparently) because my signature cupcake.
Anyway, this peanut butter and jelly cupcake recipe. I played around with it some.
The first thing that jumped out at me while I was reading the recipe was that it included both cocoa and bittersweet baking chocolate. Number one, I don’t know why you’d need both of those in one cupcake, when one is usually just as good as the other. Number two, I don’t know why either one is in a peanut butter and jelly cupcake to begin with. Maybe I’m a purist, but I like my peanut butter & jelly to be just peanut butter & jelly. Chocolate really isn’t necessary. So I removed it – both the cocoa and the baking chocolate.
The second thing that jumped out at me was that the frosting was going to be a little weird. A cup of cream cheese, plus a half-cup each of peanut butter and powdered sugar. It was going to taste mostly of cream cheese – and upon making it, that’s exactly what it tasted like. So, I upped the amount of peanut butter, at least twice as much as what was called for. Same thing with the powdered sugar, though not quite as much. I didn’t want the frosting to be overly sweet, because the cake would handle that. If the frosting was to be the peanut butter part, that’s what I wanted it to taste like. I just kept adding peanut butter until I finally got it right.
And last, I switched out some of the sugar for Splenda. Just to see what happened. I figured I didn’t want to go all Splenda until I saw how it would work. After all, it’s not really sugar, so it’s not going to bake up the same as sugar. And though I like Splenda in my coffee, a little of it goes a long way. Too much of it, and you can really tell it’s artificial.
I probably could have used a little less Splenda (like maybe a quarter-cup instead of a half-cup), but this cupcake turned out better than I expected. And it really does taste like a sweet peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The cupcake part was maybe a little over-sweet (hence, my belief that a little less Splenda/sugar could be used), but the peanut butter in the frosting helped tame that. I liked the base cupcake well enough that I’ll tweak it a little more and use it with other flavor combinations – it makes for a good, plain white cake with a good crumb and moist lightness that made it pleasant to eat. The whole cupcake came together very nicely and turned out to be quite tasty. Geordie took the majority of them to work, and once again, none came home.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcakes
adapted from a Weight Watchers recipe
2 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup Splenda
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup canola oil
2 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
~ 1 cup reduced-sugar jam, jelly, or preserves (I used strawberry preserves)
for the frosting:
8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
1 cup reduced-sugar peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a cupcake tin.
To make the cupcakes, whisk together the cake flour, the sugar and Splenda, the baking powder, the baking soda, and the salt. In a separate (larger) bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, eggs and whites, and vanilla extract. Gently add the flour mixture, stirring just until blended. Fill each muffin cup with about two tablespoons of the batter. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely.
Once the cupcakes are cool, fill with the jelly. You can do this two ways: simply fit a pastry bag with a medium tip and inject the jelly (about 1 tsp) directly into the cupcake. I prefer to manually hollow out a hole in the cupcake and fill it that way. I probably got a little more jelly in than just 1 teaspoon, and it makes a little less of a mess. Also, I get a lot of cupcake scraps to mix with the leftover frosting, so I can make little cupcake balls to munch on when I get a sweet craving.
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the peanut butter and beat until smooth again. Gradually add in the powdered sugar until the frosting reaches the desired sweetness as consistency. I may have used more or less than a cup of peanut butter – just keep tasting the frosting until it’s how you want it. I played around a lot with this recipe, so you can too!
Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!