Skinnified Kahlua Mocha Cupcakes

What would a birthday be without cake? In my group of friends, I am the designated birthday cake baker. I love it. One of my favorite things to do for someone I love is bake something special for them. It feels like I get to give them a piece of myself. Yes, I’m sentimental. In the past, I have made a lot of cakes that I wouldn’t touch myself. It pretty much took all the fun out of it and made me hate life a little. It’s one thing to make someone their favorite cake that happens to be a flavor you don’t like and choose not to eat it, but it is an other to be in such a strict mentality that the entire night is an internal battle. Right now, my feelings are, if I don’t feel okay eating it, I’m not making it. I’m not sure how this will go over with the best friend birthdays that begin next month, but for now, it is only healthy(ish) cupcakes coming from this kitchen!

Luckily, Kara likes my healthy baking so I didn’t feel like I was cheating her by sticking to my guidelines. I really hope some day a piece of real birthday cake won’t cause me a ton of anxiety, but until that day, I just know I need to do what’s best for me :)

Sunday afternoon after a fantastic Zumba and coffee date with my friend Christina (we’ve been friends since preschool–pretty amazing, right?), I came home and got to baking! I began by spreading my things all the way across all of our counter space in what Steve refers to as “Hurricane Ariana” Messy cooks are good cooks! Plus, what fun is baking if you don’t get a little messy? Also, I bought some new tools special for the occasion!

This tool is supposed to cut out a hole in the cupcake, to fill with frosting or other deliciousness. It didn’t work as prettily as I would have liked, so I didn’t use it long. Maybe if I made a separate filling and wasn’t just using the frosting it would have been worth it, but it just seemed like unnecessary extra frosting for me. I also bought this decorating set that I tried to fill the minis with and it hardly worked at all, but it did make the tops of the cupcakes a little prettier.

These, like the Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes are based off a recipe from Annie’s Eats. Apparently, this Annie is a genius, and I should add her to my blog reader! Thanks Annie for all the great inspiration!

My Swaps:

  • Double the espresso powder (+YUM)
  • 3 egg whites for 2 whole eggs (-fat, -cholesterol, -calories)
  • Reduced fat buttermilk for buttermilk (-fat, -calories)
  • Applesauce for vegetable oil (- fat, -saturated fat, -calories)
  • Whole wheat pastry flour for all purpose (+fiber, +protein)
  • 1/2 Splenda, 1/2 brown sugar for sugar (-sugar, -calories) **Note: I wouldn’t have swapped the brown sugar for regular, but we were out of regular so I improvised :)**
  • + coconut extract (+YUM)
  • Frosting I had to start from scratch–I bet it was delicious, but this home girl can’t hang with that much butter!

Skinnified Kahlua Mocha Cupcakes

yield 24 servings (I made 12 regular, 24 minis)

  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. instant espresso powder (I used 3 packets of via)
  • 1½ whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar or brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Splenda
  • 1½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • ¾ cup reduced fat buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • Kahlua for brushing


1) Preheat oven to 350.

2) In an electric mixer, combine flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, Splenda, and sugar.

3) Add all other ingredients except Kahlua and mix well for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.

4) Fill lined baking tins 2/3 full. **Note: The batter is a little runny and messy. It worked best when I transferred it to a freezer bag with a small hole cut at the bottom**

5) Bake for 18-22 minutes (about 3-5 min less for minis) until tops spring back when lightly pressed.

6) Use a fork to poke small holes in each cupcake.

7)  Brush with Kahlua while still warm, repeat.

8) Transfer to cool on wire rack.

9) Once cooled, frost and enjoy!


Kahlua Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

yield 24 servings

  • 16 oz fat free cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Kahlua
  • 1-2 tsp coconut extract


1) With a hand mixer, beat all ingredients together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

2) Chill for approx 1 hour.

3) Frost and enjoy!

Attempting to fill…


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