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Sneaky Cupcakes

21 cupcakes

Chef notes

In the spirit of April Fool’s, I’m serving up sneaky sweets! Your taste buds will be delighted by a familiar treat (hello, delicious cupcakes!) and you will be surprised by the addition of two stealthily healthy ingredients. Everyone knows I don’t joke around when it comes to dessert. I really think you’ll flip for these irresistibly moist cupcakes with bonified health perks.  Plus, they’re topped off with a creamy frosting made from a fruit. And the best part — secret ingredients and all — your pickiest eaters will never suspect the swaps.

These delectable cupcakes will surely bake you happy. I use a boxed cake mix — full disclosure: it’s not going to win any nutrition awards, but it does save time and effort. (Yes, I’m a nutritionist, but I’m also a busy mom and can appreciate the ease of boxed mixes!) Here, I add a can of pureed beans to the mix, which boosts the fiber and protein content, along with eggs and applesauce. Trust me, if you don’t spill the beans, no one would ever suspect. I tested it out on more than a dozen nieces, nephews and neighbors, and none had any clue.

Note: This trick works for both vanilla/yellow cake mixes and chocolate. Use white beans for light-colored cake mixes, and black beans for chocolate. They’re scrumptious, satisfying and deliver true cupcake magic!

Chocolate-Avocado Frosting: I cing, you cing, we all sing for icing. The star of this flavorful frosting is none other than the almighty avocado. I chose the heart-healthy standout because it’s creamy, neutral-tasting and loaded with so many beneficial nutrients, including potassium, fiber and good fats. Look for the ripest ones for the creamiest result. I mix in confectioner’s sugar (regular sugar tastes delish, but produced a grainier texture), vanilla extract for a pop of flavor and cocoa powder for health perks and taste, of course. But cocoa powder also helps mask the avocado color, and if you’re trying to keep the sneaky ingredient under wraps, the fruit’s signature hue is definitely a green — I mean red — flag. Get the recipe here.


  • 1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed*
  • 1 box yellow cake mix*
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce



Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 standard cupcake tins with paper liners and lightly mist the insides with nonstick cooking spray so the cupcakes don’t stick. Set aside.


Add the beans and one cup water to a blender and purée until completely smooth.


In a medium mixing bowl, combine bean purée, cake mix, eggs and applesauce in a mixing bowl and stir to create a velvety batter (it’s OK if you have some small bumps throughout). Pour batter into the prepared cupcake tin; fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full (~1/4 cup batter in each) and bake according to directions on box (for cupcakes it’s typically 19 to 23 minutes). To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the middle of one and they’re done when it comes out clean.


Top with Chocolate-Avocado Frosting (recipe linked above).

*For chocolate cupcakes. swap in 1 can of black beans and 1 box chocolate cake mix.