May 10, 2014

Zucchini, beetroot and almond cupcakes

The cold weather is setting in around Orange with an average day being around 4-14 degrees celsius. The Autumn leaves are falling creating a mosaic of colour on the footpath showing the telltale signs that we are one step closer to Winter.

Naturally, I am craving warm things and although I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth I am in a baking mood. I also suspect my mind is half filtering all the beautiful cakes I’m seeing in every food magazine, online recipe sites and more in the lead up to Mother’s Day.

Making cupcakes is always a fun activity to do with children. They love measuring, pouring, mixing and seeing their creations go into the oven and are then surprised when it’s time to see the final stage of them coming out and ready for decorating!

On this occasion I decided to prepare the mixture myself…there is just a touch of smoke and mirrors with this cupcake recipe; there’s no sugar, no chocolate and no artificial colours or preservatives!

We were having some of my son’s playmates around for the afternoon and the chances of being asked for a treat were high. One little bumpkin asked, “do you have any chocolate?” and I said “No”. The other said, “do you have any cupcakes?” and I replied “How did you know?, Yes I do have cupcakes!”

There it was, I had concocted a plan to present them with a pretty cupcake which was actually loaded with goodness. In all honesty, I realised that this robust creation was a little bit much for three little kids to tackle in a standard cup cake size. The mini-muffin size is best for bite-size goodness and then you can make them feel really special by allowing them to have another if their taste-buds truly desire.

I figure that even if they only have a couple of bites, that’s a couple of bites of beetroot and zucchini that they might not have eaten if it was sitting on their dinner plate later.

The verdict? Well one sat there and probably ate the equivalent of two mini-muffins. One came back for seconds so perhaps a little over one mini-muffin and the one who asked about the chocolate ate the top of the icing and the little bit of cake underneath and returned with the same question “do you have any chocolate?”…ah well you can’t fool (or please) all three, but overall let’s just call it a successful experiment.

This mixture will make a tray of mini-muffins and one loaf too which could freeze ahead without icing.

zucchini, beetroot and almond  cupcakes

Zucchini, beetroot and almond cupcakes with pomegranate cream cheese icing


1 1/2 cups wholemeal plain flour

1 1/2 cup white spelt flour

1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

2/3 cup almond meal

3-4 medium-sized beetroot (approx 1 cup or just over)

2 medium to large zucchini (approx 2 cups)

3 tablespoons raw honey

140 gm pitted medjool dates chopped

1/3 cup coconut oil (if solid, heat on low to bring it liquid consistency)

3 eggs (separate the yolk and whites if you want the fluffiest mixture and include step 5.)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon cinnamon


180 gm cream cheese

40 gm pomegranate arils

3 tablespoons honey


1. Preheat oven to 180 C or 170 C fan-forced / 330 F. Grease a loaf tin or line a few mini muffin trays with cup cake wrappers.

2. Rinse beetroot, cut tops and ends off and place in saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer until softened, adding more water to top up occasionally. Rinse with cold water and rub skins off with fingers.

3. Combine the sifted flours, soda, salt, cardamom, cinnamon and almond meal into a bowl.

4. In a food processor place beetroot, zucchini, dates, honey, coconut oil, vanilla extract and egg yolks and beat until smooth.

5. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. (Note: This step is optional, you will get a lighter fluffier mixture otherwise add whites to food processor in step 4).

6. Fold the zucchini and beetroot mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients until combined and then very gently fold in egg whites to keep as much air in the mixture.

7. Spoon mixture in immediately and place mini-muffins in oven for approximately 12-15 minutes or until skewer comes our clean. If cooking mixture in loaf tin bake for 45-50 minutes and then reduce oven temperature down to 150 C / 300 F for a further 10 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

8. Leave in tins for 10 minutes before removing onto a rack.

9. Meanwhile, using an electric beater combine icing ingredients together until smooth, and place in fridge.

10. Once cake has just cooled, spread with pomegranate icing.

Tips: Muffins are best eaten warm, however the loaf is good for a few days toasted with butter if you don’t choose to ice straight away.






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