Healthy(er) Vanilla Cupcakes with Berry Glaze

In my classroom, we’ve decided to investigate hyenas.  This is actually a little strange, because when you do some digging, you’ll discover that hyenas are…

Well, they’re mad weird.

We’ve learned that hyenas eat bones and trash and that their babies are born with teeth so that they can KILL EACH OTHER hours after they’re born.  We’ve learned more than we could ever care to know about hyena anatomy and we’ve learned to preview educational “nature” videos before showing them to children.  We’ve learned not to watch this and we’ve learned how NOT to teach children to make animal noises.

Because listening to 18 children laughing like hyenas is a one-way ticket to Migraineville.

We’ve created our own life-sized hyena and are currently in the process of making a hyena “habitat”, which is basically just a giant piece of paper covered in sand and brown paint.  Because… “hyenas are dirty.” #wordsofwisdom

All of this has nothing to do with the cupcakes I made today, unless you consider the fact that these perfectly adorable pink and purple cuppycakes are the exact opposite of dirty brown baby-eating hyenas.

Soooo…that’s a stretch.

What I’m trying to say is make these cupcakes because they are cute and *added bonus*…HEALTHY.  Half the butter is replaced with white bean puree, and the frosting is made of berries.  Health food.  Daily serving of fruits AND veggies.  Delicious and nutritious.

Just don’t make them for hyenas.  I hear they prefer eating bones.

Healthified Vanilla Cupcakes (adapted from Everyday Food, Jan/Feb 2012)

yield: 24 regular cupcakes


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar*
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup soy or regular milk*
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

*note: I used vanilla flavored soy milk, so I reduced the amount of sugar that the recipe originally called for.  If you’re using unsweetened soy milk or regular milk, you might want to bump up the sugar by 1/4 cup


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a food processor or blender, combine the beans, butter, and sugar.  Process until smooth, then add the eggs.  Blend until fully combined.
  3. Whisk the bean+butter+egg mixture into the flour mixture until all ingredients are mixed.  Stir in the milk, vanilla, and lemon zest until smooth.
  4. Divide batter among muffin cups and bake for 17-19 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely, then top with fruit glaze (recipe below).

Berry Glaze

  • 3-4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup fruit puree (puree fresh or frozen berries in a food processor or blender till smooth.  Push through a mesh sieve to eliminate skin and seeds)

Whisk confectioners sugar into fruit puree, 1 cup at a time, until glaze is thick but pourable.  Dip the cupcake tops into the glaze and allow to set for at least 10 minutes, then dip them again and allow to set until the glaze hardens slightly.  Store in a sealed container at room temperature.

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