Fall is traditionally marked with recipes that incorporate the seasons abundant squash and apple harvests. There is, however, another harvest that takes place this time of year that often gets overlooked by the masses…the cranberry. In fact, unlike apple and squash harvests, the cranberry has a very short harvesting season, which happens to fall conveniently right around the holidays. A fantastic way to incorporate the season’s underdog without doing too much damage to a healthy lifestyle is through a cupcake. A cupcake is small enough to keep fat, calories, and sugar in check and simple enough to allow the cranberries to star in their own show.
Do not let their appearance fool you, as these skinny cupcakes are bursting with flavor. Every bite is laced with cranberries that provide a tangy burst of flavor and present touches of crimson, setting the tone of the season for any holiday table. Taking a hint from traditional upside-down cakes, I added a layer of butterscotch to the bottom of these cupcakes to tone down the cranberries. The great thing about them though is there is no need to flip the cupcakes after they are finished baking. Having the crispy butterscotch layer on the bottom adds a unique texture, as if there is a crust for the moist cake layer above it. With each bite the tartness of the cranberries hits the palette, followed by the crisp butterscotch layer. The butterscotch layer quickly candies the tart flavor to keep it from becoming overwhelming.
I love these cupcakes for how quick, easy, and presentable they are to both the eyes and taste buds. This recipe will produce 12 cupcakes, however you can easily double the recipe to make more. As always, keep in mind that a skinny recipe is not necessarily a “good for you” recipe, but it is lighter than its counterparts. A traditional cranberry cupcake will typically have over 400 calories, almost 20 grams of fat, 400 mg of sodium, and over 30 grams of sugar. This recipe cuts calories and fat in half and sodium is over 3 times less. They are still high in sugars because after all they are a sweet, but I always make sure to use organic, natural sugars that are not refined (such as Wholesome’s Brand) to make a healthier product. If you are following Weight Watchers, one cupcake is equal to 6 Points or 7 Points Plus.
Skinny Cranberry Cupcakes
- Cooking Spray
- 1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar; packed (preferably Organic)
- 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- 6 oz. Fresh or Frozen Cranberries (thawed if frozen)
- 6.75 oz. Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (approximately 1 ½ cups)
- 2 tsp. Baking Powder
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- 1 cup Sugar (preferably natural cane but you can sub granulated)
- ½ cup Unsalted Butter; softened
- 2 Large Eggs; yolks & whites separated
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- ½ cup 1% Low-Fat Milk
- Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 12-cup Muffin tin with cooking spray.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar and 2 tbsp. butter. Cook mixture until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves (approximately 2 minutes), stirring occasionally. Distribute the sugar mixture equally among the muffin tin’s 12 cups. Coat the bottom of each cup evenly. Arrange cranberries evenly over the sugar mixture (approximately 5 cranberries for each muffin cup).
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a whisk until uniformly mixed. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and softened butter. Beat with the mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes). Add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Fold the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, alternating with the milk (be sure to begin and end with the flour mixture).
- Clean the bowl and beaters of the stand mixer, making sure it is free of any food particles and completely dry. Beat the egg whites with the mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the resulting meringue (egg whites) into the prepared batter. Distribute the batter evenly amongst the 12 cups, spreading evenly over the cranberries. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Loosen the cupcakes from the sides of the pan with a narrow knife and remove. Serve immediately or move to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Weight Watchers: 6 Points or 7 Points Plus