Turtle cupcakes sweetened with natural agave

I recently “winged” this recipe for my grandfather’s 90th birthday after hearing his favorite dessert was turtles, the caramelly, nutty, chocolaty classic candy. Not in the mood to do the melting and other tedious tasks involved in candy-making, I attempted a festive spin on turtles by making a chocolate cupcake recipe into Turtle Cupcakes. And, since half my family is diabetic, I decided to use organic, low-glycemic index agave nectar (similar to honey) to reduce the amount of refined sugar. And to my surprise, it actually worked out to be pretty darn delicious!

Turtle Cupcakes
Makes about 12 full-sized cupcakes

3/4 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. flour (if using wheat, add a bit more milk or agave for moisture)
3/4 c. butter
1 1/3 c. agave nectar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. milk
3 eggs
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips/chunks
1 c. Chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl while letting butter and eggs rise to room temperature. Beat butter on high for 30 seconds, then add agave and vanilla and beat on high again for 5-6 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl halfway through. Add eggs one at a time and beat to combine between each addition. Alternate adding dry mixture and milk until combined, then beat on high for 20 seconds. Mix in chocolate chips and pecans by hand. Completely fill paper-lined cupcake pans, and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until firm all the way through (use the old toothpick trick to be sure). Cool on racks or wax paper for an hour, then frost lightly.

Caramel Icing

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and mix in milk and brown sugar. Boil on high for 1 minute.
  2. Remove from heat, and beat in 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Cool slightly, and beat in the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Add more milk if the mixture is too thick.
  3. Pipe icing onto cupcakes in desired design. I used a ziplock baggy with one bottom corner cut off as an icing bag and made golden spirals on top. Do not over-ice cupcakes! This icing is very sweet and a little goes a long way. Trust me.

Tip: To substitute light agave nectar for sugar in any recipe, substitute 1/3 less agave (2/3 c. agave = 1 c. sugar) and reduce other liquids by 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup.

Any other healthy but delicious substitutions you’ve discovered? Post them below!

This entry was posted in Posts and tagged , , by Chloe. Bookmark the permalink.

About Chloe

I'm a writer, editor and constant student of living (and eating) better. I currently work as an HR communications specialist in downtown Minneapolis, MN, with my very non-writery husband and a gruff little Scottish Terrier named Ginny. View my professional portfolio at http://wordtastic.wordpress.com, or my linked in profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/chloeaoneill/.

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