Best-Ever Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes with Naturally Pink Frosting
Have you guys made the best-ever chocolate quinoa cake yet? If you like chocolate cake and you haven’t tried it, you are missing out…big time.
Clearly I’m obsessed, considering this is the third time I’ve posted it on the blog and the second time in the form of cupcakes in the past two weeks.
You see, my original plan was to give you a vegan version today but unfortunately the dessert gods had other ideas in mind. When I started testing the recipe 2 months ago I accidentally wrote down the amount of cooked quinoa as dry quinoa. Yeah, I must have made at least ten batches of mushy wet disgusting cupcakes before I finally realized where I had gone wrong. After smacking my head against the wall a few times, I tried my best to suck it up and test the recipe written below using this vegan and gluten-free egg replacer but they still turned out sad, droopy, and mushy. What’s weird is that I’ve had a few readers claim that flax eggs work but there were also a few that claimed it didn’t. IDK.
Anyway, if you can have eggs then I promise you will love these cupcakes, gluten-free or not. They’re insanely moist and decadent and they taste awesome with a lightly sweetened PINK cream cheese frosting.
You know I had to make something pink in honor of Valentine’s Day. Just to keep things original around here. ;)
Rather than use red food coloring, I opted to roast a beet and use a little bit of it’s juices to give the icing a soft pink color. If you don’t want to blend and strain the beet to get the juices, you can always shred it and add a little to the icing. I did that the first time and it turned it a darker pink color (and tasted amazing!) but I think it looks more physically appealing without the bits of beet in it.
Plus those people who are skeptical of vegetables and healthy foods (you know who I’m talking about) will never know the difference. It will be our little secret! hehehe
1 cup cooked quinoa*
3 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) vegan butter, melted and cooled**
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup organic cane sugar or coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces cream cheese or dairy-free cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 roasted beet***
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line or grease a muffin tin for 6 cupcakes.
- In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (cocoa powder to salt) and then set aside.
- After you’ve cooked the quinoa, allow it to cool and remove any excess moisture by straining it thoroughly. Next combine the quinoa with 2 eggs, almond milk, vanilla extract and melted butter in a blender and process on high for 1-2 minutes, until smooth.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and then fold together using a spatula. Be sure to scrape down the sides so that the mixture is completely combined.
- Using an ice cream scooper, scoop the batter into the muffin tin until each is 3/4 of the way full, making 6 total.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until you can stick a toothpick in the center and have it come out clean. Allow to cool.
- Meanwhile make the frosting by beating together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract for 30 seconds or until it’s fluffy.
- Add the peeled and roasted beet to the (rinsed out) blender and blend until smooth. Then use a colander to strain the juice into a small cup. If not much juice is coming out, add a teaspoon (or two) of water to help loosen it up. Next add a teaspoon of the juice to the frosting and continue to beat until well-blended. If you’d like it to be a deeper pink, you can add another teaspoon of the juice.
- Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and refrigerate until ready to serve. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
*1/3 cup dry quinoa yields a little more than 1 cup. Although it isn’t necessary, I recommend soaking the quinoa overnight or for at least 8 hours prior to cooking it. For more information on why I soak it and also how to cook quinoa, refer to this post. Prep time includes cooking quinoa but not soaking it.
**you can also use regular butter or 3 T coconut oil
***refer to this post for how to roast beets. Total time doesn't include roasting beets.
Refer to the original recipe to make 12 cupcakes if desired and double the icing.
Quinoa cake is adapted from the cookbook Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming
I love using beet juice to color frostings. It looks so pretty on these cupcakes. MMM…I really wish I could have one of these later with my coffee. :)
I would be okay with beet chunks in my icing :) These are beautiful!
Ridiculously gorgeous. And I’ve run into the same issue with some people claiming that flax eggs work while others claiming they don’t. Maybe it all depends on their definition of what’s a good cupcake? IDK either. I do know that I want one of these though… and it’s only 8 AM :P
Love that idea for the pink coloring! That frosting looks amazing. I just want to eat it by itself with a spoon haha.
These look AMAZING! I totally want to do my own food coloring for everything. Beets make the colour so lovely, that’s for sure!! I’d be interested to see if I make these what my flax egg will do to them!
I can’t! These are SOOOO beautiful. I want to try them to badly!! You make the food, I bring the wine??
All hail the beet juice frosting, woop woop!! I really must make these cakes o’ joy! It’s been forever since I’ve baked a cake or cupcakes and never have I ever made a treat using quinoa. Ugh. So genius. So beautiful. So on my To Bake list!
Sarah these look great! I love that you made the serving size smaller. I hate making a big batch of cupcakes/cookies/any baked goods because I just end up eating them all and feeling bad! Haha six is perfect!
I know. There was no way I could test this recipe so many times making 12 cupcakes! I always try to eat my failures and six was plenty enough for me to cry my way through. ;)
Haha don’t you hate it when you put a recipe you’re testing aside and then come back to it later and totally mess it up because you don’t understand what you wrote? I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve done that! These look like they turned out beautifully eventually though. The beet dyed icing is perfect!
Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone in my mishaps! :)
I felt like when you said “you know who you are”…it may as well have said Stacey. haha :) These look delish!! Happy Love Day to one of my favorite couples!
Was it that obvious?! ;)
Happy Love Day to you too, darlin’!
These look too pretty to eat! Kudos on such an original and creative recipe. Yum!
These little quinoa cupcakes look perfect! I just LOVE how you have naturally dyed the frosting. Beautiful!
Thanks Thalia! I need you to come help me frost them next time, haha! ;)
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I am a huge fan of beets and love that naturally pink frosting! I also happen to love love love the texture of these quinoa cupcakes – who’d have thunk they had no flour!
Ahhh!! I love this! These look so cute and fun! Perf for Valentines day! …and I saw your Best ever cake on Pinterest!! Looks soooooooo good! What a creative (and healthy!!) idea to use quinoa!! Love it!
I absolutely love how you naturally gave the frosting its pinkish color. I haven’t tried your quinoa cake yet, but I definitely think I need to! :)
How beautiful!! I haven’t baked with quinoa before. It’s been on my to-do list for awhile now, and you’ve convinced me to get a move on it! These cupcakes look beautiful and delicious and the pink frosting is the perfect finish. I’m glad I found your site!
Thanks Annie! :)
I got all excited when I saw that frosting! The first thing that came to mind was BEETS!!! haha The little things in life :)
These cupcakes sound so so good! I need to try that quinoa cake stat! And quinoa cupcakes…
I would have never guessed the pink color here comes from beet juice. This makes the recipe even more appealing to me. I’m also impressed by the stunning photography. Well done, Sarah!
OMG these cupcakes look like absolute perfection! Too late to make them for Valentine’s Day now but one can always do with a bit of chocolate and pink frosting in your life..pinning :)
Thanks Krystal! :)
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Thank you for this awesome recipe! I made these using a mini muffin tin and reduced the bake time to 20 minutes. They are delicious! Can’t wait to share with my kiddos (I’m a pediatric occupational therapist) tomorrow. :)
Aw, that’s so sweet of you to bring them cupcakes! I hope everyone loves them. Thanks for the comment, Julie! :)
I made these without soaking the quinoa first and they turned out very dry and disappointing. They looked better than they tasted. I would definitely make pink icing using beet juice again though; that was a win! Just wanted to warn people that maybe soaking the quinoa is actually necessary for this recipe.
I’m sorry to hear they didn’t turn out as planned. I wouldn’t think soaking the quinoa should make a huge difference. It’s possible the quinoa didn’t have enough to water to cook with. I will have to revisit the recipe to try to figure out what the problem is. Thanks for the feedback, Leanne!
Can you freeze these ahead and how long will these last if kept in a container? Thanks!!
Hi Jo! You can freeze them for up to 1 month and they keep for about 3 days when stored in a container in the refrigerator. :)
I noticed that this recipe and your original quinoa chocolate cake recipe are a bit different. Mainly in that this one just has butter and the other butter and coconut oil, and that the other has more baking powder. Which one do you recommend, which is better?
This one is just a scaled down version of the cake! It has just butter to shorten the ingredient list and less baking powder so that they don’t rise too much. If you want a full-size cake I recommend making the other recipe. :)