Photo: Caitlin Bensel
Active Time
25 Mins
Total Time
1 Hour 50 Mins
Yield
Serves 12 (serving size: 1 cupcake)

There’s nothing artificial about these dramatically hued holiday treats. Supermoist chocolate cupcakes get their blackout color from black sesame seeds and antioxidant-rich dark cocoa powder. Black sesame seeds have a deep, rich flavor somewhere between exceptionally dark chocolate and coffee. We use vibrant reddish-orange goji berries to achieve naturally orange-colored frosting. Goji berries are packed with eye-healthy vitamin A and can be found at most well-stocked supermarkets in the dried fruit section. These whole-grain desserts are better tasting and better for you, with every bit of fun, festive flair.

How to Make It

Step 1

To prepare frosting, place goji berries and 1/3 cup warm water in a small bowl. Let stand 20 minutes.

Step 2

Place goji berry mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Pour mixture through fine-mesh strainer; discard seeds. Set aside.

Step 3

Place cream cheese and 1/2 cup yogurt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high until smooth. Add powdered sugar; beat on low until combined. Add goji mixture; beat on medium until combined. Chill 30 minutes.

Step 4

To prepare cupcakes, preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners; coat with baking spray. Place sesame seeds in a mini food processor; process until seeds form a paste. Place in a bowl. Whisk in eggs, granulated sugar, 1/2 cup yogurt, milk, oil, and vanilla.

Step 5

Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Add sesame seed mixture to flour mixture; whisk to combine.

Step 6

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350°F for 17 to 19 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on wire rack. Spread frosting evenly on cupcakes, and garnish with black sesame seeds.

Step 7

SNEAKY SUBSTITUTION: We skipped the artificial food dyes and instead used red-orange goji berries to achieve naturally colored frosting. Goji berries are packed with eye-healthy vitamin A and can be found at most well-stocked supermarkets in the dried fruit or bulk bin section.

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