Mexican Chocolate Protein Cupcakes

Holiday goodie #4: Mexican Chocolate Protein Cupcakes! The texture of these cupcakes is near perfect for a gluten-free, low-carb cupcake. I am proud that I seem to have nailed a recipe on the first try. I was due for some good luck.

Mexican Chocolate Protein Muffin and Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting. Click on the picture for a larger view to see details and the texture of the open cupcake.

This was inspired when Nora was invited to a birthday party for her friend Fiona that would feature chocolate cake and pink frosting. I have been reluctant to make any chocolate baked goods for Nora because one of her breakthrough seizures early in the diet therapy came after I made her MAD-approved brownies. She has since been having cocoa periodically with no problems: occasionally a touch of cocoa in her cream to make her hot chocolate and 4 g of 85% dark chocolate in her Chocolate Chip Keto Ice Cream Pops. I was careful in making these cupcakes not to give her any more cocoa than she has already been having in other treats. I know it’s likely superstition at this point, but I have no interest in tempting any breakthrough seizures.

To round out the flavor profile, I added cinnamon in equal parts with the cocoa powder. Hence, the Mexican chocolate flavor and a nice warm holiday ambiance.

And the protein? That was partly to balance the carbs and proteins in this snack to make it more keto-diet friendly, partly to use the 2 pounds (that’s ~900 g) of whey protein isolate in my pantry. 5. Grams. At. A. Time.

I know your next question: “Why in the blazes do you have 2 pounds of whey protein isolate in your pantry?” I think the answer is obvious, but I will indulge you: I aspire to make Nora into a body builder. Ok, you got me, that’s not really the reason. I aspire to be a body builder. In another lifetime.

Now for the truth. When we started Nora on the MAD diet 1 year ago, the lower ratio meant a much higher protein requirement each day. We felt like we were stuffing her full of protein constantly, so I looked for ways to replace carbs with protein wherever possible. I also read on gluten-free blogs that whey protein produced superior baked goods, so I wanted to experiment with recipes. The only whey protein isolate in town that was free of added sweeteners or flavors came in a 2 pound tub at Stoker’s VitaWorld (that’s right, it’s as groovy as it sounds). As Nora moved to the higher ratio keto diet, she needed much less protein and more fat. Actually, she was happier and able to eat about the same number of calories on a higher ratio when we replaced protein with fat. Everyone was happier and closer to seizure-freedom.

But I was left with almost 2 pounds of whey protein! The recipes I made back then were not clear winners because they didn’t stay with us. I should find some of them and try again. In the meantime, I’m happy that I was able to incorporate a bit of it into these cupcakes. Slowly but surely I will use it. It’s good through November 2013. One more year on the diet, one more year to use the whey protein.

My starting point for this recipe was the Basic Chocolate Cake recipe at, but I wasn’t comfortable with it because of the high cocoa content. As you can see I made some substantial changes to create this recipe, but followed the general proportions of dry to wet ingredients. I frosted them with my Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting, made at a slightly higher ratio than I’ve used before, which is posted below as well. To achieve a 3.5:1 ratio, I used 1 cupcake and 20 g of frosting. Varying the amount of frosting will achieve different ratios.

As always, use this as a starting point for your own recipes and re-calculate using your exact ingredients.

Mexican Chocolate Protein Cupcake. Ratio is 2.3:1. Nutrition per 47 g cupcake (whole recipe makes 3 of these). Nutrition analysis by

Mexican Chocolate Protein Cupcakes
10 g Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour
5 g Ultimate Nutrition whey protein powder
3 g Rapunzel Organic Cocoa Powder
3 g cinnamon
pinch sea salt
1 g baking soda
28 g Strauss European style butter, melted
20 g Thai Kitchen Premium Coconut Milk
20 g Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Cream
50 g egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients well. If you want your cupcakes more chocolatey, you can certainly add more cocoa powder, up to 5 to 6 grams will probably be good. I also added about 1 gram of Sweet Leaf Stevia Sweetener, and you can add sweetener of your choice. Remember to re-calculate with your ingredients and measurements.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: Melted butter, coconut milk, cream and egg. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir well, removing lumps.

Divide into 3 silicone cupcake molds, 47 g of batter in each. Bake for 14-17 minutes or until done. If you depress the top of a cupcake lightly, it will spring back. Or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Check it out. One of these beautiful full-sized cupcakes has only 1.8 g net carbs. I kept waiting for them to fall, but they didn’t! They kept their perfect cupcake shape and popped out of the silicone molds like a dream (you have to turn them inside out after they cool). They had a nice dense but airy cupcake texture, and you know that a keto cupcake will never be too dry.


Nutrition breakdown for 20 g of Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting. This is the amount that I add to the Mexican Chocolate Protein Cupcake to take the ratio of the whole snack to 3.5:1, 243 calories

Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting
30 g Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Cream
88 g Primrose cream cheese
70 g Strauss European style butter
12 g raspberries

Blend all well with a mixer and serve. Full recipe makes 200 g of frosting, or 10 servings at 20 g per cupcake.

You can add a no-carb sweetener to taste. I often use a touch of Nora’s Cytra-K for sweetness and pinkness. You could also use food coloring if it is approved by your dietician and ok for your kid.

Ratio is 10.8:1. I have used it to top the Coconut Cutout Cookies and other treats. When refrigerated, it hardens nicely so you don’t have to worry too much about smashing it. Leave at room temperature to soften.

I know that also has a buttercream frosting recipe that uses protein powder. I will have to give that one a try as a new way to use the whey (heh).

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About Christy Anderson Brekken

In no particular order... Instructor and Researcher, Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University. Educational background: University of MN Law School, 2005. MS in Ag and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 2011. Teaches: Agricultural Law, Environmental Law. Mother: brilliant 9 year old boy; brilliant 6 year old girl with benign myoclonic epilepsy on a modified ketogenic diet therapy. Married to: Ted Brekken, OSU Department of Electrical Engineering. Ride: Xtra-cycle Edgerunner with kid seat; 400-pound cargo capacity. Grew up: Devils Lake, ND. Lived in: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Pohang, South Korea, Trondheim, Norway, Corvallis, OR. Interests: Cooking, knitting, eating, yoga, laughing, hiking, traveling, staying sane.

2 thoughts on “Mexican Chocolate Protein Cupcakes

  1. Wow, these are gorgeous! It definitely makes me want to try dairy for Jade again. But I will go slowly… Michael tried to reintroduce it for himself and it didn’t go very well, so I want to be cautious. Sounds like your cocoa situation, doesn’t it? 🙂

    • Seems like you could get around the dairy here. I think you could easily use coconut milk instead of the heavy cream. The original recipe used more coconut milk, but I substituted for cream to get more fat and fewer carbs in there.

      Butter–you could try out ghee if you are headed that way as an introduction. But you could also use coconut oil, I think. Once they are cooked, the coconut oil will be solidified at room temp.

      Is the whey protein a problem too? I also have brown rice protein powder. It has a more opinionated taste, but with this little bit it might not be noticeable. Our pantry has all kinds of experimental things now that I don’t use much! I put the brown rice protein powder into the cheddar muffins at the beginning of the diet, but haven’t been making them much lately. And I use so little per recipe, the tub of it remains so full!

      Seriously Fawn, if you want to experiment with any protein powders, I will send you some. Email me your address. Don’t order any yourself. Hopefully it will get over the border without being confiscated as “suspicious powders.”

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