Eat Your Veggies… For Dessert!

Can you think of a better way to eat yellow squash and carrots than in a chocolate cupcake topped with Nutella cream cheese icing? I didn’t think so.

August is the very first month of the Nutella Challenge hosted by Bell’ alimento! To get things started, Paula over at Bell’ alimento made a wonderful Nutella gelato for the challenge. While I have the whole month to submit my recipe for the challenge, I was too excited about this recipe to defer my blog post to another day.

The organization that I do some consulting for (and used to be a full-time employee at) asked me to be a judge at an Iron Chef style recipe contest tomorrow over lunch. Since I didn’t feel it was fair to show up empty handed, I decided to make some cupcakes to take along with me as my contribution to the lunch fare. Besides, I am always happy to have people to help me eat my creations. If my hubby and I ate all of the baked goods I make, we would both weight an extra 50 pounds, at least!

For the contest, the secret ingredient is zucchini. I didn’t have any zucchini on hand, but I still have loads of yellow squash from my garden, so I decided to use squash instead. After all, I am not competing in the challenge since I will be judging, so I figured I could bend the rules a bit.

I knew that I also wanted to bake something for the Nutella Challenge, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I started out thinking I would make Nutella squash (zucchini) bread, but I wanted something that would be easier to serve in a potluck-style setting. So, then I thought about making some muffins instead of a loaf of bread. Somehow the muffins turned into cupcakes, carrots got added to the batter, and I decided to use the Nutella in the icing instead of in the cupcake. The results were fantastic – dense, moist chocolate cupcakes with creamy chocolate hazelnut icing.

From this recipe, I made 24 cupcakes plus two small individually portioned cakes for my hubby and I to have for dessert. If you prefer, the recipe will also yield two 9-inch cake layers (but baking time will vary).

Chocolate Carrot and Squash Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cup yellow squash (or zucchini), shredded
  • 1 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners, and set aside.

In one bowl, combine the wet ingredients – squash, carrots, eggs, canola oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Mix only until all of the dry ingredients are moistened – do not over mix.

Pour the prepared batter into the muffin tins, filling each cup approximately 3/4 full. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Nutella Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used reduced fat because that’s what I had on hand)
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of half and half

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, Nutella, and shortening. Beat on high until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Gradually add the powdered sugar, about one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a small amount of half and half (approximately one tablespoon) to adjust the consistency of the icing, if necessary.

Transfer the icing to a pastry bag and pipe a swirl of icing onto the top of each cupcake. I used a large star tip for my cupcakes.

Store the cupcakes in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This will help the icing to remain stiff, especially in the summer heat.

44 Responses to Eat Your Veggies… For Dessert!

  1. These are fantastic. I love that you added veg and got a cupcake that was so chocolaty. Gotta make these for anti-veg son! And the nutella frosting looks simply amazing! Yummy!

  2. I don’t know what I’ll be baking this week, but I do know that that Nutella cream cheese icing is going on top of it!

  3. Gorgeous cupcakes, and all of those veggies packed into it with NUTELLA frosting?? That is genius and looks/sounds delicious. Now, did I miss the Nutella challenge again? Wait..I’m thinking of Nutella the Nutella challenge a different dealypoo? :)

  4. Wow. I would never have thought to put all that together into a cupcake. You did and what a success! Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting – I’m going to do that.

  5. I usually don’t have a sweet tooth, but when I do, it comes at full force. And I know I can count on your site to satisfy that craving and gimme some ideas. This looks fantastic! I even have the same mini cupcake liners.

  6. If i use your icing recipe is it enough to ice two layer cake which is 8 inch? I need your reply as soon as possible. I want to make this. Anyway for the icing can i reduce the amount of sugar?

    • boyboy – Yes, the icing should be enough to ice a two layer cake. Typically, the amount of icing that I use to ice 24 cupcakes is enough to ice a two layer cake (8-9 inches). As for reducing the amount of sugar, I have not tried it myself. I generally add powdered sugar until the icing is my desired consistency. Since you will be icing a cake and not piping cupcakes, though, I imagine that you could add less sugar and have a slightly thinner, spreadable icing without any problems.

  7. Hey. Thanks a lot. Hope that my cake will turn out great since i baking it for my mum birthday. :)
    If i follow your icing recipe strictly is it very thick? Sorry for asking so many question

  8. boyboy – Yes, it is a fairly thick/stiff icing. I recommend starting with just the softened cream cheese, Nutella, and shortening. Then, gradually add sugar until the consistency is right. You can always add a bit of milk/half and half to thin it out if it gets too thicky and is hard to spread.

  9. […] Chocolate Carrot and Squash Cupcakes with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting var linkwithin_site_id = 32421; (function () { var elem = document.createElement('script'); elem.type = 'text/javascript'; elem.src = '' + Math.random(); document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0].appendChild(elem); })(); SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Frosting Cupcakes (WFMW)", url: "" }); Tags: baking, cupcake, frosting, icing, piping, tutorial, WFMW, Works For Me Wednesday « Previous Post […]

  10. Could you use butter instead of shortening in the recipe for the frosting? And will the frosting cover 24 cupcakes or two 9-inch layer cakes?

    • Jeanette – Yes, you can use butter instead of shortening for the frosting. I typically use some shortening in my frostings during the summer months because it stands up better to the heat. Yes, the frosting should cover 24 cupcakes or a two layer cake.

  11. Would it be possible to use whole wheat flour with these? If so, can I use the same amount? Or substitute 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 all purpose?

    • Anee – I have not personally tried making these with whole wheat flour. However, I would start with 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 all purpose to see how that goes. Also, white whole wheat flour is typically a better one-to-one substitution than traditional whole wheat flour.

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