But February is also American Heart Month. This month (not surprisingly!) is dedicated to raising funds as well as awareness for heart disease and stroke. I never really paid much attention to Heart Month in previous years. Unfortunately, this year, it has hit much closer to home. A dear family friend, Sue Smith, passed away February 2nd, due to a combination of an enlarge heart and diabetes. Sue was a lovely woman who worked at our church, Alpine, for years. She was always at the front door of the church to greet new-comers with her warming smile, and always eager to make anyone and everyone feel at home. Sue's death came as a complete shock to all of her loved ones and friends, she was only in her 50's, and seemed in good health. Sue always read my blog and supported and encouraged me with my cooking and baking over the past years.
To pay homage to Valentine's Day and American Heart Month, I made healthier cupcakes. I used low-fat ricotta cheese instead of fatty butter for the cupcakes, which are only 95 calories each and contain less than 1 gram of fat. The glaze is made with fat free cream cheese, to avoid unnecessary fat and calories. The cake is sort of like red velvet. Actually, it started as vanilla bean cupcakes, one of my very first posts, then I added red food coloring and a hint of cocoa. This recipe for heart- healthy cupcakes is in memory of Sue, I think she would've loved these!
Makes about 16
1/2 cup minus 1 1/2 teaspoon low-fat milk (2%, 1%, skim)
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
2 egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon red color
4 oz fat-free cream cheese
3 drops red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar (about 2 cups)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake tins with cupcake liners or use silcone cupcake molds. Lightly spray with cooking spray.
Slice open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Place the seeds and bean into the milk, set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together ricotta cheese and sugar. Add egg and egg whites, beating after each. In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking powder, cocoa and pinch of salt. Slowly add to the ricotta mixture until completely combined. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk, squeeze out any moisture and discard. Add vanilla extract and food coloring to milk. Add milk to batter and mix until combined. Scoop batter into cupcake liners, bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops have a rounded top, and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from tins and cool.
To prepare the glaze: Use a whisk to cream cream cheese with the food coloring and vanilla extract. Mix in enough powdered sugar to make a glaze. Simply dip the tops of the cupcakes into the glaze, or drizzle over for a more dramatic look. Enjoy!