Guilt-Free Black Forest Cupcakes



My mother-in-law once shared a cute story with me from her childhood, describing the time when she thoughtfully purchased chocolate covered cherries as a gift for her sister. On her walk back from the store, she kept peering in at the temptation and finally gave in to taste one…then two…

then three…until she presented her sibling with a more-than-half-eaten box of sweets.

I found this so endearing (and relatable!) that ever since then, I’ve made some variation of her favorite chocolate cherry dessert every year–one that she can enjoy without feeling guilty that it’s really for someone else.

This past weekend, my in-laws came over for dinner to celebrate her birthday so I made my chicken meatball, black eyed pea and kale soup and cajun rice with pan-fried chicken (using the same preparation as my yummy breaded tilapia!). When it came time to figure out a cake, I decided this would be a great opportunity to listen to your requests for some slimmer options, while tackling both guilt-free challenges.

I remember whipping up a recipe for diet soda cake many years ago (I believe it was originally introduced by Weight Watchers), and decided to revisit the idea with my own little twist. So I picked up a box of dark chocolate cake mix and a bottle of Cherry Coca Cola Zero for my black forest combination. I stirred the two together, and filled my cupcake tins using my handy-dandy ice cream scooper (of course!). About 15 minutes later I had a moist, delicate confection waiting for me.

Just like my pumpkin spice muffin top cookies, these don’t need a very long baking time because there are no raw eggs in the batter. (Which also means you can happily lick the spoon without any worries!)

To give them a little more pizzaz, I cut a small hole in the center of each and filled them with about a teaspoon of light cherry pie filling. For next to nothing in calorie content, this added a fun surprise in the center, providing that extra element of indulgence we all look for in desserts.

Then came time for frosting, aka the one part of the cupcake that reminds us it’s not a muffin. I actually looked for the new line of Cool Whip frostings in my grocery store, but sadly it was to no avail. Instead, I dolloped two tablespoons of the original fluffy white stuff on top of each fudgy treat, and finished them off with chocolate sprinkles and a cherry on top.

According to their website, these are 2 Weight Watchers points, and based upon my calculations, the portions I used of Cool Whip, sprinkles and cherries add no additional points if you only eat one cupcake.

They look like little sundae delights, taste decadent and sweet, yet won’t cost you your healthy eating goals. Well, if you stop after just one anyway…


*Makes 12 cupcakes*

1 box dark chocolate cake mix

12 oz. diet cherry soda

About 1/4 cup light cherry pie filling

1 1/2 cups nonfat cool whip (thawed in fridge if previously frozen)

1/4 cup chocolate sprinkles


Preheat oven to 350° and empty cake mix into a bowl.


Use a can of diet soda, or measure 1 1/2 cups. (Be sure you measure after the foam has gone down!)


Pour soda into cake mix.


Mix to incorporate.


Spray your muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.


Spoon two ice cream scoops of batter into each tin.


Bake about 15 minutes, or until the toothpick in the center comes out clean.


Using a pairing knife, poke a small hole in the center of each cooled cupcake.


Fill each hole with a teaspoon of cherry pie filling–about two whole cherries per cupcake.


Some will sink in and the rest will sit on top of the cupcake.


Dollop each treat with 2 tablespoons of Cool Whip.


Add one cherry from your pie filling to the center of each whipped cream mound.


Top with 1 teaspoon each of chocolate sprinkles.


Eat and enjoy not having to share with your siblings!



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