Lemon and Honey Cupcakes

I have absolutely no interest in eating something just because it is 'good' for me but takes weird, tacky or dry, or otherwise off.  So if I make a healthy substitution for a traditional ingredient, it had better carry its weight in terms of taste and texture.  Otherwise, I either go without or go back to the drawing board - and if it is something I love I will go back to the drawing board as many times as it takes to get it right.

Oh, these cupcakes are good.  They boast gluten-free, protein rich quinoa flour, yogurt, honey, and loads of lemon.  The frosting is fluffy and sweet and has no white sugar.  This cupcake lover (and the kids) scarfed down the lot.

For the frosting:

8 ozs. cream cheese, at room temperature

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1/3 cup honey

1/2 vanilla bean

For the cupcakes:

1/2 cup whole Greek yogurt, strained for 30 minutes in cheesecloth

1/2 cup coconut oil or canola oil

3/4 cup honey

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract

2 tablespoons lemon zest

2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk

1/2 cup plus one tablespoon plain Kefir

2 cups Quinoa flour

2 teaspoons sodium free or regular baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sodium free baking soda, or 1/4 teaspoon regular baking soda

pinch fine Kosher salt

Extra lemon zest (for garnish)

Step One: Make the Frosting 

1.  Beat the cream cheese until fluffy in a standing mixer or with a hand mixer for 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Mix in the butter and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest.  Split the 1/2 vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape in the seeds.  Then beat for another 1 to 2 minutes until fluffy again.  Finally beat in the honey until combined.  

3.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Step Two:  Make the Cupcakes

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  

2. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the strained yogurt, oil, honey, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon extract until smooth.  

4.  Whisk in the eggs and egg yolk, then the kefir, until smooth.

5.  In a large bowl whisk together the Quinoa flour, baking powder, baking soda, and pinch of salt.  Then fold in the wet ingredients with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula and mix until you have a smooth batter.  Be careful not to mix so much that you create a bunch of bubbles in the batter.

6.  Fill each muffin tin cup about 3/4 of the cup full so that the batter is divided evenly.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cupcakes are pale brown and springy.  Cool on wire racks for at least one hour before you frost.

7.  Frost each cupcake to your liking and sprinkle with the extra lemon zest.  Serve right away or you can store these sealed up in the fridge for 2-3 days.