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Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes

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Chances are…

chocolate mayo cupcakes

Chances are, you took one look at the title of this post and you…

RAN THE OTHER WAY.

I know these cupcakes sound crazy, but they are also crazy good. The unexpected secret ingredient keeps them soft, light, and super fudgey, without any added oil. They taste almost like a brownie in the shape of a cupcake, and they’re so rich they don’t even need any frosting!

chocolate mayo cupcakes
chocolate cupcakes

Using mayonnaise to add depth and flavor to cakes is hardly a new concept. The idea is much older than me, and it’s probably older than most of you as well. Also known as Wacky Cakes or Chocolate Depression Cakes, the origin of mayonnaise cakes can be traced back to the Great Depression, when ingredients such as butter, eggs, and milk were scarce, which forced bakers to get creative.

Today I’m posting a healthier cupcake adaptation of my grandmother’s popular Wacky Cake recipe. (Her version of the classic cake is most likely similar to other versions you’ll find either online or passed down from generation to generation in your own families.)

I’ve played around with the original recipe’s ingredient proportions in order to cut back on the sugar while still maintaining a delicate and fluffy texture—these rich and decadent cupcakes turned out so much better than I’d even hoped.

Instead of frosting, I topped them with Healthy Nutella.

They’re also delicious without any frosting at all!

mayonnaise cupcakes

Why the recipe works:

Vinegar reacts with the baking soda, which forms bubbles and thus makes the cupcakes rise, without needing any eggs. Just be sure to follow the recipe instructions and bake immediately after pouring wet into dry, as the vinegar reaction begins as soon as the two ingredients meet. You’ll find vinegar in many of my recipes, such as Eggy Breakfast Bread or the Chocolate-Chip Biscuits, as it’s a trick I often employ for light, fluffy baked goods.

In this particular recipe, the vinegar present in the mayonnaise is what reacts with the baking soda. I can vouch for the recipe working with Vegenaise (low-fat or regular) as well as Earth Balance Mindful Mayo. If you want to use a homemade mayo-type spread: although I can’t vouch for every single homemade mayo spread out there, it should work as long as your mayo spread includes vinegar (or lemon juice) and a fat source such as oil or cashews. If you are using a homemade mayo-type spread, I highly recommend omitting any onion powder and mustard that might be called for in your recipe!

mayonnaise cupcakes

 Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes

(or Devil’s Food Cupcakes)

  • 1/2 cup spelt or all-purpose flour (65g) (Arrowhead Mills gf also works.)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder (15g) (not Dutch)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup xylitol or sugar of choice (90g)
  • 1/4 cup mayo-style spread, such as Vegenaise (See above paragraph for other brands that work.) (58g)
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp water (95g)

Preheat oven to 350 F and place 6 cupcake liners inside a muffin pan. In a large bowl, combine first five ingredients and sift very well. In a separate bowl, combine remaining three ingredients and whisk until the mayo is completely smooth. Now pour wet into dry and stir until just combined. Immediately divide among the cupcake liners—it won’t seem like a lot of filling, but these cupcakes rise a lot!  Bake 21 minutes, then let sit 15 minutes before removing from the pan. These taste ten times more fudgey and rich the next day, so bake the day before eating if possible. Store in the fridge. (Cupcakes in the photos are frosted with my healthy Nutella recipe linked below the second photo on this page.)

View Chocolate Cupcakes Nutrition Facts

chocolate cupcakes

Are you brave enough to try them?

Or have you ever tried using mayonnaise in baked goods before? Honestly, I think this might be the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten!

Link of the Day:

coconut shake

…….Vanilla Chai Breakfast Shake

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 
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  1. So weird how baking chemistry works sometimes. I just monkeyed with a recipe yesterday using straight-up vinegar in chocolate cupcakes– looks like our minds were in the same place. I’d heard of using mayo before, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried it. I’ll have to give it a go now!

  2. I tried your healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe last week. Everyone in my house including my picky eater daughter loved them! I will be making them again this week.

    I will try these cupcakes soon!

  3. I did not they’ve been use mayo for that long! I just put it in stuff because it’s second best to replace cheese and or butter in recipes. Great minds think alike and forever apparently!

    I’ll give these a shot for sure!

  4. Barb says:

    I’m sure you are right and these taste delicious, but I can not look or smell mayo without getting seriously sick to my stomach, so I won’t be able to try them. Also, I’d probably gag eating them, even if you couldn’t taste the mayo at all! Sad, but this is one recipe of yours that i will probably never try (although I have enough of your other recipes to keep me occupied 🙂 )

    1. Amber @ Slim Pickin's Kitchen says:

      A to the men, sista! I couldn’t agree more!

      1. You’ll just need someone to secretly make these for you!

  5. Rachel says:

    I used to work at Macaroni Grill, and their chocolate cake actually has mayo in it, and it’s SO moist and delicious. Of course, it also has 990 calories and 56g fat per serving…

    Looking forward to trying this recipe!

  6. I’m definitely brave enough to try these. They look sooo good! 🙂

  7. Lisa says:

    Oh man, I’ve never heard of mayo cupcakes before. Very interesting. They look very good! And I definitely find that strange combos usually turn out really well!

  8. Joy @ Caspara says:

    Well, I didn’t run the other way!! I thought about what time would be “too early for cupcakes.” Never, right?!

  9. Abby says:

    I’m not sure if I want to try this! But, I will be brave, soon, when I have the courage, I will try this out! ( I do have to say, this cupcake looks amazing, I know the photos always fool me, but I met it tastes better then I think 😉

  10. L. says:

    I used to make (non-vegan) baked goods with mayo when I ran out of eggs. They taste nice and moist, and I can’t wait to try this recipe.

  11. JennyBakes says:

    When I was in highschool, I went on a mission trip with an org that brought its own food wherever it went… They used mayo with cake mix instead of eggs and oil, pretty thrifty eh?

    1. Marta says:

      Thanks Jenny, I was actually wondering if you could try it with cake mix and came across your post. I was having a small dilemma with myself in regard to eggs being necessary if I actually used the mayo! Thanks again. I’m going to try this.

  12. Sara says:

    After putting beans and avocado and spinach and baby food and other “crazy” things in baked goods, mayo seems to be on the normal side as far as baked goods go 🙂

    1. Rachel says:

      Lol Sara! I was thinking the same thing!

  13. I can’t stand mayo, but I ADORE chocolate cakes that contain the stuff! Proof that chocolate saves all, perhaps? I’m sure these are insanely moist (courtesy of our friend mayonaise). Also, LOVE that you topped them with healthy nutella. Can I come over and eat up all of your leftovers (if you have any)? 😉

    1. Leftovers? And chocolate? In the same sentence? That only works if you put the word “no” before one of the two. 🙂

  14. Wow! How cool! Thanks for the super-duper science lesson, Katie! Vinegar and baking soda – like in a baking soda volcano! Haha!
    Also, my mom and I made the world’s healthiest tater tots yesterday. They are wonderful! It is so good to know that everything in them is so good for you! Thanks again, Katie!

    -Claire Elizabeth

  15. trajayjay says:

    yeah, i was pretty grossed out by seeing the word mayonnaise next to chocolate cupcake. But now that I think about it, I don’t see why not. Mayonnaise is mostly eggwhite and oil, two common ingredients in cakes, and as you said, the vinegar reacts with baking soda to make the cakes rise. Maybe it’s because people use mayonnaise in savory, not sweet dishes. It’s kind of like avocado frosting or black bean brownies, or cauliflower cake. I think that’s why i was a little turned off.

    Interesting comment about the vinegar. I learned in my culinary class that cooking was an art while baking was a science!

  16. Erika says:

    My family makes Miracle Whip chocolate cake and it’s super yummy and moist. So, for any of you non-vegans out there, Miracle Whip would probably work too, although I haven’t tried it in this particular recipe. Also, funny timing on this one, as my son’s science project this year is on the effects of varying the amounts of baking powder in a recipe; yea for food science.

  17. Hey Katie I love your recipes they’re really inspiring 🙂

    If you get the time, check out http://www.healthyrevelations.wordpress.com, there’s a lot of healthy recipe ideas I think you’d really like

    Keep doing what you do best!

  18. Amy says:

    Of course I would try these…..they look so decadent!!!!!!!!! I have already tried your desserts that call for white beans (delicious!!!!) also I was brand new to tofu and made your chocolate bar pie numerous times (equally delicious!!!!) The bottom line is you just can’t be afraid to try something just because it sounds unconventional. If the recipe comes from Katie I know it’s going to be great!!!!!

  19. Andrea B. says:

    This is going to sound quite immature but I just can’t get over the photocropping of the 4th picture.

    Reduced-fat Vegena.
    Because nobody wants a fat Veg-jayjay.

    1. Courtney says:

      Thanks for making me burst out laughing in my office.

    2. Amber @ Slim Pickin's Kitchen says:

      BWAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!