Joyful Heart Chocolate Mini-Cakes


This recipe was created by Bethenny Frankel for actress Mariska Hargitay, named for Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation. The “Joyful Heart” in the title is a cute play on words, as this recipe is relatively healthy for your heart – very little fat, no wheat flour, vegan, and gluten-free (as long as your oat flour and chocolate chips are certified as such). We tested this recipe with regular chocolate chips, so the flavor and texture reviews are for a slightly non-vegan version.

My kids loved these and were thrilled to eat the leftovers for an after-school snack the following day. The adults were less enthusiastic, but we still enjoyed them. For such a low-fat and lower-sugar dessert, it was awfully good. The original recipe calls it a “muffin,” which I think is a misnomer. The consistency is a bit gooey. When they are fresh out of the oven, it’s like eating a chocolate lava cake. (A tiny scoop of salted caramel gelato on top would be lovely. And would sort of defeat the purpose, but I digress . . . ). So I changed the name to reflect this consistency, as I think that the expectation of a muffin led to some of the disappointment with this recipe.

We will definitely make these again. I plan to make some of them in mini-muffin tins to see whether the smaller size will give us a firmer product that we could use for school snacks. I’ll let you know!


  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 3/4 cup oat flour (you can make this in the food processor using old-fashioned oats, but I’ve not had much luck doing this. My food processor just won’t create a fine enough consistency. I found oat flour for a decent price at Woodman’s)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (use vegan and/or dairy-free chips if those distinctions are important to you).


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place 8 cupcake liners into a muffin pan.
  2. Combine applesauce, oil, sugar, and extracts in one bowl.
  3. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and espresso powder in a separate bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Divide batter among the 8 cupcake liners.
  7. Bake 25-35 minutes, turning the pan after about 15 min. The cakes are finished when the tops are firm to the touch.
  8. Serve warm.

Source: Minimally adapted from Bethenny Frankel’s recipe published in the March 2008 issue of Health Magazine


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