Dolly’s Happy Birthday Cupcakes

Dolly's Happy Birthday Cupcakes by Eating with a Purpose

Confused by the title of this post?  Well, there is a story behind it.  This month’s Recipe Redux theme, “First Cooking Recollections,” inspired this recipe.  For those of you who know me well, it probably isn’t news to you that I have loved cooking since I was little.  I remember working alongside my Mom, who really taught me to feel comfortable following a recipe- and- how to fix one when things didn’t work out as planned.  My food science classes during my dietetics training really refined my ability to alter recipes and understand how ingredients will interact with one another.  My Mom has even noted that I have taught her a thing or two (a big feat in my eyes).  Long story short, these delicious pop-in-your-mouth chocolate cupcakes are one of my first memories with my Mom in my favorite place (the kitchen).  I “healthified” them, of course, for your eating pleasure!

Dolly's Happy Birthday Cupcakes by Eating with a Purpose

I’m sure you’re still wondering why they’re called “Dolly’s” cupcakes.  I also happened to love dolls growing up- porcelain dolls, Barbie dolls, you name it.  The American Girls Collection took things to the next level, and to this day may have been my first connection to this country I now reside in.  Occasionally, I would decide it was my dolls’ birthday and insist on throwing them a party.  My Mom would help me to make these mini cupcakes, and we would enjoy them alongside the dolls.  The original recipe includes chocolate Rosettes- you may know what I am talking about.  I loved putting a Rosette atop each warm cupcake and watch them melt to form an icing.  For this recipe, I used pure milk chocolate chips (less artificial stuff and easier to source).

This new and improved version has no added sugar (except for the 3 chocolate chips atop each cake) and is rather light on the oil.  Not to worry- the addition of hot coffee makes them very moist!  I hope to someday share this recipe with my daughter.  Until, then my husband will suffice 🙂 (he ate the whole batch).

Dolly's Happy Birthday Cupcakes by Eating with a Purpose

Dolly's Happy Birthday Cupcakes by Eating with a Purpose


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk*
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hot coffee
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

* If you’re like me and never have buttermilk on hand, put 1½ tsp. of vinegar or lemon juice in a glass measuring cup and fill with milk to the ½ cup line.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place dates in a small bowl and pour coffee over top.  Allow to sit for while you prepare the recipe (a minimum of 15 minutes).
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder and salt.
  4. In another mixing bowl, beat together buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla.
  5. Place date mixture in a small food processor or powerful blender.  Blend until a smooth puree forms.
  6. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry.  Add date puree and beat until mixture is fully combined.
  7. Scoop batter into paper lined mini muffin pans.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until a cake tester insert comes out clean.  Do not overcook!
  8. As soon as cakes are out of the oven, place 3 chocolate chips atop each.  If desired, you can use a knife after 10 minutes to spread the chocolate over the cakes, or simply leave the chips untouched.  I’ve done it both ways.
  9. Grab some dolls and have a tea party!

Dolly's Happy Birthday Cupcakes by Eating with a Purpose

Dolly's Happy Birthday Cupcakes by Eating with a Purpose

Lauren is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who finds relaxation amongst pots, pans and good ingredients. From an early age, Lauren grew up cooking alongside her mother, Angela. After finishing a Bachelor of Science degree, Lauren realized she wanted to integrate her love for food and cooking into her career and went back to school to become a Registered Dietitian.

After completing a primarily pediatric internship in Vancouver, Canada, Lauren’s personal life led her to the Southern United States. Lauren is now soaking up the cultural and culinary flavors of New Orleans in her time off from practicing in a local pediatric clinic. Lauren has a special interest for educating children and adolescents on not only eating healthy, but also learning the skills to prepare healthy food. Prior to becoming a dietitian, Lauren led a children’s after school cooking camp and continues to enjoy educating children and their parents in her current work setting.

9 thoughts on “Dolly’s Happy Birthday Cupcakes

  1. I always wanted an American Girl Doll when I was a kid – they only had the catalog back then (I’m showing my age!). I think I was more excited than my girls when they got their first American Girls and we went to the store itself! I digress! These cupcakes look delicious and I love the idea of just putting the chocolate chips on top when they come out of the oven and letting them melt!

  2. That’s so cute about the dolls! I loved the American Girl books, and I had many tea parties with my Samantha doll. These cupcakes looks delicious– I’m sure they made your dolls’ birthdays amazing! 🙂

    • I loved the books too- as a Canadian they actually taught me a great deal about American history 🙂 It was a big decision for me to decide between Samantha and Kirsten- but I ended up with Kirsten.

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