Kid-friendly Five-Ingredient Romanian "Amandine" Cupcakes+Sweet Cream Frosting+Perfectly Plum Elixir Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Family Meal Plan: Five-Ingredient Romanian "Amandine" Cocoa Cupcakes + Sweet Cream Frosting + Perfectly Plum Elixir

Family Meal Plan: Five-Ingredient Romanian "Amandine" Cupcakes+Sweet Cream Frosting+Perfectly Plum Elixir

Five-Ingredient Romanian "Amandine" Cocoa Cupcakes + Sweet Cream Frosting + Perfectly Plum Elixir

by Dylan Sabuco, Erin Fletter
Photo by Dylan Sabuco
prep time
20 minutes
cook time
15 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Five-Ingredient Romanian "Amandine" Cocoa Cupcakes

Experience the wonderful world of Romanian desserts with our nut-free twist on the classic "amandine" cake! Traditionally a luscious, almond cream-filled treat, we've reimagined it into an equally delicious, nut-free cupcake. They're a snap to make with just five simple ingredients—cocoa powder, baking powder, flour, bananas, and sunflower seed butter. No sugar, butter, or eggs are needed! And they're perfect for small hands and short attention spans!

Enjoy them plain, or get creative with a dollop of Sweet Cream Frosting—it's your call! Pair these cupcakes with our refreshing Perfectly Plum Elixir for an extra special treat.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Shopping List

  • 2 bananas, as ripe as possible **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 plums
  • 2 T butter **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1/2 T milk **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1/2 C sunflower seed butter, like SunButter brand
  • 1 T cocoa powder **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 C all-purpose flour **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 can sparkling water, flavor is optional
  • 3 C water
  • ice, optional
  • paper cupcake liners

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • mash :

    to reduce food, like potatoes or bananas, to a soft, pulpy state by beating or pressure.

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • mix :

    to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until uniform in texture.

  • stir :

    to mix together two or more ingredients with a spoon or spatula, usually in a circle pattern, or figure eight, or in whatever direction you like!

  • whip :

    to beat food with a whisk or mixer to incorporate air and produce volume.

Equipment Checklist

  • Oven
  • Muffin pan
  • Paper cupcake liners
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Whisk
  • Potato masher or wooden spoon
  • Toothpicks or knife to test for doneness
  • Pitcher
  • Cutting board
  • Kid-safe knife
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring spoons


Five-Ingredient Romanian "Amandine" Cocoa Cupcakes

  • 2 bananas, as ripe as possible **(for BANANA ALLERGY sub 1 8-oz can crushed pineapple OR 1 C sweetened applesauce)**
  • 1/2 C sunflower seed butter, like SunButter brand
  • 1 T cocoa powder **(for CHOCOLATE ALLERGY sub carob powder)**
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**

Sweet Cream Frosting

  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 2 T butter, softened **(Omit for DAIRY ALLERGY)**
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor—check label)**
  • 1/2 T milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub orange juice)**

Perfectly Plum Elixir

  • 2 plums
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 3 C water
  • 1 can sparkling water, flavor is optional
  • ice, optional

Food Allergen Substitutions

Five-Ingredient Romanian "Amandine" Cocoa Cupcakes

  • Banana: For 2 bananas, substitute 1 8-oz can crushed pineapple OR 1 C sweetened applesauce.
  • Chocolate: Substitute carob powder for cocoa powder.
  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour.

Sweet Cream Frosting

  • Dairy: Omit butter and substitute orange juice for milk.
  • Gluten/Wheat: Use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor.


Five-Ingredient Romanian "Amandine" Cocoa Cupcakes


"Bună ziua" (BOON-ah ZEE-wah) or "Hello" in Romanian! "Amandine" describes a chocolatey Romanian cake often filled with chocolate mousse. The following recipe takes a simplified and healthier approach to the traditional recipe. You will replace a few things like butter, sugar, and eggs with bananas and sunflower seed butter. The texture will be more brownie-like than the traditional "amandine" recipe, but it will be just as tasty and way better for your body.


Preheat your oven to 375 F.

measure + mix

Measure 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 3/4 cup flour into a medium mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients with a whisk until well combined.

mash + stir

In a small mixing bowl, peel and mash 2 ripe bananas with 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter. Continue mashing until there are very few lumps. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredient mixture.

bake + cool

Pour the batter into lined muffin pan wells using a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop up the batter. Bake the cupcakes for 12 to 15 minutes or until they are fully baked and tested with a clean toothpick or knife. Cool for at least 5 minutes before adding frosting, or eat them plain for a tasty and healthy breakfast snack. "Poftă bună" (POHF-tah BOON-ah) or "Enjoy" (literally, "good appetite") in Romanian!

Sweet Cream Frosting

measure + add + whip

Measure and add 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 tablespoon milk to a mixing bowl. Whip until combined. Dollop each cupcake with a bit of Sweet Cream Frosting!

Perfectly Plum Elixir

measure + slice

Measure 1/2 cup sugar and pour into a pitcher. Then, roughly slice 2 plums, removing as much fruit as possible before discarding the pit. Add the plums to the sugar in the pitcher.

mash + stir

Mash the plums and sugar until a thick syrup forms. This is the plum syrup that will flavor the drink. Stir and mash as much as it takes to get the syrup to form.

pour + serve

Pour in 3 cups of water and 1 can of sparkling water. Stir a few times and serve! You can pour this one into cups as is or add ice. "Noroc'' (NO-rohk) or "Cheers'' in Romanian!

Surprise Ingredient: Chocolate + Cocoa!

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Photo by New Africa/

Hi! I'm Chocolate!

"Hello! Let me introduce myself! I can be dark brown, light brown, or even white. I'm sometimes bitter, sometimes a little sweet, and often very sweet. I add flavor and excitement to many other foods! Have you guessed yet? I'm Chocolate! You may be familiar with me from candy bars or chocolate sundaes, but I can liven up many other foods, too, including chili, butter, and milk!"


  • The cacao (kahKOW) tree is native to equatorial South America and the rainforests of Mesoamerica. It was first used 5,300 years ago by indigenous people in South America. Mesoamericans who lived in the rainforests of Mexico and Central America domesticated the tree about 1,500 years later. They drank chocolate as a bitter beverage—far from the sweet treat most of us are familiar with today. 
  • The Mayan people of Central and South America used cocoa as currency and as medicine: it was very valuable, just like vanilla! In fact, it was so precious that they made counterfeit cocoa beans out of clay and avocado seeds!
  • The Aztec people are a nomadic tribe in Northern Mexico. When the Aztec empire began to expand, they demanded that the Mayan people pay tribute to them through gifts of cacao. 
  • The Aztec people ruled until Spaniards arrived and conquered the land and its people. The Spanish explorers took cacao beans back to Europe, where they experimented by adding cinnamon and sugar to sweeten it. For a long time, only aristocratic people enjoyed chocolate.
  • Princess Maria Theresa married Louis the 16th from France and gave him chocolate as a wedding present! Demand for chocolate soon grew very fast, and as a result, people were enslaved on plantations to grow cacao to meet the high demand.
  • In 1847, Joseph Fry invented the first chocolate bar. By 1907, Hershey was manufacturing millions of chocolate kisses each day.  
  • Cacao trees grow best in the rainforest underneath the branches of taller trees. However, they won't bear fruit until they are at least three to five years old. 
  • Most early Spanish sources refer to chocolate as "cacahuatl" (cah-cah-Hwat), which translates to "cacao water."
  • The word chocolate comes from a combination of a Mayan word for hot, "chocol," and an Aztec word for water, "atl."

How Chocolate is Made

  • All chocolate comes from the beans of the cacao tree. Cacao trees produce pods containing pulp-covered seeds. Before cacao is processed, it would be hard for most of us to recognize it as chocolate! This is because the pulp-covered seeds taste bitter and raw and look nothing like the chocolate products we see in stores.
  • The seeds go through a process called fermentation, and then they are dried and made into nibs before being turned into chocolate. 
  • A cacao pod contains about 30 to 50 almond-sized seeds—enough to make about seven milk chocolate candy bars! 
  • After roasting and grinding cocoa beans, chocolate liquor is left, which is about equal parts cocoa solids and cocoa butter. After the cocoa butter is mostly extracted, the result is dry cocoa solids. Cocoa powder is the powdered form. Natural cocoa is a light brown color and tastes bitter. 

  • Dutch chemist Coenraad van Houten created the "Dutch process" method in the early 19th century to reduce the acidity in natural cocoa powder by treating the beans with alkaline salts. As a result, Dutch process cocoa is less bitter and has a dark brown color.

How to Enjoy Cocoa & Chocolate

  • You can add unsweetened cocoa to milk with sugar, honey, or stevia for a delicious and warming beverage. You can also add it to smoothies for a delicious chocolaty taste and an extra hit of magnesium and polyphenols. 
  • Chocolate comes in many forms: bars, kisses, chips, powder, shavings, puddings, syrups, and sauces.
  • Unconventional chocolate flavor pairings: cardamom, lavender, wasabi, chili, chipotle, sea salt, lime, matcha, curry, ginger, mint, figs, fennel, sesame, parmesan, and Earl Grey tea. Seriously, what doesn't go well with chocolate?! Can you think of any other fun and delicious pairings?


  • Dark chocolate helps protect your heart, blood, and brain! To get the full health benefits of chocolate, choose at least 85% cocoa content or higher. The higher percentage makes the chocolate more bitter, but those bitter compounds, called polyphenols, are antioxidants that provide several health benefits. Many people prefer very dark chocolate!
  • Polyphenols help prevent heart disease by maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, keeping vessels flexible and allowing the blood in our body to flow easier (good circulation), and reducing inflammation. In addition, they help control blood sugar levels, lower cancer risk, and boost immunity. Polyphenols also promote good digestion.  
  • Cocoa is a great source of magnesium. We need magnesium for good health! For strong bones, healthy teeth, and as a building block for proteins within the body.
  • Cocoa can protect our teeth?! Cacao contains antibacterial elements that fight tooth decay. However, this is true with unsweetened cocoa only, as most mass-produced chocolate has a lot of sugar. We know what sugar does to our teeth—it causes decay! 
  • One study has shown that the smell of chocolate may actually relax you by increasing theta waves in the brain!

What is Amandine Cake?

Photo by Felix Furo/
  • An "amandine" (or "amandinǎ") is a Romanian chocolate layer cake. It consists of a chocolate sponge moistened with a simple syrup traditionally made with sugar or honey, caramel, a hint of rum, and sometimes coffee. The filling is chocolate, caramel fondant cream, and occasionally almond cream. The cake is glazed with a chocolate fondant cream.
  • The amandine can be one large cake but is generally served as small, individual cakes. They are often seen in Romanian candy and pastry shops.

Let's Learn About Romania!

Photo by romeovip_md/ (little girl in traditional Romanian folk costume)
  • Romania is a country in Southeastern Europe. Ukraine is on its northeast border, Moldova is to the east, Hungary to the west, Serbia is southwest, Bulgaria is south, and the Black Sea is on its southwest border. 
  • Bucharest is the capital and largest city in Romania. The official language is Romanian. Several other European languages are also recognized in the country. 
  • Romania belongs to the European Union; however, its currency is still the Romanian "leu." They plan to adopt the "euro" in 2029. 
  • Romania's total area is 92,046 square miles, the 12th largest country in Europe. That is a little smaller than the state of Oregon. The population is over 19 million. 
  • The name "Romanians" refers to citizens of Romania and an ethnic group native to Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. The people of this ethnic group mostly live in Romania and Moldova and have a shared ancestry and culture. They speak Romanian, one of the Romance languages. 
  • Transylvania is a cultural and historical region in central Romania. It became famous as the setting for Bram Stoker's novel, "Dracula." Due to the book's popularity, the area became associated with vampires.
  • The geography of Romania has a mix of forests, hills, mountains, plains, and plateaus. The Carpathian Mountains go through its center, and Moldoveanu Peak is the highest at 8,346 feet.
  • The delta of the Danube River lies primarily in Romania, with a small portion in Ukraine. The Danube is the second-largest river in Europe. 
  • There are nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Romania. Five of these are cultural sites, and four are natural sites.
  • The country's economy is supported by agriculture, forestry, information technology, and construction, manufacturing, and service industries. 
  • Notable Romanians include poet, novelist, and journalist Mihai Eminescu; inventor and early airplane designer Traian Vuia; sculptor, painter, and photographer Constantin Brâncuși; music composer, professor, and violinist George Enescu; airplane builder, pilot, engineer, and inventor Aurel Vlaicu; and Olympic gymnast Nadia Comăneci.
  • Romania's cuisine has Austrian, Balkan, German, Greek, Turkish, and other European influences. Many dishes have pork as the meat, and cheese (or "brânză" in Romanian), especially from sheep's milk, is popular. 
  • "Sarmale," stuffed cabbage rolls, are considered the national dish. "Ciorbă," a soup with different varieties, is made of meat, vegetables, and herbs. "Mititei," also called "mici," are grilled ground meat rolls, like caseless sausages. "Salata de vinete" is a roasted eggplant salad served as an appetizer. A "cornuleț" is a crescent-shaped bread roll, sometimes filled with jam and dusted with powdered sugar. 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Romania? 

  • Families and traditions are important in the life of Romanian children. Kids may experience vast differences in education and opportunities depending on whether they live in urban (city) or rural (countryside) areas.  
  • Popular sports include football (soccer), basketball, tennis, gymnastics, handball, and swimming. Kids may also play "oinǎ," a ball and bat game similar to baseball.
  • For recreation or vacation, families may visit "Mamaia," a popular resort at a Black Sea beach. Ski resorts, castles, and preserved medieval Transylvanian cities are also popular attractions. Bran Castle is one of the most famous and is frequently publicized as Dracula's castle.
  • Snacks for Romanian kids may include "covrigi" or Romanian pretzels, "plăcintă," a traditional pastry, and "gogoși," a cheese, chocolate, or jam-filled doughnut. For dessert, "amandine," a chocolate cake with almond and chocolate filling, is well-liked.

Lettuce Joke Around

What did the plumber do when all his work dried up?

He became a pruner!

THYME for a Laugh

I love purple fruit!

I'm plum crazy about them!

The Yolk's On You

"Knock, knock!" 

"Who’s there?" 


"Imogen who?" 

"I can’t imogen life without chocolate!"

That's Berry Funny

"Knock, knock!"

"Who’s there?"

"Butter. Butter who?"

"I butter not tell you!"

THYME for a Laugh

Why did the students eat their homework? 

Because the teacher said that it was a piece of cake.

The Yolk's On You

What fruit wears a tutu?

The sugar plum fairy!

THYME for a Laugh

How do you take care of a plum tree?

Prune it!

Lettuce Joke Around

My friend hurt herself while making butter on her farm. 

It was an unfortunate churn of events.

THYME for a Laugh

What do you call people who like to drink hot chocolate all year long? 


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