Today, is my friend Lauren’s (different Lauren) birthday. Naturally, I felt that this was a calling to bake something sugar-free (I mean, isn’t everything an excuse?). A few days ago, I asked her what kind of cake flavors she likes and she told me that carrot cake is her favorite. Now, carrot cake is not a favorite of mine. I would never have decided on my own to order it, buy it, or make it – and I can safely say I never have made carrot cake. However, I accepted this as a challenge – both in the sugar-free sense and in the “make a carrot cake I can love” sense.
I succeeded. Bigtime.
Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Cupcakes
makes about 2 dozen cupcakes
- 4 cups shredded carrots (no need to labor over grating – just buy a bag of shredded carrots!)
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups honey (I used slightly less)
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp coconut extract
- 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup unsweetened crushed pineapple
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 3 1/8 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8-1/4 tsp (to taste) ground cloves
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Spray 2 muffin tins with non-stick baking spray (I used Pam for Baking).
Before you do anything else, spread the walnuts and pecans out on a baking sheet and toast for about five minutes (be careful not to burn them!).
Set the nuts aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, honey, canola oil, apple sauce, vanilla extract, coconut extract, shredded coconut and crushed pineapple.
Whisk until combined. Add shredded carrots and toasted nuts.
Whisk again until evenly combined.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
Stir or whisk until combined.
Add flour mixture to wet mixture and stir together until well combined.
Distribute the batter evenly into the muffin cups, filling them to about 3/4 full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 (it will most likely be closer to 20 – honey browns quickly!) minutes. Test a few cupcake centers with a toothpick – they’re done if the toothpick comes out clean.
Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack (not that I have one of those, but I should).
(I also didn’t let them cool completely. Whoops! I’m impatient. Just ask Claire, who had come over and kept laughing at me as I burned myself and melted frosting.).
Lightened Cream Cheese Frosting
makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes (and then some)
- 1 cup light, unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup light cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat Philly)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/4 cups Splenda
- 2 tbs unsweetened almond milk (though, really, I think I could have done without)
Using an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese for one minute. Scrape the bowl down and add the butter. Beat for 1-2 minutes or until evenly combined.
Add the salt and vanilla extract. Beat until completely incorporated.
Add the Splenda in increments, beating at a low speed until incorporated. Intersperse with the almond milk if desired.
And finally… devour your cupcake!
They’re good – really good… and this is coming from a former carrot cake skeptic! I especially liked them cold the next day. Then again, I kind of like all cake best when served cold.