Let's get something straight right off the bat…this has not become, nor shall it ever be, a diet blog. However, if I find a really good recipe that takes some of the guilt out of dessert, I feel it's my responsibility to share it. This, my friends, is one of those times. The only reason I actually tried the recipe in the first place is because I found it in an issue of Cook's Country. (I've told you - I swear by Cook's Illustrated & Cook's Country! I haven't gotten a bad recipe from them yet!) Obviously, to trim down the cake, some concessions had to be made – the nuts and raisins, for instance. And by replacing the butter in the frosting with marshmallow creme, you wind up with a thick, rich frosting, without adding extra fat. Their frosting recipe called for vanilla, but since I know from experience (from my glazed carrots recipe) that Southern Comfort goes quite nicely with carrots, I decided to use that instead of vanilla. So, here we go…a healthier version of carrot cake (about half the calories and one-third of the fat of a traditional one!!!) that still tastes just as naughty….
Cook's Country Slimmed-Down Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 (4-ounce) jar carrot baby food (yes, I said baby food. Make sure it's just carrots & water for ingredients)
- 1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 pound carrots, peeled & shredded (use the large holes of a box grater or food processor)
- 8 ounces Neufchâtel cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup marshmallow creme (Fluff or Kraft Jet-Puffed)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract (or Southern Comfort!!)
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350° and adjust rack to the middle position. Lightly grease a 13" X 9" baking pan with cooking spray and line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment.
Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves & salt together in a large bowl. With electric mixer on medium speed, beat eggs, baby food & sugar until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. With mixer still running, slowly add oil. Mix until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients in 2 additions, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Mix until batter is nearly smooth. Fold in carrots.
Spread batter in prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 24-28 minutes. Rotate pan halfway through cooking time. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and remove parchment paper. Re-invert cake and cool on rack right-side up until completely cool, about 2 hours.
With mixer on medium-high, beat together cream cheese, marshmallow creme and vanilla. Sift powdered sugar over the mixture and beat on low about 1 minute, until mixture is smooth. Frost cake when it's completely cool.
Just so you can see the numbers for yourself…
Traditional Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (per serving) Calories 530; Fat 33g; Saturated Fat 8 g
Cook's Country Slimmed-Down Version (per serving) Calories 280; Fat 11g; Saturated Fat 3 g