Tuesday, April 30, 2013

healthy carrot cake cupcakes with maple-cream cheese frosting

i like taking traditional recipes and making them a bit healthier but still delicious.  i confess that i have lost my taste for overly sweet desserts...i just don't feel good after eating them.  so today i decided to tackle one of my favorites...carrot cake.

the concept of carrot cake sounds like it must be healthy right?  after all there are carrots in the dessert. CARROTS ARE HEALTHY!! sadly, the good from the carrots is a bit outweighed by all the white flour, white sugar, butter, oil and powdered sugar (in the frosting).  what if we used some whole wheat flour, reduced the amount of sugar and substituted coconut sugar for the granulated, used a vegetable spread instead of butter, and sweetened the frosting with 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup instead of 4 cups of confectioner's sugar?  maybe lowered the fat content a bit with neufch√Ętel instead of regular cream cheese?(tastes the same but 33% lower fat content).  

the result would be a light, airy, less sweet version of carrot cake. skip the frosting and the cupcakes make  wonderful breakfast muffins.  i really like this frosting.  without the usual confectioner's sugar, the cream cheese is is tangy, light and only slightly sweet.  the maple syrup adds delicious taste but does not overwhelm the cake.

this is "kid-friendly" week at food network.  i love the idea of providing less sweet desserts for children so their taste buds are not developed to expect super sweet, sugary foods.  how wonderful it would be if we did not raise our kids with soda, fast foods and an abundance of white flour & sugar.  maybe we could tackle the obesity issue in this country once and for all.  an ambitious goal?  you bet...but small steps (like these cupcakes) may help.  what do you think?

healthy carrot cake cupcakes with maple-cream cheese frosting
(makes 12 cupcakes)
1 cup organic white all purpose flour
1 cup organic white-whole wheat flour*
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/ 2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/ 2 cup vegetable spread (i use earth balance brand)
3/4 cup coconut sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp organic tahitian vanilla extract
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 cups shredded organic carrots
3/4 cup flaked coconut (unsweetened)

frosting
8 oz neufchatel cream cheese
1/4 cup vegetable spread (i use earth balance brand)
1 tsp  organic tahitian vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

preheat oven to 350 degrees. grease a cupcake muffin tin.  place a paper cupcake liner in each space and coat with cooking spray.  set aside.

combine flours, salt, baking powder and spices in medium bowl. set aside.  using a stand mixer at medium speed, cream vegetable spread until light and fluffy. (about 1 minute)  add coconut sugar and one egg, beat for 3 minutes.  add second egg and vanilla,  beat until well mixed.  lower mixer speed to low and  add half the flour mixture and half the coconut milk, beat until just combined.  add remaining flour and milk and beat until combined, do not over mix.  add carrots and coconut and mix for just a second or two...just until combined.

fill each cupcake liner with 1/4 cup of batter.  (i use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop up the batter and pour into each liner).  bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.  turn cupcakes onto a rack and cool 10 minutes. spread frosting onto cupcakes and sprinkle with nuts.  

frosting directions
using a clean mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, vegetable spread and vanilla until light and fluffy. beat in 2 tbsp maple syrup.  taste and add an additional tbsp syrup if you want it a bit sweeter.


* i love unbleached white whole wheat flour, whole wheat which has been milled from the lightest wheat kernels...so light they are almost white. contains all the fiber and nutrients of regular whole wheat but lighter in color and taste. note...this is not white flour...the color is light brown when baked. i like the king arthur brand*



it is "kid friendly" week at food network's "sensational sides mixed with spring produce". check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends:
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Easy Stir-Fry Green Beans
The Cultural Dish: Authentically Homemade Guacamole
Devour: Kid-Friendly Baked Ziti
Domesticate Me: Skillet Cornbread
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Healthy Carrot Cake Cupcakes With Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Red or Green? Spicy Chickpea Burgers With Cabbage Slaw
The Heritage Cook: Duck Fat Fries, a Kid's Favorite Snack! Virtually Homemade: Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
FN Dish: Kid-Friendly Veggie Sides

best,
diane
napa farmhouse 1885
red or green?
california girl in taos

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4 comments:

Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook said...

Fantastic choice - I love the combination of carrot cake and maple frosting!

Phoebe and Cara, The Quarter-Life Cooks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeanette said...

I love the idea of a healthier carrot cake cupcake - I don't like overly sweet desserts and try to make healthier renditions of favorites for my kids - this sounds terrific!

diane padoven said...

thanks jane and jeanette. i really like the frosting without all the usual powdered sugar. makes such a difference from the overly sweet version.