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Feb 6, 2011 12:39 PM

In need of a healthy take on carrot cake!

I somehow got volunteered to make our boss a carrot cake for her birthday this Thursday. This is her absolute favorite kind, but I have never made any kind of carrot cake before.

This is compounded by the fact that the boss lady is watching her caloric intake.

I pretty much decided that the cream cheese frosting is out and that I will cook the cake in a bunt pan and make a simple sugar glaze to put over it. But I still need a recipe! I did some poking around on the internet and seen recipes call for a ton of eggs or for lots of butter.

Anyone know of a tasty carrot cake recipe that I could spin as "healthy"?

Other details:
- Boss hates chocolate.
- I only have a Walmart near me to shop at.

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      1. I've made this recipe with some alterations--cut the cinnamon to one teaspoon, and also add 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. ground cloves. You can also substitute egg beaters for the eggs, if you want to reduce the cholesterol. It's better with eggs, since it's already somewhat lean other than the cream cheese in the frosting. But, three ounces of cream cheese and a quarter cup of cream between this many servings is better than most carrot cake recipes, as far as calorie and cholesterol. It's quirky that a dieter would want carrot cake, which is one of the most heinous of all cakes, but hey, she's the boss, right?

        4 Replies
        1. re: amyzan

          I'm curious why you say carrot cake is "one of the most heinous of all cakes," amyzan. Because of the typical cream cheese frosting? Or perhaps because of the usual oil content? I find the latter an issue - carrot cakes often taste heavy and oily to me - but it is not too hard to alter. In the case of the recipe you linked, for the OP, I would reduce the oil to 1/2 cup and the sugar to 1 cup, and add 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, and use whole eggs. A simple lemon glaze would be nice, in place o the cream cheese.

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            This is funny, Caitlin! Seriously, carrot cake along with maybe german chocolate and well, of course, cheesecake, are some of the higher calorie cake choices. Am I in left field here? They have more fat and calories than most butter cakes, with the oil and nuts and butter/cream cheese frosting, and are often heavily frosted with more toasted walnuts pressed into the sides to boot. That, and the fact that they're often served in large wedges, well, yeah, that ranks as heinous for a dieter, IMO.

            1. re: amyzan

              As I said, I was curious about your criteria; I wasn't disagreeing that carrot cake is high in calories as usually served, with lots of cream cheese-butter frosting, nuts, etc., and recipes that have enough oil to make them heavy and greasy feeling to me, in a way that butter cakes and many others made with oil do not.

            2. re: Caitlin McGrath

              Agreed. Carrot cake is usually one of the worst offenders in terms of fat content, but a lot of it is unnecessary. I find it turns out better with less oil and sugar.

          2. Why not just make the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting? The birthday girl might in fact consider the cream cheese frosting the best part. Maybe she would rather not have other people be her food police and she can choose just how much cake she wants to eat on her birthday. It's just one day :)

            3 Replies
            1. re: escondido123

              I agree with you, that is my own personal philosophy regarding birthday treats. Alas, I am not the decision maker on this. The conversation with the rest of my department went sort of like:

              Co-worker A: Her favorite cake is carrot cake
              Co-worker B: We should get her one!
              Co-worker A: But she's on a diet.. she's always on a diet. Could we get one that's healthier?
              Me: You'd have to make one.
              Co-worker A: You could do it!
              Me: I've never made a carrot cake before..
              Co-worker A: you're a good baker! Come on, you can do it.
              Me: ..I can try.

              1. re: escondido123

                When I want to make something healthy, I keep the fat and cut the sugar and starches. In my case, that means baking with carbalose flour, a mixture of liquid sucralose and granulated xylitol for sweetening.

                1. re: mcf

                  Yeah, of course it depends on what kind of diet the boss is on, too. If she were a low carber, this would be considerate and thoughtful.

              2. Hi all,

                Just make a normal carrot cake - butter or oil, whole eggs and all. Baked the regular way, in a 9 X 13 pan.

                Cream cheese frosting on top. At least 1/4" thick. Far as I'm concerned, if it doesn't have cream cheese frosting it's not carrot cake.

                If Ms. Boss is watching her calories she can take a smaller piece. Or not...

                I agree with escondido... It's her birthday! She wants carrot cake, make it for her!

                (I'd put in a smiley here but I don't know how...)


                1 Reply
                1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                  Agreed - do not try making this in a bundt pan. It's a dense, heavy batter that will have a hard time rising in a deep pan. You can cut back the oil on most of the CC recipes without hurting anything, and there is less frosting on a piece of sheet cake than in a CC layer cake.

                  You could also do CC cupcakes. That way some could have cream cheese frosting and some a lighter glaze. I make the frosting using whipped cream cheese, marshmallow fluff, and a little whipped butter. Just stir together by hand or with a mixer on low speed. This gives your frosting added volume, so you can use less.