Carrots give carrot cake a health-halo effect—people think it's health food, but it's usually very high in fat and calories. But our version has about 40 percent less calories and 50 percent less fat than most. First, we use less oil in our batter. Then we skip the butter in the frosting (don't worry, it's still light and smooth). To ensure the cake is moist, we add nonfat buttermilk and crushed pineapple.
- 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
- 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, (see Ingredient Note)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip)
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups grated carrots, (4-6 medium)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Tip)
- 12 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufchâtel), softened
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons coconut chips, (see Ingredient Note) or flaked coconut, toasted
- To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
- Drain pineapple in a sieve set over a bowl, pressing on the solids. Reserve the drained pineapple and 1/4 cup of the juice.
- Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and the 1/4 cup pineapple juice in a large bowl until blended. Stir in pineapple, carrots and 1/4 cup coconut. Add the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until blended. Stir in the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.
- Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched lightly and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
- To prepare frosting and finish cake: Beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.
Tips & Notes
- Ingredient Notes: Whole-wheat pastry flour, lower in protein than regular whole-wheat flour, has less gluten-forming potential, making it a better choice for tender baked goods. You can find it in the natural-foods section of large super markets and natural-foods stores. Store in the freezer.
- Large thin flakes of dried coconut called coconut chips make attractive garnishes. Find them in the produce section of large supermarkets or at melissas.com.
- Tips: No buttermilk? You can use buttermilk powder prepared according to package directions. Or make “sour milk”: mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.
- To toast chopped walnuts and coconut chips, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 5 minutes.
Per serving: 342 calories; 17 g fat (5 g sat, 7 g mono); 56 mg cholesterol; 43 g carbohydrates; 6 g protein; 3 g fiber; 349 mg sodium; 150 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (40% daily value), Fiber (12% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 3
Exchanges: 2 1/2 other carbohydrate, 1/2 vegetable, 3 fat
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