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Award Winning Carrot Cake with Toasted Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting (252 Calories)

Posted Dec 16 2010 2:37am


First off, I just want to congratulate my bff, Anu, who just had her baby boy.  Congratulations Guys!  And post some pics soon! 

When it comes to trying new recipes that are reduced fat with a secret ingredient, I'm always up for the challenge.  So when I saw this award winning recipe on the Cooking Light website with only a 1/4 cup of oil, I knew I had a winner.  I'm not about cutting out all the fat from a cake recipe because the end result will not be pleasing to the palate, however I am all about reducing the fat in cakes and finding cool techniques to do it.  In this amazingly delicious recipe, the secret ingredient was a huge surprise for me, yet it should have been obvious, a jar of carrot baby food - oh yes, baby food!  Why didn't I think of it?  All this time when i made carrot cake, why did I use applesauce instead of carrot baby food?  It should have been more obvious to me, I should have known better.

So after reading all the positive reviews for this recipe, I took a crack at it last night and as usual made some of my own modifications to further reduce the fat.  All I can say was this is seriously one of the BEST carrot cake recipes I have ever tried.  It seriously would give Ina Garten's Reduced Fat Carrot & Pineapple Cupcake some much needed competition.  You have to try this recipe and see for yourself.  The next time I bake carrot cake, I'm going to combine Ina's Carrot & Pineapple Cupcake recipe and this award winning Carrot Cake recipe and come up with one that I can call my own.  In the meantime, enjoy this!

TELL ME: What is your favorite Carrot Cake recipe?  Share with us!

NUTRITION: Carrots are LOADED with Vitamin A (eyes).  Also, it is a very good source of Fiber, Vitamins C and K.  Raisins are known to be an antioxidant rich fruit.  Oats help reduce cholesterol and are a good source of Protein and Fiber. 

  • This recipe calls for 3/4 cup of white flour, I used 1/2 cup of white flour and 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour.  Honestly, you can use 1/4 cup of white and 1/2 cup of wheat, but I didn't want to take a chance the first time.
  • Although this recipe called for 1/4 cup of QUICK cooking oats, I used 1/4 cup of OLD-FASHIONED oats.  I just used what I had on hand.
  • Instead of 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) of Canola oil, I used 3 tbsp.  This reduced the fat by 14 grams - not bad.
  • For the frosting, believe it or not, I didn't have butter on hand, so I omitted it, could not tell anything was missing. 
  • Since I skipped the butter in the frosting, I made up for it by using 4 ounces of 1/3 less fat cream cheese which is half a bar.

APPROXIMATE NUTRITION PER SERVING (yields 12 squares with frosting)
  • Calories: 252 cals
  • Fat: 7.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.5 g
  • Carbs: 45 g
  • Protein: 3.2 g
  • Fiber: 1.4 g

CARROT CAKE (REDUCED FAT) (adapted from Cooking Light - Christine Dohlmar )
~ yields 12 squares @ 325 degrees using a 8" x 8" baking tray
~ Cake & Frosting included in nutrition value: 
fat reduced by 17%; calories reduced by 4%; saturated fat reduced by 7%Although this recipe is already reduced fat, I lightened it up a little more by reducing the oil and skipping the butter all together.  It's amazing how much 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter can lower the fats in a recipe by nearly 17%.  You can lighten this up even further by skipping the coconut, this would bring down the calories to 240, fat to 6.5 grams, and saturated fat to 1.8 grams - awesome right?
  • All Purpose White Flour - 1/2 cup
  • King Arthur's Whole Wheat Flour - 1/4 cup
  • Quaker Oats - 1/4 cup (grinded)
  • Ground Cinnamon - 1 1/2 tsp
  • Baking Powder - 1 tsp
  • Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - 1/4 tsp
  • White Sugar - 1 cup
  • Canola Oil - 3 tbsp (for cake) + 1 tsp (for greasing)
  • Gerber Carrot Baby Food (1st foods) - 1 (2 1/2 ounce jar)
  • Eggs - 2 (large)
  • Carrots - 1 1/4 cups (shredded/grated)
  • Raisins - 1/2 cup 

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Grease an 8"x8" baking tray with 1 tsp of Canola oil or cooking spray.

3. Shred/Grate the carrots.  My Cuisinart Food Processor came in handy.  Set carrots aside.  Clean and dry the food processor portion.  We will need this for the next step.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the food processor - white flour, wheat flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  We basically want to grind up the oats here. 

5. Pulse until well blended.  This is what you should have.  Set aside.

6. In a mixing bowl, add sugar and Canola oil.

7. Add carrot baby food.

8. Add 2 eggs.

9. Combine with a whisk until well blended.

10. Now add the flour to the wet ingredients.  

11. Use a whisk to combine, but DO NOT OVERMIX! 

12. Add the shredded carrots.

13. Add raisins.

14. Combine.

15. Pour batter into the baking tray.

16. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 325 degrees.  
NOTE: I checked the cake after 30 minutes and it was golden, however it was still undone.  Check every 5 minutes after 30 minutes.

17. After 40 minutes, this is what you should have.  Gorgeous!

TOASTED COCONUT WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING (REDUCED FAT) (adapted from Cooking Light - Christine Dohlmar )
~ frosts 12 squares using a 8" x 8" baking tray

  • 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese - 4 ounces (or 1/2 a bar)
  • Powdered Sugar - 1 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla Extract - 1/2 tsp
  • Flaked/Desiccated Sweetened Coconut - 1/4 cup (toasted)

1. Start by toasting a 1/4 cup of coconut on medium heat.  Stay close.

2. In the meantime, in a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.  

3. Combine.  Frosting is ready!

4. Check on the coconut - it should be done.  Set aside to cool. 

5. Once the cake cools, spread frosting using a spatula.

6. Top with toasted coconut.  

7. It's a little piece of heaven! 

According to me, the frosting was really good.  However, according to my husband, brother, sis-in-law, and nieces, the frosting was a little sweet.  You can go ahead and start with 1 cup of confectioners' sugar and work your way up.  I personally thought the frosting was just right, but then again, I have a really bad sweet tooth.  Considering this frosting was reduced fat, it tasted sweet and rich, no one was able to tell that I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese.  Mission accomplished!

Okay, so my husband, sis-in-law, nieces and I LOVED this cake.  I especially knew my nieces loved it because they kept eating more and more.  My sis-in-law is a huge fan of carrot cake and she really enjoyed it, and she was shocked when I told her this cake was reduced fat.  My husband loved this cake and went back for seconds after overeating his dinner - SIGH - but I guess I don't bake every day, so fine!  My brother (Mr. Scrooge), on the other hand compared this wonderfully delicious cake to Shoprite's Carrot Cake.  For those of you who don't know, Shoprite is your normal grocery store in the Northeastern region.  My first instinct was, are you kidding me?  My sis-in-law quickly jumped in to my defense and said this cake tasted soooooooooo much better than Shoprite.  Thank you, GB!  You bet I was annoyed with my brother's comment, the nerve of him to compare my labor of love cake to Shoprite?  Not even Whole Foods, but SHOPRITE!  Well whatever, what does he know about baking, his specialty department are salads and soups anyway - LOL!  Don't listen to my brother, bake this cake, and see for yourself.  You are getting a piece of heaven that is pretty close to the real deal without the insane amounts of fats and calories.
The coconut taste was prominent in this recipe, so I'm warning you, if you aren't a huge fan of coconut, skip it and you'll also save 10 calories and 1 gram of fat per square.  Awesome, right?
Texture: The texture of this cake was just right, soft, spongy, and crumbly.
Moistness: This cake was extremely moist with the oil and carrot baby food added.  Next time though, since I removed 1 tbsp of oil, I wouldn't mind adding another jar of baby food for additional moisture... doesn't hurt.

And lastly, a very special thanks to Christine Dohlmar from Florida who came up with this award winning recipe that was featured in Cooking Light magazine.  

TELL ME: What is your favorite Carrot Cake recipe?  Share with us!

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