Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I don't know how you feel about Carrot Cake but I absolutely love it! My favorite elements of the cake are the spices in the cake and the cream cheese frosting on top. What I don't love about it, is how high it is in calories and fat. So after a little bit of tweaking, I came up with a version of carrot cake that is healthier and still just as delicious as the traditional recipe. I have made these for my extended family and no one even knew that I made these carrot cake cupcakes any differently than what they were used to. Although, they did remark about how moist and delicious the cupcakes were! To make my recipe healthier, I use half white flour and half whole wheat flour. That way the cupcakes have more fiber but since it is 50-50, the whole wheat isn't noticeable and the flavor is not compromised. Then instead of using the 4 eggs that the recipe typically calls for, I like to use  flaxseed to replace 2 of the eggs. By doing this, not only is the cholesterol reduced by half, but you gain the added nutritional value of flaxseed. Flaxseed is high in fiber and a great source for omega-3 fatty acids. The ground seeds can act as an egg and fat replacer in recipes. Here it is doing double duty by replacing some the eggs and oil called for in the traditional recipe. Another way to reduce the amount of oil needed is to use natural unsweetened applesauce. The applesauce is a great way to reduce the fat in the recipe and it adds moisture to the cake! As for the frosting, I like to use Neufchâtel cheese in place of cream cheese since it is naturally 33% lower in fat than cream cheese. And although butter is higher in fat, I still use it because I prefer to use whole, natural foods. I just choose to use less of it. The result is a moist and flavorful cake that has about 48% fewer calories, 80% less fat, 83% less saturated fat, 58% less cholesterol and 67% more fiber than a traditional carrot cake cupcake. I hope that you and your family enjoy these as much as mine does.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Dry ingredients:

1 c. all purpose flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

1 c. white sugar

1 c. brown sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. allspice

 

Wet ingredients:

2 tbsp. whole flaxseed, milled right before use + 6 tbsp. water

2 eggs

1/4 c. canola oil

1/2 c. natural applesauce (no sugar added, no artificial sweetener)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 lb. of shredded carrots

 

Cream cheese frosting:

4 oz. 1/3 less fat Neufchâtel Cheese, softened

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 c. powdered sugar

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two muffin pans with muffin paper and set aside. Set the cream cheese and butter on the counter to soften.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In large mixing bowl, mix together the flaxseed with water on high speed for about 1 minute. The texture of the mixture will resembles runny egg whites. Then add the eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla and carrots; mix on medium speed until it is completely combined. Then stir in the dry ingredients into the wet mixture just until combined.

Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/4 c. measuring cup, scoop the mixture into the muffin pans. Try to divide the mixture evenly into all the muffin cups so that all of the cupcakes cook uniformly.

Bake for 20 minutes. Cupcakes are done when a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with just a few crumbs on it. Cool the cupcakes completely on a cooling rack. Once they have cooled, make the frosting. To make the frosting, combine the cheese, butter and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend together on medium speed until smooth. Then reduce the speed to low and slowly stir in the powdered sugar and blend until smooth. Frost the cupcakes and enjoy! Store cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Nutritional Information per cupcake:

176 Calories

3 g. fat

1 g. saturated fat

24 mg. cholesterol

238 mg. sodium

37 g. carbohydrates

1.5 g. fiber

27 g. sugar

2 g. protein