Lighter, healthier carrot cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting that are just as moist and delicious as traditional carrot cake, in a perfectly portion controlled package with just 6 PointsPlus value.
I’ve been a big carrot cake fan for as long as I can remember. It was my go-to dessert all through the late 1980s and early 1990s. I remember going to restaurants where I would bring home most of my dinner in a doggie bag just so I could indulge in a big delicious cream cheese frosted wedge.
That was before I joined Weight Watchers and started paying attention to things like calories and grams of fat. According to eTools, a piece of carrot cake with cream cheese icing has 18 PointsPlus value. The slice at Outback is even worse. It has 761 calories, 82 g carbs, 46 g fat and 5 g protein for a PointsPlus value of 21.
Needless, to say, this isn’t the kind of dessert I indulge in on a regular basis anymore, unless I’m sharing it with an entire table and having a bite or two.
But I haven’t lost my taste for the wonderful flavors and textures of carrot cake.
That’s where this recipe from Enlightened Cakes: More Than 100 Decadently Light Layer Cakes, Bundt Cakes, Cupcakes, Cheesecakes, and More, All with Less Fat and Fewer Calories by Camilla Saulsbury comes in. I adapted the recipe slightly, using the one bowl mixing approach from another one of Camilla’s books, Piece of Cake!: One-Bowl, No-Fuss, From-Scratch Cakes to make it as quick and easy as possible to mix.
I also substituted the canola oil in the cake and butter in the icing with MELT organic buttery spread. (I received two packages to sample and thought this was a great way to test it out, since it is supposed to cook and bake like butter.)
If you haven’t heard of it (I hadn’t), MELT is an organic spread that’s a blend of virgin coconut oil, flaxseed oil, palm oil, canola oil and sunflower oil, with 80 calories and 2 PointsPlus per tablespoon. It’s rich and creamy and I can taste the slightest hint of coconut, which I like.
I haven’t tried MELT on my toast, since I prefer it spread with peanut butter or almond butter. But it was great when I used it on steamed veggies including broccoli and carrots. (For more information about MELT, check out the links at the bottom of the post.)
These cupcakes were a huge success. They satisfied my craving with just 6 PointsPlus. And Mom, who doesn’t really like carrot flavored baked goods, gave them two thumbs ups proclaiming them, “the best carrot cake I’ve ever had.”
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used Pampered Chef Cinnamon Plus)
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons canola oil (I substituted MELT Spread)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup finely shredded, peeled carrot (about 2 medium)
- 1 can (8-ounces) crushed pineapple, drained very well
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
- 2 ounces ⅓-less-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used MELT Spread instead)
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1-2/3 to 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg until well blended.
- Add the oil, vanilla, egg, carrots, and pineapple and stir until well blended. Gently stir in the dried cranberries.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing it evenly among them.
- Bake on the center of the oven for 16-18 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes and then remove the cupcakes from the pan and let them cool completely on the wire rack.
- While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the lemon cream cheese icing. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter (or MELT spread), lemon zest, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until just blended and smooth.
- Gradually add 1-2/3 cups of the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the lemon juice until blended. If the mixture seems to soft, add more sugar until you reach a nice spreading consistency.
- When the cupcakes are completely cool, frost the cupcakes with the lemon cream cheese icing
If you liked this post and recipe for Enlightened Carrot Cupcakes, check out these links:
- Healthy Breakfast Mini-Muffins – loaded with carrots, apples, oats and whole wheat with 2 PointsPlus (Simple Nourished Living)
- Super Moist Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing – a deep single layer cake with coconut (SkinnyTaste)
- Carrot-Orange Ginger Muffins – with the zing of fresh ginger (Weight Watchers)
- More about Melt healthy butter spread made with virgin coconut oil and flaxseed oil including flaxseed oil health benefits (Melt)