Thursday, April 5, 2012

Carrot Cake - The "Healthy" Cake

     On one of my weekly trips to Costco I bought a huge bag of carrots. They stay good for a long time, and I use them in almost everything. Well, with this ginormous bag of carrots in the back of my mind, I was thinking about what I wanted to make for dinner. I decided on Apricot Mustard Chicken with Almonds, Basil Mexican Squash and some sort of starch. I was trying to decide on a starch for the meal but my mind kept wandering towards dessert. What yummy and forbidden (for the moment because I'm suppose to be on a diet for Fat Club) treat could I make today? I again remembered the carrots and thought, "I can make a carrot cake - that's kinda healthy. . . . Right?" Well, I convinced myself, so here it is. :)

   It's a very moist cake that's not too sweet, with lots of carrots and nuts. Some people like raisins in their carrot cake (I do not), and if you are one of those people then by all means feel free to add them.
BTW: I had every intention of using applesauce instead of oil, but I went to my cupboard and I'm all out. So for today I'm using just oil. If you want the cake to be more healthy, use the applesauce instead.

Here's what you'll need:
carrots, vegetable oil (or applesauce), flour, dark brown sugar, white sugar, baking powder, baking soda, chopped pecans, 4 eggs, vanilla extract, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, *a sifter, grater, a microplane, *mixing bowl, *electric mixer or whisk
 - *not pictured

Start with the oil (or applesauce) and sugar in the mixing bowl.

This picture came out really dark, but it's 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar.
 Next, add the eggs one at a time to combine.
 Add vanilla.
 Grate about 4 cups of carrots on the smallest size grate. I used 7 carrots.
 I grated about 3 carrots and then checked my measurement by putting the shreds into my 2 cup measure. I usually don't measure it out. I just grate a few carrots until it looks like its between 3 and 4 cups. (I can usually get 1/2 cup from each carrot.)
 In my 4 cup measure I combined the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

 I grated in my nutmeg using my microplane until it looked like I had about 1/4 tsp.

 Sift 1/2 of the flour mixture into the sugar mixture until well combined. (You're suppose to sift it, but more often than not I just dump them in.) When 1/2 the flour mixture is stirred in, add all your carrots, and mix those in well. Finish with the last instalment of the flour mixture . . .
 and stir in your chopped pecans.
This is my favorite way to chop nuts. I fill my mini food processor, because I know it makes 1 cup. I pulse the nuts about 20 times (depending on how long each pulse is) and the nuts come out nicely chopped. I love modern cooking inventions. :)
 This is when you would add raisins if you want. - I don't.
 Pour the batter into a 9x13 baking dish that has been sprayed with no-stick spray.

 Bake @ 350 for 40 to 50 minutes; until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean (just one or two crumbs, but not wet at all).

Let it sit on the counter to cool completely before frosting.

In my opinion, carrot cake must be frosted with cream cheese frosting!  I like my cream cheese frosting to taste like cream cheese, and not be too sweet. But if you want a more traditional cream cheese frosting, then replace 4 oz of the cream cheese with 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, and add some more powdered sugar. It's all to taste, so do what you like.

For the frosting, here's what you'll need:

2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 stick butter, 12 oz cream cheese
and 1/2 tsp vanilla

 Put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl, and whisk until smooth. (I used unsalted butter, so I also added a dash of salt.)
Make sure all the lumps are out. This takes a little muscle if you're doing by hand, but I figure if I burn off some calories now then I can eat them back via the cake later. :)
 Then add the powdered sugar in batches.
 Whisk to combine.
 When it's smooth, and your cake is cool, cover the cake with the frosting.

 It looks healthy, right?

Here's the recipe:

Chef Mommy's Carrot Cake

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 cups finely shredded carrots
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix oil and sugars in a large mixing bowl until well combined. Mix in 4 eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add 1/2 the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and blend well. Add the shredded carrots and mix again. Mix in the last 1/2 of the flour mixture and stir in the chopped pecans. Pour into a prepared 9x13 baking dish and bake @ 350 for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean (only a crumb or two - not wet at all). Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

12 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
salt (to taste)

Whisk together the cream cheese, butter, salt and vanilla until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until well combined. 


  1. Wonderful! seems so easy when I look at it

  2. This is best recipe for making Chef's Larder Carrot Cake.Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Never heard of Chef's Larder Carrot Cake before. This is a recipe that I concocted on my own, combining a few recipes that I found. Most carrot cake recipes call for pineapple and raisins, both of which I don't like in my carrot cake. I love this recipe, though, and it always gets rave reviews. Thanks for commenting! :)