Why have I made carrot cake over ten times in the past three days? To come up with a Healthy Carrot Cake that’s low in carbohydrates and gluten-free for you! This fragrant and flavorful cake is also dairy-free and nut-free, if you omit the classic add in of chopped walnuts. I promise you won’t miss the raisins in this nourishing carrot cake that’s not just healthy “because it has vegetables in it!” The other bad stuff–those culprits named Sugar and Flour–are conspicuously left out of this recipe. All of that grating was totally worth it.
There is a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses–which is technically a sugar–in this recipe. It’s a thick, dark iron-rich syrup made from the sugarcane plant. This molasses is potent stuff, and contributes a rich flavor and coloring to the cake. You can leave molasses out to be completely sugar-free, but I think it’s worth the 4 grams of carbs.
You can bake the cake into a traditional rectangular loaf, or snack-sized mini muffins. Get creative and have fun with your sugar-free frosting! It pipes well, using a zip top bag with the corner snipped off.
A bit of food coloring can transform your homemade low carb treats into festive, eye-catching confections worthy of special occasions. Check the food coloring label for hidden sugar before you buy. I made the mistake of not checking the label of the Wilton gel coloring I used here, and saw it contained corn syrup, much to my dismay! That pesky Sugar manages to sneak in everywhere, doesn’t it? McCormick food colors, found in most grocery stores, are sugar-free. I’ve tried a couple of organic dyes, and unfortunately neither of them yielded satisfactory results. You need so little coloring for an entire batch of frosting that I’m not too worried about the health effects. If you have any recommendations for natural food dye, let us know in the comments, please.
The frosting is absolutely delicious any color you make it. It’s a new and improved Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting, with a special low carb ingredient that might be familiar to the Asian and Indian readers of this blog…
Powdered coconut milk acts to thicken the frosting, while eliminating the greasy taste that comes from not using powdered sugar. Powdered coconut milk should be available at your local Asian grocery store for a reasonable price. The kind I used comes in a can, but I’ve seen it in packets. Dairy-free readers might want to know that coconut milk powder does contain a milk protein (casein), so it’s not dairy-free (here is a dairy-free cupcake topping). Powdered coconut milk to contain 1.5 grams of carbs and 45 calories per tablespoon based on these nutrition facts. You might want to make just a small batch of this frosting–it’s that good!
Healthier Carrot Cake
Makes 18 mini muffins or a small (~3 x 6″) loaf
1/4 cup sifted coconut flour
2 Tablespoons oat flour
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
Scant 1/4 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract powder
2 large eggs
4 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (imitation works fine – check the label for corn syrup)
1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1 1/4 cup (3.5-4 ounces) finely grated carrot, packed gently into cup
4 tablespoons erythritol
1 tablespoon xylitol
1/8 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
1/4 cup pecan flour (finely ground pecans – can find it in Publix stores in the southern states)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
For a small loaf cake, prepare a 3″ by 6″ aluminum loaf pan (disposable kind from the supermarket is fine) by lightly oiling the sides with your fingers. You can use EVOO cooking spray, or a bit of coconut oil on your finger to do this. Place a small rectangle of parchment paper or wax paper in the bottom of the pan. Dust the bottom and sides of the pan with a sprinkling of oat flour to ensure the cake can “climb” as it bakes. Turn and shake the pan with your hands to coat the sides evenly.
If you are making the carrot cake as mini muffins, I highly recommend you get some silicone mini muffin cups. Mine are made by Wilson, and they come in a set of 12. You can find them at Michael’s, Bed, Bath and Beyond, or possibly a store like Home Goods. Otherwise, the carrot muffins will be just as tasty, but will stick to the paper wrappers. If you are using paper mini muffin cups, spray them with some EVOO cooking spray. Spoon batter into cups with a regular spoon (a teaspoon), filling them almost to the top. If you only have one mini muffin pan, you can make 2 regular-sized muffins with the extra batter. Use paper cups in this pan as well, and use the 2 center wells to keep the pan evenly heated.
Sift coconut flour, gently spoon into measuring cup, and level with a knife. Add coconut flour to a mixing bowl along with oat flour, xanthan gum, cinnamon, baking powder, and stevia. Add pecan meal if you are using it. Whisk together dry ingredients to get rid of any lumps.
Grate carrots, measure them by packing them gently into your measuring cups, and transfer shreds into a clean tea towel. Fold the tea towel over the shredded carrot several times. Wrap the tea towel-carrot package in a larger hand towel. Press down on the whole bundle to get the moisture out of the grated carrot. I recommend stepping on the bundle several times to use all of your body weight to extract the water from the carrots (fun for the whole family!). Unfold the towels to expose the dried carrot shreds.
To get less visible carrot pieces in the cake, use a blender in preparing the batter. Add eggs, oil, vanilla, and molasses to a blender. Spoon erythritol, xylitol, and sea salt into blender. Add 1/2 of the carrot shreds, and blend briefly until the mixture is smooth. Add this wet mixture to the dry mix, and whisk it together. Fold in the second half of the carrot shreds. Fold in nuts, if using. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake as directed.
If you don’t have a blender, or don’t want to use one, you can use a hand mixer. The texture of the cake will just have more visible carrot pieces in it. Beat the wet ingredients together for a minute using your hand mixer. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and beat the batter until it is smooth. Then, stir in the grated carrot with your spatula. Fold in nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake as directed.
If you are making a loaf, bake it for 50 minutes. If you are making mini muffins, bake for 22 minutes. If you are baking regular sized muffins, bake for 25 minutes.
Let carrot cake rest in pan until it is cool enough to touch, then transfer to a paper towel-lined cooling rack. When cake is completely cooled, transfer it to a tupperware container or zip top bag, and store on the counter for as long as 24 hours. Refrigerate it for longer storage. This cake tastes best at room temperature.
~1,308 calories for the entire recipe
~37.7g net carbs for the entire recipe
~2g net carbs per mini muffin (no frosting)
~6.3g net carbs per 1/6 of a loaf (no frosting)
Low Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting (New and Improved)
Makes a little over 1 cup
4 ounces cream cheese
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup coconut milk powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons erythritol, powdered
2 teaspoons xylitol, powdered
NuNaturals pure stevia extract powder, to taste (1/16-1/8 of a teaspoon)
Powder erythritol and xylitol together in a coffee grinder until very finely ground. Leave cream cheese and butter out on counter to come to room temperature. Cube butter with knife (doesn’t have to be exact) and add to bowl along with cream cheese. Beat together with a hand mixer until smooth. Add in erythritol and xylitol mixture along with the vanilla. Beat until smooth and fluffy (30 seconds to one minute), until erythritol and xylitol are dissolved and no longer gritty feeling. Beat in coconut milk powder. Add stevia, taste, and make adjustments as necessary.
~626 calories for the entire recipe
~7.3g net carbs for the entire recipe
And now, I’m off to catch up on answering your emails! Hope you are having a wonderful summer, readers.
Related recipes from other bloggers you might be interested in:
Carrot Cake by The Chicken Lady at Low Carb Friends forum